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Tony Gareri, CEO of Roma Moulding, based in Vaughan, Ont. (Handout)
Tony Gareri, CEO of Roma Moulding, based in Vaughan, Ont. (Handout)

Q&A

Family business CEO ‘restarts’ the company to improve culture Add to ...

A: Frame shops and gallery shops. We do the lion’s share of our business with those folks. We’ve now moved into the hospitality industry so we’ll do hotels like the Belaggio hotel, which we’ve outfitted, all the way down to your mom-and-pop artisan frame shop in New York City. It runs the gamut. It’s a traditional B2B business so frame shops, galleries and hospitality.

Our venture into the e-commerce world is very separate, it’s not going to touch our existing channel, and that’s what excites us a lot more. This would be the first big push into B2C (business to consumer).

Q: In how many countries are you doing business?

A: We know we do business in about five countries, but where those products get distributed after that who knows.

Q: What’s your role as CEO? Are you more of a long-term strategy guy, or a day-to-day manager?

A: I’m much more of a strategy guy, but I am in day-to-day right now because we restarted three years ago and it takes time to build a culture-based company, it takes a minimum of five years to a lifetime, as (Zappos CEO) Tony Hsieh states. Today I have three primary roles: it’s about the brand, it’s about the culture and it’s about the people.

I don’t think I’ll ever stray from those. What I will do is I’ll take a higher position or a 30,000-foot look at people, culture and the brand. Those are the three main components. Lately I’ve primarily been a talent scout, and kind of an ambassador for this company.

The more I speak, the more I get people interested and intrigued in what we’re doing. Therefore they want to join our team. Therefore they allow me more freedom.

Q: You also call yourself a culture mentor for various companies. What does that mean and who are you helping?

A: One mainly is 360Incentives. A dear friend of mine, Todd Skinner, was their chief happiness officer. We hit it off early on, and we helped each other. Unfortunately he passed away from a sudden heart-attack when he was 40 years old, it was a nightmare. His death put a hole, or a void, in that company. It’s a great company but there was a void.

Jason (Atkins, founder and CEO) has asked me, along with two other individuals, to be a culture mentor for the team. We help support each other. There are other companies I support and help. I don’t do it to get paid. I do it because I love it.

I’m helping with company culture leadership, almost like a consulting role.

Q: Do you ever get the itch to build a company from scratch? Why or why not?

A: I do. I guess that’s where the e-commerce comes in. I want to go into the unknown. I want to explore. I feel like I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for a while and I want to get uncomfortable.

I want to play in an arena that’s big. I want to attract the world’s best talent. I want to start a company culture from scratch. I want people to come to work and be so elated that they almost forget what they’re doing and produce the best work of their life.

I always say this: You can join a company that did it, or you can join a company that’s doing it. And by doing it, you can produce the best of your life. You won’t be talking about the heydays, you’re living the heydays. But you have to believe in it. You have to believe in our culture. If you’re that person, great, if you’re not I’m okay with that.

Q: Do you have any ideas that are completely divorced from what you’re doing now that you’ve wanted to pursue?

A: Something around culture and leadership. Whether it’s a summit or an actual organization, my dream is to go into the worst cultures, I mean the nastiest ones, the ones where they booby-trap people’s rooms. I want to give them the tools to help change that around and impact the happiness in those folks.

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