Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael J. Manzione.
Michael, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After graduating from college, I worked for a subsidiary of Manufacturers Hanover Bank, but soon found I wasn’t enjoying the work. I moved to Clearwater, Florida to help my sister open her restaurant and became interested in both food and being my own boss. The single restaurant concept didn’t fully challenge me, so I joined Wendy’s International to apply my management skills with the restaurant industry. After fourteen years in Operations, Training and Management, I had the opportunity to become a franchisee and follow my dream of being an entrepreneur. After thirteen years of running multiple concepts, I switched gears to try a new challenge and sold the restaurants. In 2008, I had the opportunity to help an acquaintance turn around a fledgling 3Pl in Denver, Colorado. Following a successful four year turn-around, the company was sold to Newgistics. I greatly enjoyed the eCommerce space and continued on that path in Atlanta to run a couple of companies before landing with Rakuten in 2014.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think part of the journey is to embrace challenges, adapt and explore new possibilities. My path has been one of “always believing that I could overcome anything that was thrown at me”. My father taught me a valuable lesson when I was young. I was a teenager when I got my first part-time job, helping close a restaurant down on Friday and Saturday nights. My father asked me what I was doing at the restaurant… I told him, “Cleaning tables, chairs, dining area, bathrooms and mopping floors”. His only comment was, “If you’re mopping the floor– make sure it’s so clean, that they know you did it!” My father passed away a few years later, too early in life, but it’s a lesson I’ve carried with me: All jobs have meaning and take pride in the work that you do! At every turn, we are all presented with obstacles that we must navigate—most we fail, which allows us to appreciate even more the ones that we succeed in.
Another key lesson learned early in life was when I was injured and lost my soccer scholarship- I had no means to support myself and would not be able to return to college for my sophomore year. I took a year off from school and went to work for a great family owned business. I was trying to find a way to return to school and support myself when an opportunity presented itself. The company had both a large warehouse and office space and was unhappy with the janitorial services being provided. I presented a plan to the owner that I would assume those responsibilities by working at night and on weekends so that I could return to school. My first business, M&M Janitorial Services, taught me that obstacles are temporary and that we can find the solutions by finding new paths in life.
These lessons are part of the foundation that brought me to Rakuten, a company that is not well known in the U.S., but aligns with our American values of hard work, innovative thinking and entrepreneurship.
Rakuten Super Logistics – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At the core, Rakuten Super Logistics, or RSL, is an order fulfillment company for online businesses. We specialize in the pick, pack and ship of business to consumer eCommerce. In the 15+ years we’ve been in business, we’ve grown into a team of nearly 200 employees in 10 locations, yet we’ve managed to keep the “small business” touch that is reflected through the personal relationships we’ve developed with our clients. I love the spirit of the people we support. Each has a unique story. Each is overcoming obstacles every day. Each has a passion that inspires us to work hard to support them. Unlike Amazon, Rakuten empowers the merchant and never competes with them. We are on a mission of empowerment and the merchant owns the customer relationship. In an evolving economy where we are seeing more and more small and mid-sized business owners pressured by industry giants, we want to provide the resources and support to allow them to compete and keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
By far the proudest moment for me personally, and as a team, is seeing the great impact we are able to make for our clients. Most people don’t realize how much happens between the time you place an order online, to the time it shows up on your doorstep—and we come across a lot of “one-man shows” or husband and wife duos who are doing it all themselves! These people have invested some of their best years growing and nurturing an online business, often times out of their garage, investing every last dollar and every last hour into building a business that becomes their life. We take great pride in the trust that is given to us with every new client. For me, there is no greater satisfaction or prouder moment than seeing their business grow, while giving them their life back. Working with RSL has allowed our clients to focus on other things in life, spend more time with their families, and go on their first vacation in years! These moments make all the “behind the scenes” work we do, entirely worth it.
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