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Alumni Profile: Vincent NaimoliVincent Naimoli, MBA’64 (F-M), remembers listening to his portable radio while on his newspaper route. His beloved Dodgers were one out away from taking the 1951 pennant until the Giants’ Bobby Thomson hit one of the most dramatic home runs in baseball history. Within the same decade the Dodgers would disappoint Naimoli again, leaving Brooklyn for the warm skies of California.
The dual disappointments must have made a big impression on Naimoli because today, as the managing general partner and CEO of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he often is characterized by his determination to build a winner and by his loyalty to the Florida community he calls home.
Already a renowned business leader, Naimoli in 1991 became the leading force in the quest to bring a major league team to Tampa Bay. Naimoli refused to accept anything but success, and in 1995 Tampa Bay got its team and the estimated $250 million it will bring annually to the economy. This year, the Devil Rays took the field for the first time. “It was a path of 10,000 steps, 10,000 phone calls, 10,000 frustrations,” says Naimoli, “but now we have started down a new path — toward giving Tampa Bay a winner on and off the field.”
That commitment also is manifested in the Devil Rays’ ownership of four of their minor league clubs and a partial interest in a fifth. “It is another case where Vince Naimoli and the ownership group are doing everything they can to bring a championship to Tropicana Field,” says Devil Rays’ Senior Vice President for Baseball Operations and General Manager Chuck LaMar.
With an engineering degree from the University of Notre Dame, Naimoli oversaw the design of the 15-month, $85-million renovation of the Devil Rays’ Tropicana Field. He insisted that the stadium reflect the game’s traditional ways, and as a result, the field features asymmetrical outfield dimensions, seats close to the action and is the first synthetic turf field in 20 years to incorporate dirt base paths.
A substantial concern of Naimoli’s was to provide greater access for the handicapped. At his urging, Tropicana Field has nearly 40 percent more handicapped-accessible seats than it had previously, when it was known as the Thunderdome. This earned Naimoli an award from the Committee to Advocate for Persons with Impairments (C.A.P.I.) in 1996.
Naimoli has been involved in many charitable projects throughout the Tampa Bay area. He has enlisted the Devil Rays in Major League Baseball’s RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) and is the driving force behind the establishment of the team’s own charitable foundation called the Tampa Bay Rays of Hope Foundation.
As a 21-year resident of Tampa, Naimoli received the very first “Bridging the Bay” award in 1996, recognizing him as the individual who has done the most to unite the citizens of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. He also has received similar community service awards from the Urban League, the Jewish National Fund, the Tampa Sports Club, Boys and Girls Clubs and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
In the professional world, Naimoli has developed an uncanny knack for turning troubled companies into winners. As chairman, president and chief executive officer of Anchor Industries International, he was named “1995 Florida Entrepreneur of the Year” in the “turnaround” category. Quite an achievement considering the risk he and a group of investors took in 1983 when they purchased Anchor Glass Container Corporation, which was deeply in debt. By 1987, Naimoli turned the firm into the nation’s third most profitable company, and when he sold Anchor Glass, sales were soaring past $1 billion.
In 1989, Naimoli created Anchor Industries International, an operating/ holding entity that acquires interest in and operates and adds value to well-established, mid-sized growth companies in diverse industries. Activities of Anchor Industries include stock ownership, and managerial assignments involving Naimoli.
In September 1992, creditors appointed Naimoli director of Harvard Industries, only one month after the company emerged from bankruptcy reorganization. A year later, the company attained almost $7 million in earnings — up from a loss of $131 million a year earlier. Doehler-Jarvis Inc., North America’s largest independent manufacturer of aluminum castings, was preparing to file for bankruptcy in November 1991 when Naimoli took control of the company. In 1992, the company lost $29 million and in 1993 it had profits of $10 million.
Naimoli is looking to orchestrate similar successes with the Devil Rays.
And when the pennant is on the line, he’s hoping that the next Bobby Thomson
is wearing a Devil Rays uniform. — S.F.L.
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