“Find something you like to do. Find a job you have a passion for that is more than a paycheck,” L. Jack Ruscilli, Class of 1966, advised during a recent visit to campus. He shared his business experience with students as a Visiting Executive in the College of Business on April 15, 2013.
During the day, Ruscilli spoke in classes, met with students and delivered a community lecture on the history of Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. and the important life lessons he learned.
The son of a World War II veteran who founded the family construction business, Ruscilli recalled that his father would give him the nastiest jobs, saying, “This will teach you to go to college and get an education.” Consequently, Ruscilli never intended to work in the family business.
But, after he graduated from Findlay College with a degree in business administration and marketing, he turned down lucrative offers from big companies to take an entry-level sales position with Ruscilli Construction Inc.
“My Findlay College liberal arts degree armed me better than anything I could have gotten,” he said. “Accounting, advertising and sales – those were the things that really made the difference in growing the company.”
Ruscilli went on to create the “design/build” concept, a one-stop process of architectural design, construction and real estate services. His talents as business manager, visionary and entrepreneur moved the company from a small contractor to one of the Midwest’s largest full-service construction firms. He advanced to president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board.
His work was recognized. He was inducted into the Young Presidents Organization, and later, the World Presidents Organization. He is a past president of the Central Ohio Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors and a past director of the National Associated Builders and Contractors. He was named Central Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year in 1990 by Ernst & Young, was the inaugural winner of the Central Ohio Business Ethics Award in 2003 and was awarded the 2012 NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association Lifetime Achievement Award, among others.
Added to his busy career, Ruscilli and his wife, Ann (Colburn ’65), both took on roles as volunteers, civic leaders and philanthropists. They have served on multiple boards, held officer positions and sponsored or chaired more than 100 fund-raising events. Among their many involvements, they have been active with the James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University, the Central Ohio Arthritis Foundation, the Central Ohio Diabetes Association, Easter Seals of Central and Southeast Ohio, the National Kidney Foundation and Catholic charities such as Legatus and Syntaxis.
In addition, they have supported the arts, such as the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus Symphony, Columbus Opera, Columbus Zoo, the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) and the Mazza Museum. They also helped found the Wellington School in Columbus, where Jack is a trustee emeritus.
In preparing for his day as Visiting Executive, Ruscilli compiled a document of lessons learned throughout his life. In it he shared, “To me, success is not how high you climb the corporate ladder or how much money you made; but how many people you helped along the way to make their lives more successful; not just in monetary, but spiritual terms, as well.”
For their accomplishments and service, the Ruscillis were named Distinguished Alumni at The University of Findlay in 1996. Jack also assisted with the design, funding and construction of the Ralph and Gladys Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex in 1999, and they established the Ann and L. Jack Ruscilli Football Scholarship.
As an alumnus, Ruscilli served his alma mater on the UF Board of Trustees for the past 27 years, and was named a trustee emeritus on April 19. He also was recognized during the undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 4 with an honorary doctor of entrepreneurial business development.
The couple met when she was working a part-time job at the Northside Pharmacy, which was located on the northeast corner of Center Street and Main Street, and he came in to get change to do his laundry. They caught each other’s interest, she said, and perhaps, fate had a hand in their meeting.
A Findlay native, Ann commuted to classes, but also found time to be involved on campus. She was a member of Sigma Kappa sorority, which sponsored many campus events. A highlight of their college years was in 1964 when Ann was named May Day queen and Jack was her escort. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. They both cherish the friends they made at Findlay, relationships they still maintain.
Nearly 50 years later, Jack said that he is most proud of their family. They have four children, Suzanne Ruscilli-Bowen, Lisa Tzagournis, Gina Hudson and Louis Ruscilli, and nine grandchildren. And, he has fulfilled his lifelong dream of passing the family business into the hands of his son, Louis, who is the CEO, and his nephew, Tony Ruscilli, who serves as president.
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