Issue: September/October 2013
2013 Best Places to Work: Life Lessons From Chuck Rotuno
President and CEO, OEConnection
Chuck Rotuno was raised on entrepreneurship. After spending his formative years working in the family’s grocery store, Rotuno founded OEConnection in 2000 with the support of Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and Bell & Howell. Now with more than 260 employees, the Richfield-based company facilitates the sale of original equipment auto parts through its e-commerce portal used by more than 35,000 auto repair shops and dealerships in the United States and Canada.
There was a lot
of accountability, even at a very young age, working for dad.
When you work
in the family business, no matter what age you are, you find that you are in charge.
I’m the youngest,
and my siblings always told me I’m the bossiest. So they’re not surprised I’m in a job like this.
I was somewhat reluctant
at first. But you don’t get an opportunity very often to start a business with other people’s money, so I jumped in with both feet.
along my career path has been a blessing and has prepared me for what I’m doing today.
I like the ability
to make decisions and to try things. If it works, that’s great, and if it doesn’t, you try something else. That’s what I like about working in a small business.
It ultimately comes down to
one very simple thing that people in business struggle to get right, and that’s the people side of the equation.
We [hire] the people
we think have the right value systems, skills and capabilities. Then we’ll figure out what opportunities we’ll have them work on.
Innovation is not invention.
Innovation is challenging everything that’s done in every process, nook and cranny in the business so that it gets better.
Growth is a lot
more fun than decline.
Our job is never done.
In a growing business, we’re constantly having more people come in who have to learn what we’re about and have to buy in, if you will.
That's the only way
we’re going to grow.
We aren’t afraid
to try new things and see what’s possible.
If we can always challenge
how to make things better, we believe that the customer will see value in our business.
We want to be
the mogul of the automotive technology world.
The No. 1 strategy
is to be an employer of choice. It’s about attracting and retaining the best people in the industry.
Ten years ago,
building Internet solutions was unique. It’s not unique anymore, but what is unique is the team you put behind it and how you can make the customer experience that much better.
I don’t have to try
[to stay enthusiastic]. It’s in the DNA. I love what I do.
I consider it a privilege
that I get to lead this great company. I’m surrounded by a terrifically talented group of people who all want to do the same thing, and that’s improve the business.
Staying the same
is never a good strategy. You’re either growing or declining.
We are constantly challenging
ourselves to take our best people and throw them a curveball. What we hire them for might not be what they’re doing a year from now.
If Northeast Ohio
has one really great opportunity, it’s for colleges and universities to buckle down on computer science programs in a way that prepares more students for technology careers.
are extremely large, somewhat bureaucratic entities that own a minimal, small, fast-paced technology startup. It’s unique, but it has worked out extremely well.
If you want to be
in a leadership position, you have to be given the opportunity to lead.
We’ve had free rein
to do that.
There is a lot of need
in the market. Every business needs technology people.
The reason you sleep
at night is because you have the right people doing the right things.
For myself personally,
I just hope to continue to be at the driver’s seat, enjoying the ride.
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