Retiree Spotlight

Meet Marv Berkowitz

Featured Retiree: Marv Berkowitz

"Either you go for it or you don't," said Marv Berkowitz, founder of Fathers Against Distracted Driving (FADD). "I want to make a difference, a real impact on the actions of distracted drivers."

And that he has.

He enthusiastically spreads the message of driving safely to groups across the state of Michigan. Much of his success can be attributed to his 30-year sales career, where he fostered relationships with doctors and physicians around the world.

Building Relationships

Marv began his Pfizer career as a sales representative in Long Island, New York in 1964. He moved around the company quite a bit; his various roles included hospital sales representative, medical science liaison, sales manager and sales trainer.

After fourteen years of field experience in New York, he transitioned into a new role as medical science liaison national director for immunology products in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Marv interacted with thought-leaders in the Rheumatology and Transplantation departments and led product presentations throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, China, Japan and Australia.

The extensive network he created served as the spring board for his current organization where he engages audiences wherever he goes.

Launching FADD

Statistics of distracted driving deaths disturbed Marv, noting that the number had surpassed the amount of deaths caused by drunk driving. Why is distracted driving so dangerous? It includes texting, eating, playing with dash controls and using a GPS to name a few. This drove him to start Fathers Against Distracted Driving, a nonprofit, 501 (c) (3) in 2013. He has spoken to hundreds of people with fervent hope to shift attitudes and save lives.

"I tell my audience 'you have two choices: you can stay the same or you can change.' The way to combat it is one attitude shift at a time – that's my message," said Marvin. "I say 'If you are signing this no texting while driving pledge because of peer pressure, don't bother. I want you to sign this because you want to change.'"

Marv has been interviewed on major and local TV stations about FADD. In addition, he published Take Back Our Roads–How to Survive on our Streets & Highways in 2008.

What advice does he give people to take on the road with them? He lists out a few main tips:

  1. Stay calm, cool and collected. Do not be influenced by the bad behavior of other drivers.
  2. Reduce speed.
  3. Maintain a proper distance from the car in front of you.
  4. Have a plan — look left and right.

A Car Guy

A Michigan local, Marvin also belongs to the Mercedes-Benz club of America(MBCA). Here he gets to gaze at beautifully crafted cars as well as take his own car on a ride around the curvy racetrack.

"When I race on the track, I get to experience the capabilities of my vehicle, a black Mercedes, in terms of acceleration and braking. It is also good stress release for me in a controlled setting. When I bring this knowledge with me on the road, I'm able to make smarter decisions," said Marv.

He has served on the MBCA Teen Driver Task Force, BMW and as a Tire Rack "Street Survival" instructor. "I focused my teachings on teens because they have the highest crash statistics," said Marvin. "But then I realized if they get in the car with their poorly driving parents the attitude change is diminished."

He shifted his talk to gear towards people of all ages. He speaks to groups of teens in high schools to older drivers in senior centers.

Fighting Like Mad

He doesn't consider his retirement as one in the typical sense, "I get up early, and go to bed late. I'm fighting like mad to make a difference in the lives of our drivers."

Marvin lives in Portage, Michigan with his wife, Renay. He has two sons and a daughter who live in Ohio and Florida.

For more information about Fathers Against Distracted Driving, you can visit the website here.

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