By Wesley Sykes / email@example.com
Posted Jun 15, 2017 at 9:11 PM
Updated Jun 15, 2017 at 9:11 PM
Tony Sapienza urged the emerging leaders of Greater New Bedford to ‘sail away from the safe harbor.’
NEW BEDFORD — Joseph Abboud CEO Tony Sapienza is set to retire, but before doing so he passed along some of his secrets to success.
They were simple.
“Organize. Delegate. Supervise. Check,” he told the crowd at the New Bedford Whaling Museum for the SouthCoast5 awards. “As a leader of a business, you must create jobs; build a team; make money; and give back to the community.”
For 21 years, Sapienza followed those words, told to him by his father. On Thursday, as the recipient of the Irwin M. and Joan K. Jacobs Leadership Award, he bestowed those words to those in the audience.
“I like that he said things don’t have to be over-complicated,” said Brian Pastori, deputy director of the Community Economic Development Center. “He has a simple life motto: respect other people and organize a team that works for you.”
Pastori, one of the five emerging leaders awarded, said it was comforting to know as Sapienza executes that approach on the macro level, with roughly 800 employees, he can do the same with a team of four.
“That meant a lot,” he said.
The other emerging leaders awarded were Jennifer Vincent, a partner and adjunct faculty member for Smith & Vincent Grant Writing Services and BCC; Scott DuBois, co-founder of Pidalia; Jeffrey Wotton, founder of Spectrum Marketing Group; Bruce W. Tench II, assistant principal of Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District.
Wotton was encouraged by the presence of community-minded people.
“We all have the same amount of time. We all have the same demands in life, but to see how some people step up more than others is really important,” he said. “I think the area needs that. I think we more people like them.”
Building on his final bullet point — giving back to the community — Mayor Jon Mitchell, along with The Standard-Times and SouthCoastToday.com editor Beth Perdue, introduced Sapienza as a champion for the city in business, education, philanthropy and economics.
“New Bedford is a place where business can thrive once again. He helps set the tone for that,” said Mitchell, stopping at one point to motion to the inner stitching of his suit jacket that showed the Joseph Abboud label. “He moves the needle in New Bedford.”
Perdue added, “It’s been said that a rising tide lifts all boats. Tony is a strong current within the rising tide.”
In addition to running the men’s clothing manufacturing site, Sapienza is also the chair for the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board, Regeneration Committee and the New Bedford Economic Development Council.
He urged the crowd to not shy away from acting in self-interest. It’s important, he said, recalling the desire to get a good education and meeting sale quotas helped better those around him as well as himself.
“Acting for self interest can benefit the community,” Wotton, who took that message to heart, said. “If we don’t act in our own self interests to better ourselves how are we going to better the lives of those around us?”
To close, Sapienza — who took time to clear the emotional lump in his throat — hearkened back to a Mark Twain quote, imploring the crowd to do as much as possible.
“Twenty years from now, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did,” he said. “Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore and discover.”
Follow Wesley Sykes on Twitter @WesleySykes_SCT.
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