Tim Slattery ’74 describes his philosophy on work and life as, “Work hard…then work a little harder…work a little harder still…then play hard.” From his earliest days, this seems to be how he has lived his life. Always looking for ways to get ahead, Slattery did not shy away from hard work – he worked three jobs as a college student. But, having put in the work, he now enjoys the fruits of his labor.
Slattery grew up in Gates Mills, Ohio, one of 10 children. All six Slattery boys and two of the Slattery girls attended either Glen Oak or Gilmour. Tim graduated from Gilmour in 1974. While at Gilmour, he recalls working in the school’s greenhouse with Br. Adrian and enjoying Mr. Weber’s history classes. As a football, basketball and track athlete, he was also the beneficiary of Mr. Weber’s counsel on the athletic fields. He remembers the plaque in Mr. Weber’s office that read, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
After graduating from the Academy, Slattery and his best friend, Gary Bozza ’74, attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. (All 10 Slattery siblings attended Miami!) Slattery’s drive to succeed was evident from his first days on campus as he had already landed a job before the first day of classes. He was hired to do clean-up work at a local bar, The King of Clubs, on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. This popular watering hole saw a packed house every night and the clean-up the next morning was less than glamorous. Nevertheless, Slattery was always there, ready to work and kept the job through all four years at Miami. By his junior year, he was bartending there at night as well, while still cleaning in the morning and attending classes in the afternoon.
It was through one of Slattery’s business classes that year that he picked up his third job, which became his own business. For his class, he was asked to identify a local business and craft an advertising campaign for it. Naturally, he chose the King of Clubs and when he presented to the owner his marketing plan that included radio spots, newspaper ads and the distribution of flyers, the owner offered to pay him to implement the plan weekly.
Slattery jumped at the chance and the first of the three businesses he would run or help run over the course of his career was born. He divided the campus and surrounding area into sections and hired friends to distribute flyers each week. He recorded radio spots and created newspaper ads. He quickly realized he could do this for more than one business at a time and began contacting other businesses around Miami’s campus, convincing them to let him help them with their marketing efforts. Slattery says that the confidence he gained getting his business up and running and making those cold calls proved invaluable to him in future business dealings.
He ran his business until he graduated in 1978 and then moved to Lake George, where his whole family lived and worked for the summers. He set
to work helping run the family’s two Dairy Queen-Brazier locations before heading to Europe to travel by himself for six months that winter. Gary Bozza was supposed to travel with him, but ended up taking a job offer instead. Slattery says that when the two get together and start telling old stories, Bozza always asks him, “Slatts, why didn’t you insist that I come to Europe with you instead of taking that job?”
After returning from Europe, Slattery worked for the family business again before being convinced by his brother and his brother’s business partner to work for them in Cincinnati. The company they had started was Valpak and Slattery ended up a partner. Over the next 17 years, the partners built Valpak into a large business, acquiring other cities for the franchise including Pittsburgh, Toledo, Louisville, Lexington and Indianapolis. During those early years in Cincinnati, Slattery met his wife, Eva, at a pool party at their apartment complex. They eventually married and had three children: Megan, now 26, T.J., now 24 and Keegan, now 22. In 1997, when the kids were about 12, 10 and 8, Slattery was approached by a business colleague who wanted him to partner with him in his window manufacturing company and build a factory somewhere in the West to help grow the business. The couple weighed the decision for about six months before deciding to move the family to Denver to pursue this opportunity with Champion Windows.
Slattery invested equally with his partner and built the factory in Denver. The next 10 years, from 1997-2007, were filled with long hours and much travel as he grew 13 offices for Champion in 13 different cities in the West. In addition to overseeing the factory operations, Slattery was managing the local Denver sales and installation departments (which eventually did the highest volume in the country) and managing the other 1 2 locations.
All the hard work paid off when the partners sold the company to a private equity firm in 2007. Slattery worked for an additional year and a half before retiring at the age of 52.
Since retiring, Slattery and his wife Eva divide their time between their 280-acre ranch in Lyons, Colo., their home in Denver and their condo in Vail, Colo. While at the ranch, Slattery will usually begin his day by feeding the horses and doing work around the property after which he will do the “fun stuff” as he describes his hobbies of hiking, clay shooting and riding horses. When at their Denver residence, Slattery enjoys bike riding, exercising, motorcycle riding, golfing and socializing with the couple’s friends. They spend most of the winter skiing in Vail.
When not at one of these three fabulous locales, the Slatterys travel. This past year, they visited New Orleans; spent two weeks in Florida; a week in New York City and Cincinnati; a week in Lake George, N Y.; three weeks at a villa in Tuscany; and, most recently, two weeks in Zambia, Africa.
Slattery certainly mastered the “work hard” portion of his life philosophy and now seems to be enjoying the well-deserved “play hard” component.