EXECUTIVE TEAM  

The Idea Mill executive team consists of the following individuals:

 

GEORGE TARRAB, JR.
Managing Partner

 

Mr. Tarrab has developed new products, managed corporate operations and successfully grown companies and services for over 20 years. He has an Associate in Science degree from the Edison Technical Institute and has held federal and state security clearances as a result of his project management efforts with various government agencies including the FBI, Naval Weapons Research, Special Operations and police groups worldwide. He has managed electro-mechanical product development and projects for the aviation, entertainment and broadcast industries as well as for the private sector. His diverse background includes mechanical and electronics design engineering, market research, creating and negotiating international leasing contracts, budgeting and managing multi-million dollar projects, risk management and technical consulting.

As Chief Operations Officer of the largest supplier of stabilized helicopter camera mounts, Mr. Tarrab streamlined operations, researched and established 15 new locations and created the retail infrastructure for all 36 locations worldwide. During his tenure, sales, quality, on-time service and customer satisfaction were at the highest levels in the company's 40-year history.

He has been sought out to manage many special projects because he is a professional logistics coordinator, has proven problem-solving skills and has the ability to envisage all aspects of business. Noteworthy projects include customized hardware for the FBI, Naval Weapons Research, Northrop, Hughes Thermal Imaging, Flir Systems Inc., Bell Helicopters, IMAX, Goodyear Blimp, Fuji Blimp, Broadcast Surveillance Systems, NBC, ABC, and others.

He has also provided technical and logistical consulting to hundreds of commercials, television programs and feature film productions. His movie projects include Mission Impossible, Terminator 2, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, The Fugitive, Hunt For Red October, Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3, Broken Arrow, Clear and Present Danger and Water World. His work for television includes commercial advertisements for Princess Cruises, BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Cadillac, Mazda and Suzuki, and program coverage of two Americas Cup races.

Even in leisure, Mr. Tarrab's interests have evolved into entrepreneurial product development and improvement. While racing personal watercraft, he was enlisted by Ultranautics for the development and testing efforts on their Suzuki powered boats and watercraft. He met his associate of 20 years and Idea Mill Partner, Chris Lessel while testing these crafts and dominating the racing circuit for four years. Together, Mr. Tarrab and Mr. Lessel evaluated and developed numerous products to enhance the performance and hydrodynamic efficiency of the various models of watercraft. Their efforts were the genesis of West Power Systems (WPS), a company dedicated to solving the many shortcomings and high-maintenance costs of high-load, continuous-duty reciprocating engines. Through WPS, they continue to develop small hybrid turbine engines as a super-reliable and affordable power plant for use in many types of vehicles.

More recently, as a parent of three, Mr. Tarrab became aware of the dangers and ill effects of the over-usage of electronic media in children's lives. Impoverished brain development, aggressive behavior and obesity are at epidemic levels due to too much television, video games and computer play. These troubling trends prompted him to invent PlayTime Manager™, a simple, intuitive solution for controlling the amount of time children spend with electronic media. PlayTime ManagerŠ is the latest inductee to the Idea Mill family and is being launched through the Time Management Products (TMP) division.

Now, as Managing Director of Idea Mill, a Concept to Product Development Company, Mr. Tarrab has a venue for developing many of his product ideas and looks forward to helping other creative thinkers with their endeavors. His business experience, engineering savvy and evaluation skills are invaluable to inventors and entrepreneurs seeking a way to get their ideas ready for market.

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CHRIS LESSEL
Co-Founder / Partner
 

Chris Lessel has over 25 years of business development experience as both a corporate executive and an entrepreneur. His business acumen and ability to think creatively have resulted in a career of streamlined operations, increased company performance and several successfully marketed inventions.

Before Idea Mill, Mr. Lessel served a seven-year tenure as Branch President of one of the largest privately owned building supply wholesalers in Southern California. After serving as Vice President for 10 years he was given the task of improving sales efficiency.

Mr. Lessel developed, implemented and managed the Point-Of-Sale computer system across 13 locations, which greatly simplified sales entry and improved inventory control for the entire multi-location operation.

