Education: Bachelor of arts degree, business management, New Hampshire College
First job: In the shipping and receiving department of our family business (Shearer Industrial Supply) when I was 12 years old. The first job they gave me to do was to sweep the entire warehouse, and the second job was to wash the outside of the building. The building itself was an historic landmark; it was used as a hospital during the Civil War, and I'm not sure the floors had been swept or the building had been washed before I was asked to do it.
Career moves: I joined Shearer Industrial right out of college, and within five years became president. That was in 1990. Seven years later is when we did IDG, and then four years (after that) is when I became the CEO of IDG.
What is the greatest business lesson you've learned?
There are a lot of extremely intelligent people, whether in this business or in this world, that are willing to share their thoughts and wisdom with you. And whether those are your associates or customers, whether they're your peers or part of your board of directors, the key is being able to listen and learn from those people, and then take from that their wisdom and make a difference in your own business.
What is the greatest business challenge you've faced, and how did you overcome it?
Certainly three years ago when I assumed the responsibilities as the CEO of IDG, the organization was in turmoil. What I did to overcome that is I surrounded myself with the best possible people and leaders and tried to create an environment that would allow each of them to feel free in sharing their ideas and knowledge.
I listened to that feedback and information, but also, once we, as a team, made a decision, we were fully committed to that resolve.
Whom do you admire most in business?
I'd have to say my father. Shearer Industrial Supply was a third-generation business. I entered the business at a very young age and had a number of crazy ideas and changes that I wanted to make to the organization.
Knowing that that was my father's business that he had managed for 25 years prior to that, instead of being resistant to those ideas, he was extremely receptive. He allowed me to make some mistakes that I learned from, but he was also willing to take a different look and approach to a business that he had been in his entire career.
In a short period of time, I was able to demonstrate my capabilities, and I was 28 or 29 years old when I became president of that company. I respect him and admire him for his ability to mentor me and allow me to make mistakes, learn from the mistakes, and ultimately, be successful.