Behind the Scenes Fundraiser and Memorial to Industry Veteran Nick Wurzel

November 17, 2021

Nick Wurzel, a long-time industry veteran, lost his battle with substance abuse on September 27, 2021.  Nick graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI in 1990 with a degree in Economics, then began his career touring the country with various theatre productions.

He spent most of his career in sales positions at ETC, most recently as the Entertainment National Sales Manager. He began his ETC career in the Quotations department where Mark Vassallo, VP Global Sales, gave him the nickname “Pencils,” which stuck with him throughout his life because he always had sharpened pencils stuck behind his ear while he was crunching numbers as a human calculator. “Trust in Pencils” was so often heard by his customers that one sent him a box of pencils with the quote printed on them.  

Nick married Jessie Dunham Wurzel on October 11, 1997.  Jessie also worked at ETC in the Finance department, and they met at an ETC Christmas party on the stage of the Memorial Union Theatre. From that night forward, they were an inseparable pair until his disease parted them. They have two children: Emily and Alex. 

Heidi Bowers, Southwest Regional Sales Manager, said, “Nick was a mentor to me and many others and had a knack for finding and fostering talent in people. We traveled together throughout ETC’s Southwest and Latin American territories and, as my friend and boss for 17 years, he would listen to my ideas as we worked together as a team. He loved to sell, always with the win/win attitude and always the salesman, he would ask his reps and dealers to keep those cards and letters coming!  He called me ‘Sherpa,’ which some may take pause at, but I knew he meant he trusted me.”  

Michael Gonzales, Lighting Controls Specialist at Lighting and Electrical Associates, remembers Nick “as the mentor and friend who helped facilitate my first job as manufacturer’s rep. I always admired how knowledgeable and confident he was when we made sales calls together with his soft spoken, but enthusiastic approach in teaching consultants, designers, technicians, and students, showing them the latest and greatest products. ‘What have you sold for me today?!’ is how Nick would start a call. You never wanted to disappoint him when you saw his name come across the phone. His competitive, yet kind and understanding nature is instilled in me. You wanted to tell him you landed the next big job! I’m going to miss those calls from Nicky Pencils.” 

Nick’s struggle with alcoholism is a reminder to all of us of the toll this disease takes on people, not just on the addict, but also on family members and friends. They suffer right along with the addict and pay a very dear price. Identifying and treating alcoholism is not easy, however when left untreated, the results are predictable. In Nick’s case, while his loss is devastating, it is not a surprise. We grieve Nick’s loss and stay hopeful that his family can heal. 
Nick’s family and friends wish to honor him by raising funds to assist others in their struggles, through the work of the Behind the Scenes Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Initiative. By donating to this initiative, you will provide resources to assist others with their substance abuse struggles and save lives. Click here for more information and to donate.

An in-person celebration of life will be planned in Wisconsin in the spring.