When it comes to building a career, sharpening razor blades might not be the first thing that comes to mind for most aspiring professionals.
But for Martin Lightsey ‘64, that need provided an opportunity that was perfect for his skill set. In 1985, he started a company that specialized in a new way to sharpen razor blades, and though he has since transitioned away, the company now employs over 500 people and continues to serve its industry.
Martin had a preference for math and science from a young age, which caused his high school teachers to encourage him to pursue engineering. He found his niche at Clemson in industrial engineering, and after he shifted from a career at General Electric to his new endeavor in entrepreneurship, he saw the importance of combining business and engineering.
“I think the world needs more engineers, I think the world needs more entrepreneurs,” Martin said. “I think entrepreneurial outcomes are a great place for engineers to exercise their abilities and skills.”
Not only did Martin gain necessary career experience at Clemson, but he also acquired life experience that would prepare him for the years ahead. He even met his wife Linda through an event hosted by his fraternity at Clemson. “[Clemson] provided me with a confidence and a stepping stone that I probably would not have been able to experience any other way,” Martin said. “I had a good career at GE and then later in my other pursuits, and I give Clemson credit for that.”
Though the Lightseys have settled in Staunton, Virginia, and visit Clemson less frequently than they used to, they still support their Tigers from a distance – especially on game days. “I think Clemson deserves support because they’ve earned it,” Martin said. “It’s a great place to get an education, there’s a great spirit here, it’s a great place to make lifelong friends and get prepared for what’s out there in the world.”
Because of the powerful way Clemson impacted Martin’s life, the Lightseys have established the Martin and Linda Lightsey Engineering and Entrepreneurship Endowment. The endowment provides a scholarship to a student majoring in engineering and who is also a member of Design and Entrepreneurship Network (DEN).
“Providing jobs that are meaningful and pay a good wage – I don’t know a higher calling,” Martin said, and thanks to the scholarship he and his wife have provided, other students will be able to follow in his footsteps to fulfill that calling as well.