GUELPH, Ontario—Geoff Valeriote hears from skeptics all the time who can't believe he works for his father.
But he says these people don't know what it's like to work for his dad, Rick Valeriote, chief operating officer of Poly-Nova Technologies L.P. and Rubber & Plastics News' 2017 Rubber Industry Executive of the Year.
When Geoff joined Poly-Nova 13 years ago, it was still a family-owned business and it was his decision—not his dad's—to come aboard. "The opportunity to work under, work for and work with someone like my father does not come up very often," said Geoff, the firm's marketing and sales manager.
The younger Valeriote said his father doesn't micro-manage, he has great vision for the business and isn't afraid to rely on his team. "Rick is a very intense, very passionate guy," Geoff said. "He's the perfect combination if you were to take a chemical engineer, an entrepreneur and executive, and perfectly balanced it. I haven't run across anybody like that as long as I've been involved in this business."
Geoff sees his father as an excellent motivator of people, but doesn't come down on people if something goes awry. "You're allowed to make mistakes here as long as you're committed to pushing the ball forward," he said. "We're never satisfied with where we are. That comes from Rick, and I think it's contagious."
Even with the high degree of automation that drives Poly-Nova's rubber molding operations, Rick and the team already are working on the next phase. "This company is always trying to define or find the future of rubber molding," Geoff said. "Doing it the old way? Nobody's interested in that here anymore."