Growing Great Companies


My Greatest Asset

August 16, 2017

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy many successes in my life so far, including being the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Ropella, the leading Executive Search firm specializing in the chemical industry.  Hands down, though, my greatest asset in life is my beautiful wife, Robbie.

From the day we met, Robbie has never stopped challenging me, both personally and professionally, and that’s one of the things I love about her.  Before starting Ropella, I was a partner at a health club.  Robbie applied for a position, and the other decision-makers wanted to hire her because she looked like an NFL cheerleader.  I didn’t want to hire her, because hiring on appearance wasn’t how I wanted to run a business.  I got out voted, and within a few weeks, Robbie showed us all just how wrong we were.  She wasn’t going to fall for men drooling over her (as they had hoped), and she was the top membership sales representative (showing me that she had the brains, ability, and personality to rival her good looks).  It took me seven years to get a first date with her.  From there, I didn’t waste any time: on our first date, I told her I loved her, and on the second date, I proposed.  She turned me down, of course, but after several more months of badgering, but I finally got her to say yes.

Robbie has always been a hard worker; when we met, she was working several jobs, putting herself through school, and she still had time to be an amazing single mother.  Nowadays she does much of the day-to-day work of leading Ropella, and I can attribute much of our success to her leadership and perseverance.  She especially shines at trade shows – while I would be just one out of a thousand guys attending, she’s one out of maybe 20 girls.  She’s beautiful, she’s charming, and she knows how to attract attention.  We were at a trade show once where I was trying to connect with the President of Shell.  Suddenly, I hear this angelic voice piping through the speakers – Robbie is up on stage at the Shell event singing karaoke.  The key executives nearby were talking about her, asking each other whether this was a professional that they had hired to perform; I happily stepped in and proudly declared “No, that’s my amazing wife!”  Thanks to her amazing voice, self-confidence, and adventurous spirit, I got that meeting with the President.

Finally, Robbie is one of the most compassionate people I know.  She is always looking for ways to give back to family, employees, and the community.  (I’ll be talking about our latest efforts to give back next week.)  She has a huge heart for people, and an endless love for God.  Even though we occasionally drive each other crazy, I can honestly say that she makes me a better man and that every day of my life is better for having her in it.


Birthday Extravaganza

August 01, 2017

My wife, Robbie, and I have birthdays that are very close together, and we both celebrated the beginning of another year last month.  It has me feeling a bit reflective, and I’ve been considering the journey that brought me to this exciting point in my life.  It hasn’t always been easy, but all of the trials and hardships have led me to the multitude of personal and professional blessings I now have.

Our awesome team went all out on our present this year – a cooler that we can take out on our boat, packed full with goodies.  Snacks – most of which I (semi-playfully) claimed, since they aren’t on Robbie’s diet.  (You know, the diet I’m always insisting she doesn’t need to be on, since she’s already perfect.)  It also included a gift card for each of us; Robbie’s was for her favorite store, Lilly Pulitzer, which she insisted on using immediately, even if it made us late to the movie we were going to see.  (Turned out that we arrived just on time, and even if we had been late, it would have been worth it for how happy the new bag and flip flops she got made her.)


No Place Like Home

July 05, 2017

After a whirlwind week in Las Vegas for IFT17, it is great to finally be back home with my beautiful wife, Robbie. The Ropella IFT2017 team – myself, Scott Schmieder, Jeff Bennett, and Travis Oran – had an amazing time meeting with food industry leaders, but (as Dorothy would say) “There’s no place like home.”

I’ve been showing Robbie our pictures from the show; it’s a good thing I came home with a lot of new business, or, based on the pictures, she might have thought I just took the guys on a vacation without her. Somehow, we managed to fit a number of adventures into our jam-packed schedule: We jumped in on a Stein-Holding Contest (Jeff took first place), experienced Cirque du Soleil’s “Ka”, took a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, and – my personal favorite –drove exotic sports cars at top speeds around a race track. (I won, with a top speed of 152 in a Mclaren.)

For those of you who attend such things, what is your all-time favorite convention/tradeshow and location, and why? Looking forward to my next adventure….hope to meet many of you in my upcoming travels.


Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour

June 29, 2017

Wrapping up my last day here in Vegas. Whew, what a whirlwind. I had a blast catching up with colleagues from the food industry that I haven’t seen in a while. Back-to-back meetings are sending us home with exciting new projects. I better warn the home-team, they are going to be very, very busy!  

Stay tuned for more on what we did during the show next week. For now, we’re ready to get home to Pensacola, Florida (where, perhaps ironically, it’s not nearly as hot) …

Our flight doesn’t leave until later today, so we decided to embark on one last adventure before we leave: A helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon!  The Grand Canyon itself is a humbling experience, but the birds-eye view from the helicopter was even more so. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that none of us will ever forget.  


What Happens in Vegas

June 27, 2017

After a long day of air travel with a pre-dawn departure, my team and I decided to kick back and enjoy a well-deserved dinner at Hofbräuhaus, Las Vegas last night ( If you have never been here, it’s an experience worth having. We got into the spirit of the Biergarten and decided to compete in the Stein-Holding Contest… Jeff Bennett – Ropella’s Vice President of Client Partnership Development – took first place! Jeff is seen in the below picture on the far right, with his game face on. I love the energy here in Vegas; opening day and my schedule is packed For those who haven’t seen my previous posts: We are in Las Vegas meeting with key clients and new partners at #IFT17. If you’re attending the conference, stop by Booth V314 to say “hello”.


IFT 2017

June 24, 2017

Las Vegas here I come! Heading to IFT2017 next week. The Ropella team will be exhibiting and my schedule is packed with meetings with key clients and new partners; it’s exciting to see how many organizations are aggressively growing their organizations this year. I’m looking forward to catching up with food industry colleagues while at the conference, and have a little bit of fun as well. Last time I was in Vegas I took my team to experience Ka, one of the amazing shows put on by Cirque Du Soleil. It’s something they still talk about, might have to check out another one of their shows while we are in town…any recommendations? It’s been a whirlwind of a year here at Ropella. If you’re going to be at IFT2017, stop by Booth V314. I’d love to hear what 2017 has been like for you so far.


Back From Chicago

June 07, 2017

Had a blast while in Chicago, visits there always go by too quickly. Robbie and I walked the Magnificent Mile before we left. Even though this was a business trip, we took time out to revisit some of our old stomping grounds. Our client is setting up interviews with several exceptionally talented candidates, and we enjoyed a trip to one of our favorite restaurants, McCormick & Schmick's, so a successful trip on all levels.


Heading To Chicago

June 03, 2017

Heading to Chicago with my beautiful wife and business partner, Robbie. We will be in town to meet with a key client who has significant senior-level hiring needs due to expansion, but this trip means much more than that to me. For me, it’s a personal homecoming, bringing my journey full circle. After all, Ropella's headquarters may currently be located in Milton, Florida, but the company started in downtown Chicago over 25 years ago. (In my one-bedroom condo, to boot.)