Mr. Lessel's entrepreneurial skills stem from his personal interest in aviation as well as recreational vehicles. His enthusiasm for aircraft and watercraft has cultivated his natural mechanical abilities and given him expertise in engineering outside of his formal business education at USC. His inventions grew out of the desire to refine engines and their working components for greater efficiency.

He developed, patented and marketed several specialty components, engineered internal modifications, and developed complete custom-built engine systems. These systems have been used in numerous marine applications and personal watercraft utilizing Suzuki marine engines. His ability to identify the causes of lagging performance in engine systems has given him a reputation as a troubleshooter. Once he has designed a new idea, he is able to orchestrate the tooling and manufacturing of the product and take it to market.

In particular, Mr. Lessel has helped develop one of the smallest, lightest turbo-shaft jet engines for use in experimental aircraft, marine applications and land vehicles. With his long-time associate, Idea Mill Partner, George Tarrab, Jr., he helped design, test and market an engine that can be used for these various experimental applications. (See Idea Mill Division WPS for more information)

Mr. Lessel attended the USC School of Business Administration, earning a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in marketing.

In addition to his product development skills and business management abilities, Mr. Lessel is an FAA Instrument rated Commercial Pilot with Single-Engine Land and Sea, Multi-Engine Land, Rotorcraft and Certified (Authorized) Flight Instructor ratings. He has flown for over 25 years and is licensed to fly multiple fixed-wing, single- and multi-engine aircraft as well as various models of piston-engine and turbine-engine rotorcraft.

Mr. Lessel's varied interests and abilities reveal his propensity to approach all challenges with an attitude to succeed. In his position as Co-Founder and Partner for Idea Mill, he welcomes the opportunity to help other imaginative people bring their ideas to light with his knowledge, experience and resourcefulness.

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JOHN ZABEL
Financial Advisor
 

John Zabel is an award-winning CPA with 20 years of negotiation, project financing, capital raising (including German IPO experience) and accounting/general management experience. He was the VP Controller and SVP of Finance at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. for twelve years and the EVP and CFO of Mandalay Entertainment, LLC for eight years.

He has negotiated multi-year licensing deals with major international companies in the UK, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. He has also negotiated credit agreements with major US (Chase) and UK (Coutts/Natwest) banks, including completion bond and insurance packages covering 15 projects and $900 million over the last 5 years. In addition, he has been involved in developing non-traditional financing sources such as a $75 million UK sale/lease transaction and a Canadian tax shelter on a German financed project (one of the first such deals ever completed), a $35 million insurance policy-backed project loan facility and over $75 million of project equity from German investment funds (structuring the first and only project financing utilizing two separate and competing funds on the same project).

His accounting and administration expertise culminated in his leading the finance team charged with library valuation for the merger of Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures in 1987, and the $6 billion purchase of both by Sony in 1989. He was a member of the FASB Task Force charged with clarifying and improving accounting guidance for the Entertainment Industry, which resulted in the issuance of SOP-02 in June 2000. He also established a system to automatically track project valuations against actual results used to calculate and post adjustments to the general ledger and established the legal, administrative (including human resources, insurance and payroll) and distribution tracking systems for the multi-entity group at Mandalay.

In 2002, Mr. Zabel established Media Finance Structures (MFS), LLC and has grown it into one of the most successful boutique media advisory firms in the industry. MFS provides guidance and expertise to leading investors, banks and law firms on all manner of Entertainment activities.

Mr. Zabel graduated with Great Distinction from California State University, Long Beach, was a member of the UCLA Executive Program's 72nd Class, and started at the Big 8 accounting firm of Arthur Young & Company, where he won the Elijah Watts Sells award for his performance on the 1981 CPA Exam.

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GAIL PIPER
Marketing
 

With successful track records in executive level corporate and service-side marketing in both the United States and Europe, London native Gail Piper now runs The Piper Consultancy, a San Francisco-based brand strategy and marketing consulting practice.

Ms. Piper's brand experience spans diverse businesses, from global retail franchises to mature packaged goods companies to technology start-ups. The Piper Consultancy's clients have included Bausch & Lomb, Body Shop International, Cisco Systems, e-Ceptionist (software), Klutz (children's activity books), QuadraMed Corporation (software), Stuart Anderson's Black Angus Restaurants, Terminix, Unilever Mexico, Washington Mutual Savings Bank, and a number of advertising agencies.

