Personal Resume of Ralph Paonessa
I am looking for a challenging marketing/sales/executive position in a dynamic company vertically integrated in the direct view LED video display marketplace. The perfect compatibility with my interests would be a publically traded company, either in LED display manufacturing or distribution with a burning desire to succeed in this industry with an eye towards further development of the technology. The direct view LED display industry is set to breakthrough into the much larger display industry. As the as the pixel densities go up and the pricing continues to go down, more and more applications for the products are evolving. I would like to put my many years of experience in this industry to use to help your company really capitalize on this market shift away from LCD, DLP and other video walls towards the seamless perfect of direct view LED displays.
CEO, TransTech America May, 2019 – October 2019
Hired on to open the USA market to TransTech’s products. I was creating a program to sell & rent 6' high displays to retail locations to place as free standing kiosks or hung in a window facing outside. These standard products have a lifetime of over 10 year so they are a perfect product to rent for the long or short term. Our efforts got cancelled in light of the 25% Trump Tax on Chinese imports, lack of funding of the Chinese parent company as well as a glut of LED display manufacturers in the USA market.
Vice President Sales for USA, AOTO Electronics September, 2015 – April, 2019
Hired on to open the USA market to AOTO’s products. Company had no distribution in the USA other than sales to a few end users. They did not want to invest in marketing, advertising, end user trade shows and public relations to build up their brand in the market. I developed NEC as our distribution arm in the United States. Under this arrangement, NEC started doing the marketing, sales and distribution of the product in the USA. Once NEC was up and running, they made it a house account it was taken away from me and given to a Chinese Project Manager. Within 3 months the account was lost to a competitor. I was also successful in getting the company into projects for the Star Wars rides that just opened in the Florida and California parks and TV studios.
Vice President Sales, SiliconCore Technology May, 2012 – August, 2015
I was hired originally as a sales consultant to help open up the USA market for the new very high-resolution LED direct view displays. I was hired full time as the Vice President of Sales within 30 days as I proved that I had the experience and the passion required to open the USA market to this brand-new product. Sold the 1st units of the company’s products into the broadcast, corporate boardroom, control room, casino, retail store and other targeted markets that had a need for these extremely high quality, high performance display products.
Push+Pull Strategy - Worked with end users and designers to create demand for the product and worked with sales representatives and integrators/dealers to create channels to get the products to the customers. Became the top Sales Person in 2014 worldwide by having a can-do attitude and understanding how to serve customers, tripling sales volume from 2013 to 2014.
Sabbatical 2009 – 2012
Motorcycle trip throughout Eastern USA, hiking in Costa Rica, golfing in North Carolina, safari in South Africa, skiing in Park City, Utah, diving in the FLA Keys, reduced golf handicap by 6 strokes. Really enjoyed taking the break in my career.
CEO and Chairman, Hi-Tech Electronic Displays 1998 – 2009
Took the company from 8 million a year to more than $26 million in sales exploiting the significant advancements in LED technology and connectivity of the displays over the Internet. We developed innovative features that helped our products stand out over others in the marketplace. Some things we did were: changing electronic sign messages by sending an email to the display; object linking and embedding of MS Office data into messages on the displays; Pixel on a Rope technology that allowed pixels to be placed anywhere, and in any shape; along with the continuing efforts to improve the resolution of the video displays for viewing from closer distances.
Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Engineering, Hi-Tech Electronic Displays 1984 – 1998
Grew a sales and marketing team of one person (myself) into 16 full time sales people selling and marketing promoting the company’s products all over the world. We took sales in an entirely new product category from $0 to over $8,000,000 annually. The company designed, manufactured and marketed LED display screens to businesses and government institutions all over the USA and internationally. Our team designed the first full matrix LED displays in the USA, developed the software to run the displays, the firmware to turn a Z-80 CPU into perfect electronic sign brain and an operating system called Sign Language run on personal computers that allowed users to create and schedule messages to view on the LED displays. Oversaw the development of communications to the displays over telephone modems and digital pagers. Our proprietary WinPlay software was an MS DOS program that we wrote to give our users a graphical user interface for creating messages and graphics for the displays. Later, as the Internet evolved, we built ways to link changing Internet content like the weather report into the messages on the displays so that they would change along with the updates without the need for an operator to do the changes every day. We also developed our HXII video interface and control system that used the DVi port instead of adding a board into the PC to grab the video data.
