I met Ron Pileggi in 1983 when he hired me as an ad sales rep for the Tri-City weekly paper in Eureka. He struck me as an entrepreneurial visionary on a mission to change the community in a positive way via business. As owner and the founding architect of the Tri-City weekly newspaper, Ron modeled great business acumen. He showed me how to conduct business in a process that really valued people first. Here are the seven lessons he taught me and still teaches me today.

Rule No. 1: People come first. People, relationships, and friendships are everything in business and in life. As the owner/operator of the Tri City, he modeled real care for employees, clients, vendors, people in his industry and beyond. Client relationships and personal care of others was at the forefront of everything Ron practiced in his business.

Rule No. 2: Client relationships are key. Ron demonstrated this in his actions and policies. He said that good leadership is all about being a good servant. He taught that good service sets the stage for good customer loyalty and customer relations. If you serve your clients and take good care of them — they will take care of you as well. Customers vote in dollars and purchasing — people really do buy from people they know, like, and trust. One thing he told us is to go out and make friendships — then people will naturally buy from you.

Rule No. 3: Turn off the lights. He often told me if you want to be a manager you must act like a manager and be a dutiful steward of your business. He challenged me to personally take good care of the resources entrusted to me. Things such as time, energy, and resources were looked at in a new light. This taught me that I need to take ownership of all I do at work.

Rule No. 4: Speech is powerful. Ron often stated that the power of your words is everything. When words are spoken with clarity and sincerity — people are really affected by what we say both in business and in life. When we say what we mean, and mean what we say — we are often unstoppable. He taught me about the power of words and I’ve remembered this lesson.

Rul No. 5: Be involved in your community — participate readily and joyfully. Ron modeled good community involvement in CASA and in Rotary and more. He was always the guy to say “yes” to someone with a good cause. He may not have been involved directly, but he gave freely of his resources where he could. His involvement modeled what we all need to do-to be involved with causes that we resonate with and are most passionate about. Find your cause or your passion and then plug in your gifts and experiences and resources. You will add to the greater good in your community and beyond.

Rule No. 6: Think creatively and out-of-the-box at all times. This means not only with business and selling, but also in the ways that help people. Be willing to bend or even break the rules as necessary and as it makes sense to benefit the greater good. “Be entrepreneurial in your problem solving”, he would challenge. He taught how to think creatively with regard to business problem solving and helping customers meet their needs. He often showed us and told us that if we meet others’ needs, they will meet ours as well. If you help enough people get what they need, they will help you do the same.

Rule No. 7: Be generous and celebrate people. His Christmas parties exemplified a great generosity and were always “over the top” in showing his appreciation for his staff. Ron would gladly put on the most fun event — even for an outgoing employee. He didn’t know selfishness. My father, Bob Hammond, called him “a prince of a man” in that he was always very generous with his employees, clients, and his community. We all were the better for that — and, I believe, so was he.

In summary, Ron was human. He had his moments — like each of us. The one thing he did was to model a whole business person. He cared for others and was profitable at the same time. He found that balance between business profitability/success and taking care of other’s needs; Ron was able to do both. He left an indelible mark and positive legacy on this community for over 30 years and still does to this day. It is a pleasure to know a boss and a friend like a Ron Pileggi. If you ever have the opportunity to work for a businessperson of this kind, you will agree that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thanks, Ronnie.

Scott Hammond works in Eureka and lives in McKinleyville.

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