In 2002, Body Shop International hired Ms. Piper on a fixed-term contract as Executive Director of Worldwide Marketing based at their London headquarters. Her primary task was brand revitalization and she laid the strategic groundwork for this and implemented the organization, talent, and processes to realize that objective through retail, mail order, in-home, and online channels.

The Piper Consultancy was started as a part-time venture in 1996, and Ms. Piper began to pursue it full-time in 2001. Prior to that, she held a variety of senior management positions in advertising agencies. In the US, she was Senior Vice President and Director of Brand Strategy at Hoffman/Lewis, and Deputy Managing Director at McCann Erickson's award-winning Seattle office. On her arrival in the US from England in 1986, she spent seven years at Goldberg Moser O'Neill in San Francisco as a Vice President and member of the management group, leading many of the agency's new business efforts as well as running several of the agency's reputation-forming assignments. In her agency positions, Gail's clients included Boston Market, Celestial Seasonings Teas, Cisco Systems, The Coca-Cola Company, Dreyer's Ice Cream, Horizon Organic, Hunt-Wesson, McDonald's, Qantas Airways, The Quaker Oats Company, Reno Air, The Seattle Times, The Washington Apple Commission, Washington Mutual, Inc., and Worlds of Wonder Toys.

In the UK, Ms. Piper held similar agency positions and concluded her career there as a founder of Broad Street Advertising, which she helped take public in 1986. In the UK, she managed both domestic and international assignments. Her clients included, among others, British Telecom, Glaxo, Heinz, Hoffmann La Roche, and L'Oreal.

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JAKE LANG, CPA
Accounting
 

Jake Lang graduated from Brigham Young University in April of 1988 with a B.S. majoring in accounting. After graduation, Mr. Lang went to Pepperdine University where he completed his M.B.A. with an emphasis in Finance. Upon graduation from Pepperdine, he went to work for Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), and, after four years of Price Waterhouse, joined the tax department of one of his clients, MCA Inc. (now Vivendi Universal). During his three years at MCA, Mr. Lang completed his M.B.T. (Masters of Business Taxation) at the University of Southern California (USC). He left MCA to join the tax department of Ernst & Young, where he worked until December 2001, when he left his position as a senior tax manager in their technology, communications and entertainment practice, and joined Michael Yuda to form Yuda, Lang & Associates, LLP.

While at Price Waterhouse and Ernst & Young, Mr. Lang was directly responsible for working on all of the tax issues facing the largest entertainment companies in the world. He was also heavily involved in tax and business issues relating to other businesses, as well as other members of the entertainment industry including various actors, director, etc., plus high-income and high-net-worth individuals. He has extensive experience working with personal, partnership, limited liability company, S-corporation, and consolidated corporation tax issues. In addition, he has a great deal of experience in dealing with the IRS and other tax authorities. Mr. Lang is a member of the California Society of CPAs.

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CHRISTIAN T. MARTIN
Legal Counsel

 

Christian Martin contributes a wide breadth of successful entrepreneurial, business, legal, and leadership experience to the Idea Mill enterprise. Prior to joining Idea Mill, Mr. Martin served as Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs of Apogee Biometrics, Inc., a Washington-based technology venture which develops, patents, licenses and sells biometric security products. Mr. Martin also served on Apogee’s board of directors in 2002 and 2003. At Apogee, Mr. Martin was responsible for all corporate and business affairs, including the facilitation of joint ventures, supervision of intellectual properties, and the coordination and integration of the venture’s outside counsel and accounting professionals.

Prior to this, Mr. Martin served as CEO of East River Entertainment, a venture development and production company. Previously, he was CEO of Digital Realm Company, a venture that developed technology initiatives with Time Warner, Atlantic Records, and others. As a business attorney, Mr. Martin specializes in corporate development, technology, intellectual property and licensing, working with clients ranging from superstar entertainers to high profile technology ventures. He holds a BA, Cum Laude, from UCLA, and a JD from Southwestern University School of Law.

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