After a brief retirement from 2000 to 2005, Len Ciarrocchi, former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for CCC Information Services, came across an opportunity he couldn't pass up. After 42 years in business, Municipal Supply & Sign Company, one of the largest metal sign suppliers of traffic control and safety related products in the Southeastern United States, was for sale.
"I couldn't believe someone would let this model go," Ciarrocchi said. "Even though, at the time, it was just a big 'contract shop', it was a very opportunistic purchase. I recognized the opportunities for expansion."
Ciarrocchi purchased Municipal Supply & Sign Company in 2005. He initially moved to Ft. Myers before relocating to Naples to be closer to the business. Ciarrocchi spent the first few years in more of an absentee owner role before taking the helm in 2009.
"I assumed day-to-day responsibilities right around the recession," he said. "Our business, along with many other businesses, went to hell. The whole world fell apart, but we stayed focused and adapted. Eventually we expanded our presence to a national level and started doing more Internet business."
In 2015, Municipal added the Signarama-Naples franchise to the mix. As Ciarrocchi shared, as a result of the acquisition, the company was now in a position to provide a broader array of marketing and signage solutions.
"This was a marketing decision to open our capabilities to other markets," Ciarrocchi said. "Each business strengthened the other. The financial strength of Municipal helped Signarama take on some large jobs and Municipal now had the ability to do more business marketing. Through Signarama, we're able to do Building signs, ADA Signs, Digital Signs, Banners, Brochures, Floor Graphics, Vehicle Graphics and so much more."
Looking ahead, Ciarrocchi, who enjoys owning and running a local business, is focused on growing both sides of his operation. His exit strategy is still a work in progress and, as you might expect from someone who got antsy the first time he retired, he's in no hurry to do it again.
What advice does Ciarrocchi have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "When it comes to making a business successful, the most important part is your passion towards it," he said. "The only thing that stops people is working through the mechanics of how to accomplish it. Once you have a business and a team, remember that every employee has their own individual personality. Take the time to understand what drives your team members. Make them feel part of the action. Lastly, if you're going to buy a business, it's important to know that all businesses have histories. Understanding those histories will lead you to understand what problems might crop up in the future."