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Rocky Guarriello
President of Ultimate Textile, Inc.

Rocky Guarriello

A photo cut line in a 1968 company profile said of Anthony Guarriello, president of Palisades Industries, then a fledgling custom dyer in Peace Dale, Rhode Island: "Here's Anthony Guariello Jr.......photographed on a rare visit to his office. Most of the time he's in the plant, supervising production and getting modernization and expansion programs underway.

Move the calendar forward 28 years, and you could say the same of his son, Anthony "Rocky" Guarriello, president of Ultimate Textile, a new custom dying operation in Rutherfordton, N.C. The most difficult part of interviewing the younger Guarriello is monopolizing his attention: Like his father, Rocky is strictly hands on when it comes to managing his new operation. If he's not matching a dye swatch to a sample or calculating a dye add for the drug room, he's out on the plant floor, going from machine to machine, never failing to note those small things that need attention for Ultimate to retain the top-flight reputation it has rapidly gained in the marketplace.

Guarriello's management style was ingrained from an early age. He says a most vivid memory is his father rousting the three sons from bed in the pre-dawn hours to help remove a section of the plant roof before the daytime heat became to oppressive.

This early influence played a big role in the management style you see at Ultimate:

  • Hands on: "If you are going to lead your people, you have to prove to them that you can handle your job."
  • Learn about your people: "How else will you learn if they're interested in the business? If they don't ask questions, and if you don't listen and provide answers, you are in trouble.
  • Put time and effort into cultivating a relationship with your employees: "They're the most important element in making the business go."
  • Know why you're here (Rocky's father taught him the value and appreciation of color): "It's important to remember what colors do to a product," says Rocky. 'If the product looks good and has a good hand, the customer can sell it. If you are dying a range on the same fabric style, you've got to be certain that each is compatible. One shade that looks out of place can detract from the others."

Rocky and his brothers, Gary and Kevin, bought Palisades Textile mill, in Peace Dale, Rhode Island, in 1983, and literally drew straws to relegate responsibilities.

In 1987 Rocky became president, and in the next five years Palisades' business volume grew by 400% while adding only two people to the payroll. But Rocky wanted a business in the Southern U.S. and eventually turned Palisades over to his brothers. In a 2 year period, he looked a 63 sites, ranging from vacant buildings to pasture land. He finally settled on the present location, a peach orchard owned by a truck driver who made deliveries to Palisades.