Regional Sales Representative, Knauf Fiber Glass 1982 - 1984
Hired directly out of school and joined the company 1 week after graduating from college. Sold fiberglass insulation products made by the company to large contractors and distributors in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. Opened new OEM clients and channels of distribution. Grew territory sales from $700,000 to $1,700,000 in just 18 months. Was named Metal Building Insulation Specialist for the Southeastern US. Was the 2nd fastest growing region in the company and #1 for the Southeast Region.
Bachelor of Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida Spring 1982
Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Marketing. Extensive studies of marketing, sales, accounting and public relations. Took a full course load and graduated in less than 4 years.
Sold books door-to-door for the Southwestern Company during college summers to help pay for my education. Learned how to deliver an organized, effective sales presentation, persisting in the face of rejection and overcoming objections while serving the needs of growing young families trying to educate their children. Finished as a member of the President’s Club placing in the top 5% of sales people nationwide.
Restaurant Jobs from the time I was 13 years old until I graduated from college, I worked part-time during school and full time during vacations in various restaurants in the Clearwater, FL area. I was employed as a dishwasher, prep cook, busboy, janitor and eventually was employed as a tableside waiter in a fine dining, beachfront restaurant. My duties included cooking tableside, flaming coffees, wine sales and working large banquets. I learned a lot about how to become conversational with strangers, handle problems to the customer’s satisfaction without wasting too much money/time in the process.
Extensive technical background including working on many dozens of software and hardware project design/development teams. Worked directly with mechanical, software, firmware and hardware engineers on designing and developing sometimes completely custom products to meet contractual requirements and customer’s expectations. Systems we developed sold from as little as a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. With the case of our Order Confirmation Displays for McDonalds drive thru lanes, we designed manufactured and sold approximately 11,000 units over 9 years with a revenue of over $25 million. Sold over 2,300 outdoor message center displays to Walgreens drug store locations in the Eastern USA for over $40 million and did the $2+ million Video Earth Globe for Disney’s EPCOT Center for the Millennium beginning in September 1999 and is still in operation today. Proven program management and sales performer with a winning record across wholesale and retail customers. I usually work as a consultant with my clients offering candid advice to get the best solution for the application.
Good Problem solving capabilities. Can work under pressure while keeping a positive attitude. Experienced in sourcing products from China having traveled extensively around the major manufacturing hubs in Asia.
Extensive knowledge of the sign, display, construction, broadcasting, chain store, quick service restaurants, and point of purchase industries.
Proficient in Windows, MAC OSX, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, After Effects, Outlook, Keynote, many brands of LED Controller Systems (Linsen, NovaStar, ZDEC, ColorLight), Numbers, Internet Explorer, various CRM programs including Salesforce.com, smart phones, tablets. Designed advertisements, brochures, websites, proposals, and complex spreadsheet price models with extensive macros. Evaluated alternatives and oversaw the implementation of MRP systems over multiple years.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to grow incrementally along with the electronics and software industries, along the way, I have developed a comprehensive understanding of electronics, software and computer hardware development. While I am not capable of designing a schematic or laying out a PCB, programming a microprocessor, designing a CPLD or FPGA, I am very knowledgeable about how these various disciplines work together to achieve the desired capabilities of today’s intelligently integrated product. Over the years, I invented (with the help of a great team) many of the features that are now taken for granted across the display industry. By working with a staff of very talented engineers we were able to create printed circuit boards, bills of materials, mechanical designs, firmware and even the software to create the content on elaborate display systems. Over the years, I have had great relationships with important customers like Disney, Motorola, Delta Airlines, McDonalds, ESPN, Chicago METRA Rail, Fox Networks, Steve Harvey Show, NASA, Walgreens and many others.
Golf, Tennis, all aspects of Photography, Video Editing, Travelling, Computer Games, Skiing, and learning about all kinds of technology.
