“Our community has been with us for 70 years.”
Jim Stitt ’71 reinforced the importance of community in a business enterprise when he met Oct. 3 with sophomore students in the entrepreneurship experience courses.
“For a public company, your main goal is to increase your stakeholder value,” said Stitt, CEO and chairman of the Cutco Corp. “Being private, that’s not our goal. Our goal is to increase the value of employees, customers and community.”
Stitt visited campus with his wife, Carol, as the 2019 Business as a Calling resident scholar. The day before, he gave a public lecture on leadership with integrity. Stitt has been with the company based in Olean, New York, for 45 years.
Stitt spoke about the importance of putting people first. Building trust, being genuine and maintaining a consistent management team are just a few of the strategies he said have helped the Cutco Corp. grow to what it is today.
He also talked about the giving spirit instilled in him at UD.
“[W]hat do you do with the profit?” said Stitt. “Some of it you need to build equity in the company, but some of it you have to give away. It’s not just how many cool things can I buy for myself, it’s what can I do for other people.”
Among the organizations they support is the University of Dayton, with the founding of the Altha P. and John F. Stitt Scholarship for entrepreneurship and engineering students, in honor of Jim’s parents. The scholarship is also supported by more than 25 other donors.
“I learned a lot of values from my father growing up in a small plumbing and heating business,” Stitt told the students. “I learned a lot of values here. … In the long term, that’s what’s going to play out for your benefit.”
Since receiving his degree in mechanical engineering technology from UD, Stitt said he has embraced opportunities in business and applied the model of lifelong learning in acquiring the skills needed to be successful.
When a student asked Stitt if he would do anything differently, Stitt replied that he would not, recalling how blessed he feels to be where he is today. And he encouraged students to embrace their experiences similarly.
“Learn. Be a sponge wherever you go. The education process does not end when you graduate. You’re not going to win every time but failure breeds success. A lot of people say, ‘I can’t fail.’ … You fix it then you go forward and make it better.”