Eddie Mucci Jr.
2009 PEAK Award Recipient
He’s someone who always seems to listen more than he speaks; a cool temperament in the heat of chaos; a sharply intelligent man who brings out the best in all who surround him.
And like the tempered steel that is manufactured at National Steel Rule in Linden, NJ, USA where he is General Manager, Eddie Mucci, Jr. exudes a strength and toughness that belie his ductility—his ability to bend and change without fracturing under the force of stress. As co-chair of the Odyssey planning committee during one of the industry’s most brutal economic times, Mucci’s precise, well-balanced leadership resulted in a far more successful trade show and educational experience than either the International Association of Diecutting and Diemaking (IADD) or its partner, the Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA), could ever have imagined.
It is for these qualities and specific results that Mucci was selected as the 2009 IADD PEAK Award recipient.
Presented by President Joe Adkison of Adko, Inc., PEAK stands for Performance, Excellence, Achievement, and Knowledge. It focuses on the person who has made the most positive impact on our industry over the past 12-24 months, demonstrating a unique, meaningful, or emerging contribution to the diecutting/diemaking industry.
Speaking to attendees of the IADD’s Annual Meeting held at the Westin Harbor Resort in Savannah, GA, USA, Adkison explained, “Eddie sent out the signal to our industry that now, even more than ever, is the time to gain valuable knowledge of new products, processes, and equipment.”
Adkison adds, “Odyssey exhibitors and attendees raved about the high quality of the educational sessions and the information presented there. It was no easy feat to lead the planning committee with so many time constraints being placed on us because of the economy. Eddie is the one who encouraged us to stay the course and kept us positive.”
Mucci is no stranger to staying on a path. He got his start in the industry at National, where his father was president, the day after he graduated high school. He attended college in New York City so he was able to continue working part time throughout college. Upon graduation, he began working full time and has been there ever since. The first major project he got involved in was getting their first computer system introduced. He says, “Computers being as they are, I can’t say this project has ever really been completed. To this day we are constantly upgrading and adding to the original system we put in 25 years ago.”
After that, he spent time in production management, and ultimately as plant manager. He left National for 18 months when they purchased Seaboard Steel Rule, and then came back in as General Manager, a title he still maintains, though he is pretty much responsible for all day-to day operations as well as strategic planning.
He cites his father and Executive Vice President Joe Bialoglow as his two most influential role models, having worked with them for close to 30 years. However, he explains, “As you go through life, you pick up things from many people that ultimately define you as a person. I can’t point at one person and say I have tried to emulate that person for this reason. I’ve been fortunate in both my professional and personal life to have met people from many different walks of life. You pick up a little bit from one person here and a little more from someone else there and then you decide on your own what type of employee, boss, friend you want to be, and more importantly what kind you don’t want to be.
He feels his greatest accomplishment has been surrounding himself with extremely talented people. In his typical self-effacing way, he says, “It’s hard to say certain things without coming across as being full of oneself, but if I had to pick my one true talent, it’s that I am a really good judge of people. Of course, like everyone else, I have made mistakes, but every time I have misjudged someone, it’s because I ignored the warning signs in my own head. This ‘talent’ has led me to keep truly amazing people around me in my personal life, within the company and without a doubt in the IADD. Everything I have ever accomplished comes back to being supported and encouraged by great people.”
While Mucci received the PEAK because of his accomplishments with the 2009 Odyssey, this actually was not his first time leading the planning group. He was tapped in 2003 when he was President-Elect of the IADD, which makes it more incredible that he was willing to again invest such a large commitment of time. Interestingly, he is more proud of the first Odyssey. “I probably worked harder on that than anything else I have ever done. Odyssey was still new then (it was the second year) and as a group, we still had a lot to learn. Every Odyssey is a challenge unto itself, but today we have certain basics down that were still just being developed in 2003. That accomplishment goes back to being surrounded by extraordinary people. I believe everyone who participates in the planning of Odyssey takes ownership in every show and feels the same feeling of accomplishment when the show comes to an end.” He adds with a laugh, “Ironically, 2003 was probably the show we learned the most from. Unfortunately, we learned a lot about what not to do, but I still loved that show.”
When asked about his other ambitions, Mucci doesn’t hesitate to say, “I think you should always want to leave something better than it was when you got there. When I became president of IADD, first off you never really know what to expect. I looked at the guys who were there before me (Clint Medlock, Kenny Holliday, and Rex Williams) and thought to myself that it is impossible to fill these shoes. Sooner or later (after listening to them), you realize you don’t need to be like them in order to be successful. You have to be yourself and realize you are there for two years, so you should pick your battles wisely and make changes for the better that will survive after you are long gone.”
“It’s the same when it comes to running a business. I tended to be after growth and had the ambition to be a big company. Now, all I care about is being a great company. I know we are good, but I see so much potential for us to be great, and that’s what I want to focus my energy on.”
When asked what makes a business great, he replies, “I may be repeating myself a little bit, but people make a company great. Hiring the right people, giving them the proper tools, and creating a culture where there is a desire to improve makes for a great company. The sad thing is great companies sometimes fail. The key to sustaining a great company is to adapt to changes in the market. Sadly, it’s sometimes harder for a great company to adapt because they are victims of their own success. To me, the key is to do everything you can to become a great company, but maintain a small amount of paranoia that keeps you from relaxing.”
Mucci’s business philosophy can be summed up with a simple acronym: C.A.S. Consistency… Availability… Speed. He says, “The first thing you will notice is what’s missing (quality). In today’s environment, if you have to even think about quality, you are behind the curve. Producing a quality product at a fair price is just the price of admission to this industry; I want our company to focus on consistent (and excellent) service, product availability, and speed. We need to shorten the time it takes to do everything from answering the phone to shipping the material. Again, every company may have different needs or goals, but for us, it’s important to recognize we are a manufacturer; however we operate in a market dictated by service.”
When asked what his IADD participation has meant to him, he replies, “It’s hard to put into words. First and foremost it has provided me the opportunity to work with incredible people. There are people within this organization that I have extraordinary amounts of admiration and respect for. I may have come to know them through the business we do together, but I would never have gotten to truly know them and develop the friendships without the IADD.”
“There is no question that IADD has improved my skills in business. You have to keep in mind that other than jobs I had when I was a kid, I have only really worked in one company. I’m thankful it’s been a successful company so far, but the downside is you don’t get exposed to as many new ideas and new methods as you would if you have a more diverse background. IADD has given me that diversity. It imparted discipline from the budgeting standpoint that I use to this day. It taught me the value of strategic planning and how to tie budgeting and ultimately the compensation system to the broader strategic plan. Obviously in an association you have to build a consensus to get anything done. It’s the same within your own organization. IADD has made me not only a better listener, but has taught me the value of preparation prior to a meeting and how to stick to an agenda.”
Still waters run deep, and while it is harder to get Mucci to talk about his personal likes and dislikes, he did offer up the following: “I love history. If I could teach a subject, it would be history. I’m not as well read on all periods of history, but I am partial to WWII and the Revolutionary War. I like to do many different things when I am not working, but if asked, the one thing I truly could not live without is the ocean. I’ve been lucky enough to live near the ocean most of my life. Even in the dead of winter, I can sit and just watch and listen to the ocean.”
Mucci said he wants people to remember him as a decent person who always tried hard in whatever he was doing. Completing a task and knowing he did the best he could gives him a sense of satisfaction.
With his track record within the IADD, and most notably his recent leadership of the Odyssey planning committee leading to the PEAK Award, there is no doubt that this is exactly how he is perceived.
Our congratulations to Eddie Mucci, Jr., recipient of the 2009 IADD PEAK Award.