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One word, with feeling

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One word, with feeling

When asked, “What one word best describes Bob Sullivan?” his employees, family members and peers had little trouble answering. And they were eager to elaborate.


Paul Sullivan, vice president of marketing: “I think he wants to uphold what we believe is a legacy mission our dad started. We try to continue it in a very humble way. The competition starts when the lights go on, it’s game time, and the clock starts to run, but the humbleness is a lot of the things you do on your own time — the way you live, the way you reach out to the less fortunate.”


Josh Sweeney, TIA-certified tire specialist and head of the call center: “I think what’s so great about Bob Sullivan is he welcomes out-of-the-box ideas and new ways of thinking and innovative thought processes, and really encourages people to build upon that. I think he encourages innovative thinking, which is a real important attribute of a leader.”


John Donovan, vice president of sales: “I’ve known him a long time. I trust him to be very upfront. He has good morals, and is a person you can trust. That translates into never being forced into making a questionable decision. Making the right decision is always the way to go because you’re always backed up.”


Bob Keegan, former chairman and CEO, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.: “He sees his role as the captain of the team, not as an owner whose imperative it is to make all the decisions. He knows he needs a superior team to win in a very competitive business, and he spends considerable time building that team. Of course, he spends time on developing and broadening his personal skill set, and he’s proven to be a courageous leader. He leads his team into new investments, new geographies and new businesses, kind of the definition of courageous.”


Brian Gollub, manager of purchasing and distribution: “He’s one of the few people in my life who I would feel comfortable with making a straight handshake deal without any contract or anything else. He’s a true believer, a man of integrity and honor. You’ll take the hill for the guy.”


Matt Kline, manager, Sullivan Tire’s Braintree, Mass., store: “His family is anyone who works for the company. He makes the company, as big as it is, feel like a mom-and-pop company, which is what attracted me to it. He’s a people person. He cares about his people first, hands down. When he comes in, he says ‘hi’ to the first person he sees, whether it’s a technician or a customer or me or a salesperson.”


Saul Ludwig, managing director, Northcoast Research Holdings LLC: “He has a real sense of family with his entire employee organization. I would give him high marks for the sincere, deep feelings he has for the welfare of the communities in which he operates. He’s a good businessman, too, but that is not all he thinks about.”


Cathy DiTullio, executive assistant: “He can’t do enough for people. He wants to help everybody. It’s so rare to find a president who gives so much to his employees.”


Joe Zaccheo, CFO: “He’s driven to succeed. He’s never satisfied with having a good year. He wants to make the company better.”


Joan Kirby, accounts payable department specialist: “He just handles everything with a good way about him. He handles people in such a calm and wonderful way, and just makes them feel at home. He makes people feel relaxed, especially new people coming in.”

Kirby, who started with the company 34 years ago, describes the late Robert Sullivan as “joyful.”

“He had the biggest smile, and he wanted you to feel comfortable around him. He wanted everyone to feel comfortable on the same level, basically.”    ■

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