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As a leader, he counts on hard work and trust

Rochester Business Journal
May 24, 2013

Paul Ozminkowski lives by a saying his father often used: "A job worth doing is a job worth doing right."
 
"I've tried to live my whole life that way," Ozminkowski says.
 
He brings that philosophy to work as president of VI Manufacturing Inc.
 
Ozminkowski, a CPA by training, started working at the Webster-based contract manufacturing company in 2000, first as chief financial officer. Five years later, he was named president.
 
The firm employs 70 people and serves companies in aerospace, medical, commercial and military markets. Its customers include ITT Corp., Xerox Corp., L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. and the U.S. Army.
 
Ozminkowski, 55, says running the company is a change from working in accounting.
 
"It definitely is a different dynamic," he says. "The people here are talented craftsmen who make parts that still amaze me."
 
Ozminkowski grew up in Irondequoit and attended Bishop Kearney High School. He attended Rochester Institute of Technology and received his bachelor's degree in accounting in 1979.
 
After college, he spent 22 years at the local public accounting firm of Brophy Dailey & Incardona LLP before joining VI Manufacturing. But Ozminkowski was no stranger to VI Manufacturing, which was one of the firm's clients.
 
Frank Chamberlain bought the firm-previously Webster Tool and Die Inc.-in 1989. He changed the name to Webster Tool, Die & Manufacturing Co. and worked on diversifying the business. The name became VI Manufacturing-for vertically integrated manufacturing-in 2000.
 
Over the past 20 years, the company's customer base has expanded geographically. At one time, roughly half of its customers were in the Rochester area. Today clients are all over the United States and in other parts of the world, such as Europe.
 
When Chamberlain semi-retired in 2005, Ozminkowski was named president.
 
When he joined VI Manufacturing, Ozminkowski said the intention was to take ownership of the business someday from Chamberlain with Vice President Tom Williams. That is still the plan, he says.
 
The company continues to grow, Ozminkowski says. He declines to disclose sales but says he expects a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in sales this year. VI Manufacturing recently added a third shift to accommodate a customer.
 
To encourage growth, he says, the company has beefed up its outside sales force and increased internal sales efforts as well.
 
Ozminkowski focuses on customer satisfaction, traveling to customer sites and having them visit the shop regularly.
 
"I like to have them come here and show them what we can do," he says. "Then they can see our capabilities and are happy with what we can do. That drives new work."
 
The face time is also important, he says: "Customers like to see the faces of the people who are solving their problems. They know we aren't some face behind the curtain."
 
Happy customers can lead to work in different places, Ozminkowski says. For example, individuals who have done business with VI Manufacturing at one company might remember the firm when they move to another business.
 
"We want them to remember us and refer us," he says.

Solid foundation
Ozminkowski begins his day at the office around 7 a.m. and works until 5:30 p.m. His office is decorated with baseball memorabilia and family pictures, including one of his late parents, Alfred and Marge Ozminkowski.
 
"They taught me values and are the foundation of my existence," he says.
 
He speaks proudly of his 5-foot-tall mother's time as a member of the Filarets, a women's basketball team in Rochester that played in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
 
Ozminkowski also calls his father a role model.
 
"He worked hard and got seven kids through college in an era when times were tough," he says.
 
The elder Ozminkowski decided to stay in this area and start his own company when the company where he was working announced that it would move its local operation to California.
 
"He faced some struggles but never said how difficult things were," Ozminkowski says.
 
Chamberlain is another role model for Ozminkowski: "He took this company to the next level, and he knew how to make money. He taught me a lot of things."
 
Ozminkowski says there is no typical day on the job, and he likes it that way.
 
"Every day is different; you never know what you will walk into," he says. "The variety is what keeps it interesting."
 
He also enjoys the satisfaction of a job well done.
 
"It's very satisfying to solve a customer's problem," Ozminkowski says.
 
What he likes least about the job is seeing bad things happen to good people. Three of VI Manufacturing's employees have died over the past few years, and serving as the leader of a company during tragedies is a hard job, he says.
 
"We have great, talented people here, many who have spent their whole careers here," he says.
 
Ozminkowski describes his management style as somewhat easygoing.
 
"I'm patient to a point," he says.
 
He is also trusting.
 
"I was taught your word is all you have," he says. "I'm generally trusting and take people at their word."
 
To ensure that trust is not misplaced, Ozminkowski makes an effort to surround himself with people who are team players. They are people who want to work hard and enjoy success, he says.
 
"If you are here just punching a time clock and have a poor work ethic, you won't be here for long," he says.
 
Ozminkowski relies on a strong, talented workforce for the business to prosper.
 
Williams, for example, is a good fit with Ozminkowski because the two bring different strengths to the business. While Ozminkowski focuses on financial matters, Williams focuses his attention on the technical side of the business.
 
Williams, who has known Ozminkowski perhaps 25 years, speaks of his honesty and fairness.
 
"He looks at every situation with an open mind," Williams says, adding that while Ozminkowski is a quick thinker, he does not make snap judgments. "He looks out for his employees, as well as the company."

Baseball fan
Ozminkowski lives in Penfield and is engaged to Phyllis Miller. He has three adult children: Philip, 33, Matt, 23, and Lisa, 21.
 
When not working, Ozminkowski enjoys spending time with his family, playing with his dogs-a chocolate Lab and Havanese-as well as golfing and reading, particularly historical non-fiction and works by Ayn Rand, best known for "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."
 
He is also a baseball fan and has been a member of the Rochester Red Wings board of directors since 1984. His favorite teams include the Cincinnati Reds, which he has liked since it was dubbed the Big Red Machine due to its dominant run in the 1970s.
 
He is also a fan of the Baltimore Orioles-partly because of former Oriole, Red Wing and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., whom Ozminkowski has met-and the Minnesota Twins, major league affiliate of the Red Wings.
 
Naomi Silver, Rochester Red Wings chairman and chief operating officer, first became acquainted with Ozminkowski when he joined the Red Wings board. He has been an asset to the organization, she says.
 
"Paul is one of those people who is really very dedicated," Silver says. "When he is involved with something, he sees it through."
 
Silver also described Ozminkowski as an easygoing person who takes into account other people's opinions when working on an issue.
 
"Everyone loves working with Paul," Silver says.
 
Ozminkowski views everything-from leading the company to serving in the community-as a learning experience.
 
"I've seen my share of successes and failures and have learned from both," he says.

Paul Ozminkowski
Position: President, VI Manufacturing Inc.
Age: 55
Education: B.S. in accounting, Rochester Institute of Technology, 1979
Family: Fiancee Phyllis Miller; children Philip, 33, Matt, 23, and Lisa, 21
Residence: Penfield
Activities: Golfing, reading, watching baseball
Quote: (On going from working as an accountant to running a manufacturing company) "It definitely is a different dynamic. The people here are talented craftsmen who make parts that still amaze me."

5/24/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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