ROCHESTER, N.Y.-Like a plowhorse that couldn't wait to get back into harness, Joseph A. DePaolis, to the surprise of few, recently re-entered the day-to-day operations of a growing company. What has caught some by surprise is that he's no longer toiling in the tire business, following a 35-year-long career, which came to an abrupt end a year ago when, after 25 years with Johnny Antonelli Tire Co. Inc., he was removed as its president and CEO.
A few weeks ago, Mr. DePaolis accepted the newly created position of vice president of business development for DeCarolis Truck Rental Inc., a successful Rochester-based truck leasing company that's been in business since 1938.
It has more than 4,000 vehicles on the road-everything from small vans to tractor trailers-and operates an in-house parts department as well as repair shops for power equipment and trailers.
Speaking of the ``daunting task'' before him, Mr. DePaolis said, ``It's one of those situations where the entrepreneur (who began the company) has brought it about as far as he feels he can bring it himself '' and needs some outside help.
Mr. DePaolis said he must first learn the business, study its processes and systems, ``try to determine what is good and what needs help, make some recommendations, then stay on to implement them.''
He's currently interviewing senior and middle management people to ascertain what they think are the company's strengths as well as some of their frustrations about the business.
Eventually he'll put together task forces to implement any changes deemed necessary.
``This is a very, very good operations-oriented organization,'' Mr. DePaolis told TIRE BUSINESS, but it needs to market itself better. ``Sometimes we put so much time (into) operations, we forget how to get out there and market,'' he said.
The firm has seven locations and ``a lot of equipment, assets and personnel,'' which he said makes it difficult for one person to keep his finger on the company's pulse every minute of every day. ``So that's where the challenge is. How successful I'm going to be, I don't know.''
The 62-year-old Mr. DePaolis was offered the job by Paul DeCarolis, company president and CEO, whom he knew as a customer of Antonelli Tire.
Prior to accepting his new job, Mr. DePaolis had to settle contractual matters with the dealership where he began in 1968 as vice president and general manager after 10 years with Firestone. ``Now, I've got to get on with my life and put it behind me,'' he said.
A National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association past-president, who recently has been serving the group as a consultant, Mr. DePaolis will conduct a marketing workshop at the NTDRA's upcoming convention in Dallas.
And it doesn't take one long to realize the former tire dealer's heart is still in the industry he so suddenly departed.
``I still hoped I'd finish my career somewhere in the tire business,'' he said. ``But I couldn't come up with the right combination, and I wasn't willing to pick up and move (from Rochester) at age 62.''
Now he's faced with learning a new business he described as ``a growing company trying to expand.''
Is this self-avowed ``hands-on manager'' up to the challenge?
Are tires round and black?