The Strome file Featured

4:45am EDT March 1, 2006
Born: Lynn, Mass.

Education: Bachelor of science degree, Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Mich.; MBA, Wayne State University, Detroit

First job: A summer job working in a factory that manufactured tubes. Out of college, my first job was at Kmart.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?
Every manager and executive has a lot of strengths, and each also has what psychologists will call flat spots, or warts. But you can pick people you respect in some areas and leverage upon their strengths and watch what they do well.

I admire Jack Welch and Sam Walton, who was clearly a great communicator. He understood people and had the common touch. Harry Cunningham, the founder of Kmart, was innovative.

What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
The need to have smart, good, capable people with a good attitude. That is what makes a company tick. It isn’t any one person — it’s a group of people working hard, pulling for success.

What has been your toughest business challenge?
Going from a decentralized company to a centralized company in 1998. Those were tough times because they involved changes to the culture and getting people to think differently. Some people said, ‘This isn’t going to work. How is it going to work?’

Describe your leadership style.
Collaborative — and I think it needs to be that way. You need to have the capability to skim and dive.

Strome on music: I’m not a hard rocker, and certainly I’m not a rapper. If this company depended on me to buy music, we’d be bankrupt. ... I do like the new Bette Midler, new Rod Stewart, and even Tommy Lee has some strong stuff.

Strome on finding new business and leaving old business: You can’t fall in love with business. When it doesn’t’ make money anymore, you need to know when to leave it.