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Lapi to be inducted into JA Business Hall of Fame

By Staff | Apr 15, 2011

Seen here at the opening of Blind Pass in January 2010, Tony Lapi has been a part of the 'Tween Waters Inn staff for 35 years.

Consistency.

That is what Tony Lapi says anyone in business should practice and look for in hiring and retaining employees.

His consistency is what may have landed him induction into the prestigious Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida Business Hall of Fame for Lee County.

Lapi, president and chief executive officer of Rochester Resorts Inc./’Tween Waters Inn on Captiva, will join Dr. Daniel Dosoretz, president and CEO of Radiation Therapy Services Inc./21st Century Oncology as the newest inductees at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20 at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Estero.

“The prestigious award recognizes prominent business leaders who are outstanding entrepreneurs and serve as role models for youth through their professional accomplishments and commitment to the community,” according to a press release provided by Junior Achievement.

Lapi, who holds a bacteriology degree from Syracuse University, graduated from Manlius Military Academy in Syracuse, N.Y. back in 1965.

He hasn’t always been at ‘Tween Waters. When he lived in New York, he owned his own landscaping and snow plow business, and was a teacher, “for a year. I like teaching,” he said. “But I realized it was set up for less control.”

He’s been at ‘Tween Waters for 35 years, nearly all of his married life. He’s been married to Angie Lapi for 38 years plus, he said.

His hobbies include gardening, golf, walking, and what else, but work?

“I’m kind of a weed eliminator and trimming fool,” he said. He awakens early each day and recently was out trimming bushes prior to starting his day at ‘Tween Waters.

Little did he know that his passion for work would lead to him being nominated, let alone inducted, into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame.

He found out one day recently while at his annual meeting at ‘Tween Waters with his employees.

“Ambushed,” he said of the way he found out. During the meeting, a 20-year employee and general manager Jeff Schuff, approached.

“My GM said: ‘Tony, wait a minute. We have a little interruption.’ About five people came in and said ‘Do you accept?'”

Of course he did, adding he was humbled by the honor.

Being inducted is more than just showing up to the event.

“They lead you through the things you have to do… and help you,” Lapi said.

Each inductee has to write a speech and have it reviewed, chose three people to write a testimonial about the inductee, and his wife had to put together a “this is your life” type of photographic display.

“It’s pretty overwhelming,” he added.

One of the testimonial writers is a 30-plus year employee, Holly Monroe.

Lapi first learned of Junior Achievement about five or six years ago. He was always asked to go to the ball, but because of previous commitments, he couldn’t. He did, though, always buy tickets to it. Attending military school, he never heard of Junior Achievement.

He appreciates there is an organization out there to help youngster learn about business.

“I think it’s a very important thing because when I was growing up you didn’t have that type of training,” he said. “You never really talked about business or work. I figured my own way.”

“Junior Achievement is a partnership between the business community, educators and volunteers — all working together to inspire young people to dream big and reach their potential”, according to the organization’s website. “JA’s hands-on, experiential programs teach the key concepts of work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy to young people all over the world.”

What Lapi wants students to know, consistency is a primary need in any working relationship and the boss must set the example.

“Don’t judge who is first out of the gate,” Lapi said. “You look for that employee to give you the same bounce” as a ball does when it is thrown against a wall time after time. “You look for the employee who comes to work on time or before time with a good attitude. That’s what makes you stand out.

“I try to reflect back to them the same thing,” he said. “They are going to get the same bounce out of me each time.

Junior Achievement looks for people who have been successful in business, have an entrepreneurial spirit and who give back to the community for the inductee.

“I’ve always been a contributor and giver of my time on the island and United Way, the community as a whole,” Lapi said.

But “we’re not out there looking for awards,” he said. “We’re just out doing… stuff. I’m very honored and humbled.”