Above: Rick Bastinelli with Frank and Carol Cannata.
We were invited to the annual Centric Business Systems holiday celebration in Baltimore, Maryland, on January 20, which included President Rick Bastinelli’s retirement party. Friends from all over the country—and I am not kidding—showed up to wish Rick the absolute best.
Joe Reeves of Smile Business Products traveled from Sacramento, California; BTA’s Bob Goldberg from Chicago; Predictive InSight’s Ed McLaughlin from North Carolina, Doug Albregts of Marco from Saint Cloud, Minnesota; Ben Simone, Rick’s mentor from Pennsylvania; and Mike Marusic and John Sheehan from Sharp, and many others to honor Rick.
Frank G. Cannata (far right) is joined by Sharp presidents past and present, including Doug Albregts, Ed McLaughlin, and Mike Marusic, who traveled to Baltimore to give their regards to Rick Bastinelli.
A total of 173 people joined the celebration to say thank you to one of the most highly respected people we know in the business. It was a great success. Bob Goldberg did his usual brilliant Master of Ceremonies bit, and it was a wonderful evening.
It is a credit to Rick that so many people came from distant places to say good luck and Godspeed. Many of our dealer audience do not fully understand the difficulty of business travel. We are not looking for accolades but rather an understanding of the things we do out of respect for our peers.
To give you some idea, CJ and I traveled from Newark to Portland, Oregon for the Pacific Office Automation annual sales meeting the previous weekend. We highly value the invitation as did many other industry leaders, including Mike Marusic and Laura Blackmer who attended the same event.
The meeting was January 12-14. During a storm, we all traveled to Portland. CJ’s flight was canceled and was rescheduled to arrive in Oregon some seven hours later. I took an earlier flight and was not delayed. On Sunday, the 14th the people I just mentioned, excluding me, flew from Portland to Scottsdale, Arizona for the Executive Connection Summit. I took a redeye home on the 14th because my return flight was canceled. Everyone else returned home on the 17th.
We all traveled from our homes on Saturday, January 20th for Rick’s farewell celebration. We decided to drive from New Jersey to Baltimore rather than take a train. Driving got us there in four hours. We then turned around on Sunday the 21st to head home. Ed McLaughlin drove seven hours to attend.
We go through this exercise to let you know we would like to accept every invitation, but it is just not possible. This time, we were able to be there for our friend who is retiring.
The celebration was a remarkable success. Rick asked those of us who were invited to speak to make our remarks more about the status of Centric in our copier/print world than about him.
As I said in my remarks, “Suck it up and let us say what we have to say.” I said that Rick is quick to attribute his success to everyone else but himself. Several years ago, I interviewed him and asked where he got his inspiration for becoming an independent dealer. He told me that Ben Simone of Copy World in Pennsylvania was his mentor. He dubbed Ben a true visionary in that he was using acquisition as a strategy for expansion rather than opening branches long before anyone else even thought about it.
Rick Bastinelli thanks his co-workers, business partners, and special guests.
How successful did Centric Business Systems become under Rick’s leadership? Part of the celebration was to say thank you to all the employees present for reaching the $70 million plateau in 2023. Centric’s new owners, UBEO, are committed to making them even more successful.
Rick left his team to an organization that is truly a builder in the dealer channel, and we are enjoying watching them acquire and expand. A major credit goes to Jim Sheffield of UBEO who put a team together that is focusing on building and doing it the right way. There are others that are doing the same thing and that is good news for all of us.
As for Rick, going to an American Coop meeting or a Sharp dealer event without him present will be nowhere near as pleasant. He wrote the constitution for American Coop, and it is a first-rate independent dealer group, in great part, because of him.
As Sharp President & CEO Mike Marusic said, “Rick has been on our dealer advisory council for as long as he has been at Sharp.” Two past Sharp presidents Ed McLaughlin and Doug Albregts who were also present could say the same thing. The only former Sharp executive missing was Mike Pietrunti who also valued Rick’s contributions to the council.
The thing we treasure the most about the business we started 45 years ago is the wonderful people we have come to know and call friends. It is an incredible list of individuals who are true givers and not takers. Neither are they infatuated with their own success but are quick to identify their mentors and the many who helped them along the way.
It was a wonderful evening and despite the travel challenges we would not have missed it for anything. People like Rick are not the type of person who you meet every day. To know him is a gift that all the Cannatas will cherish for many years.