It's the middle of February, and John Perrotti has just returned home to Rochester from a business trip to India and China. As the president and CEO of Gleason Corp., Perrotti literally sits in the hot seat of strategic command, and is able to switch "gears" in conversation rapidly-whether he's talking about the company's strong infrastructure or building business relationships in the global market.
And gears are the backbone of Gleason-a 142-year-old company which designs, manufactures and sells tools and machinery for the production of bevel and cylindrical gears. True to its company motto, "Keeping the World in Motion," Gleason's customer base ranges from trucks, automotive and power tools, to construction, aerospace, marine and agriculture.
"The hottest need right now is energy, for mining equipment, oil exploration, and wind energy-like the turbines you see in California," Perrotti explains. "Gleason has been going through dramatic change, and I'm pleased to say the company has record high sales and operating results."
In 2007, Perrotti predicts the sales will be in excess of $500 million, five times the amount registered in the early '90s.
With 10 manufacturing plants to oversee-three in the U.S., four in Europe, and three in Asia (one just opened in China)-Perrotti is a man on the move.
"Being responsible for a privately-held, international, multi-million-dollar company is pretty demanding," Perrotti says. "My style is to be hands on, and often on Saturdays, I spend time on the shop floor and visit with some of the employees who are working overtime. It's a good opportunity to find out what's critical."
Perrotti joined Gleason in 1986, starting out as a senior financial analyst on the corporate staff. In a natural progression, he moved up the corporate ladder as director of accounting, controller, executive vice president, chief financial officer and VP operations-to his current position which he has held since 2005.
"I received my undergraduate degree in accounting from RIT's E. Philip Saunders College of Business in 1982, then started my career at one of the 'big eight' accounting firms, Peat Marwick, now called KPMG," says Perrotti, "where I earned my CPA."
Later, while working at Gleason, Perrotti attended the Simon School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester and earned his MBA degree in 1991.
"I have to visit major customers worldwide, but this is part of the job, and it's a good way to build relationships when you see people face to face," Perrotti says. "You learn to respect and enjoy their culture."
Perrotti says his "ease in business situations early in his career" is partially because of what he learned through participating in RIT's co-op program. "I was exposed to a business environment and had to learn how to behave within the dynamics of the office place," says Perrotti, who worked at Harris RF Communications. "It's an important learning tool because you get exposed to the tangible things rather than the technical.
"I learned how good work ethics, a positive attitude and being a good team player are keys to success in business. As a result, I continue to have high expectations for myself as well as for our employees at Gleason-which enables us to consistently exceed our customer expectations."