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 3, 1999
Company meets global challenge
Hi-Tech Electronic Displays of Clearwater created a giant globe of the Earth that acts as the finale in "IllumiNations2000: Reflections of Earth" at Epcot Center. The globe spins as images roll across the continents, skipping oceans. In the end, it opens like a flower, with a flame in the center. A competitor said the project was "technologically impossible", but Hi-Tech Electronic Displays delivered the world, in the form of a 28-foot globe, to Disney on time. When a customer asks for the world, Chip Paonessa says Hi-Tech Electronic Displays can deliver. Especially when the customer is Walt Disney Co. and the world is a 28-foot globe that is the center-piece of the millennium celebration at Epcot Center. Hi-Tech spent a year and a half designing and building the globe, which has 5 miles of cable hooked up to LED lights. The land areas on the globe broadcast images as clear as those on a television screen, flowing from one continent to another, skipping oceans. Although the surface is round, the images are undistorted. The globe is at the center of the nightly millennium display at Epcot that was officially unveiled last week. It floats to the middle of a large lake on a barge and is surrounded by fireworks and flames so intense that visitors ringing the lake can feel the heat. The globe had to be built to withstand vibration, motion, fire displays, fireworks, rain and moisture. It had to use very little power because it had to be housed on a barge and operated by a generator. It also had to spin and open up like a flower at the end of the show, with a huge flame in the center. Night after night. For 11 years. The globe, which Hi-Tech designed, built and wrote software for, is expected to be on display at Epcot until 2010. One of Hi-Tech's competitors wrote Disney a letter saying the project couldn't be done, that it was technologically impossible. Paonessa, the 39 year old president of Hi-Tech, wants to get a copy of that letter and put it next to a photograph of the globe. Bob Rose, vice president of operations, said Paonessa tends to tell customers the company can do anything and then looks to his staff to find a way. "We accuse Chip of being the little dog in the back of the car with the head bobbing -'We can do that'", Rose said. Hi-Tech, which had done smaller projects for Disney, was included in what Paonessa called a "shoot-out" to pick a company to build the globe. Representatives of six companies met on an abandoned airstrip of Disney property in the middle of the night and showed Disney engineers what they could do. Hi-Tech won the bid with its "can-do" attitude and its ability to be flexible. Paonessa said. Being within easy driving distance of Disney World also didn't hurt, he said. Disney spokesman Craig Dezern said Disney is very happy with Hi-Tech's work. "The Earth Globe is an integral, really exciting part" of the millennium celebration, Dezern said. Chris Plonsky, the director of engineering at Hi-Tech, said the company had about 60 workers dedicated to the globe project for months and that Disney had as many as 25 people helping out during the construction. Plonsky said most of the work was done at night, since that's when the park is closed and when the light is best for seeing the LED lights. He said his office was outdoors, a grassy knoll that turned into dirt and then mud before Disney installed an air-conditioned trailer -a couple of weeks before the project was finished. Many Hi-Tech workers spent quite a few sleepless nights, working as long as 27 hours straight, to get the globe finished on time. That was in addition to what Plonsky called "our day job", doing other projects for Hi-Tech. For the project, the company designed a new method to install LED lights, which it calls "pixel on a rope", with the LED lights attached to cables instead of attached to boards. That allowed for the round shape of the globe and slack for the globe to open up into petals at the end of the 12-minute show. Hi-Tech engineers came up with a design that prevents the images from being distorted, even though they're on a curved surface, and makes the images flow seamlessly from one continent to another. Another company filmed the video that is shown on the globe using Hi-Tech's software. The globe, which spins as it moves from the edge to the center of the lake, starts out red to depict lava, then turns blue to depict water and green to depict the development of forests. Set to music and fireworks, the 12-minute show moves through the development of mankind, including images of animals, boats, famous people, well-known landmarks, orchestra and people dancing. Paonessa, whose full name is Ralph J. Paonessa II, declined to say how much the globe cost. He said it was part of a "multimillion dollar extravaganza that Disney is putting on for the millennium." The private company, which is on an access road beside U.S. 19 in the Clearwater area, has made electronic signs for customers worldwide for 15 years. It has 135 employees and does about $15-million in business annually.
Earlier this year, Hi-Tech installed signs outside the stadium at Chicago's Wrigley Field and signs that broadcast the type and speed of each pitch at New York's Shea Stadium. By the end of the year, it plans to install a 20-by 20-foot video billboard in Times Square in New York for Delta Airlines, which an ad agency will be able to change instantly via the internet. Hi-Tech is installing a similar, changeable billboard in Royal Oak, Mich., outside of Detroit. Hi-Tech also is the sole producer of LED order confirmation screens being installed in McDonald's drive-thru windows worldwide. The company has even set up video screens for big events viewed by millions of people in recent years, such as the Pope's visit to Brazil and the World Cup Soccer tournament, which was played in France, but broadcast in Brazil. But unlike temporary events, the globe will be seen by about 40,000 people each night for 11 years. Disney's goal was to create something that visitors would remember forever. For Hi-Tech, it was something of a litmus test. It proves "we can do just about anything," Paonessa said.
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