Former UniFirst President/CEO Earns Uniform Industry’s Highest Honor
Ronald D. Croatti, former chairman, president, and CEO of UniFirst Corporation, will receive the TRSA’s (Textile Rental Services Association) 2017 Operator Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual conference in Miami on Sept. 12–14. The award, which recognizes exceptional personal service to the uniform, linen, and facility services industry, as well as the TRSA, is the association’s highest honor bestowed upon an industry professional. The TRSA is an international organization representing textile industry companies.
Croatti passed away on May 23 at age 74 following an illness. He first joined UniFirst in 1965 under the tutelage of his father and company founder, Aldo Croatti, gaining valuable, firsthand experience working in virtually all areas of the company, excelling in service, sales, operations, and management before being named senior executive in 1986. After becoming the company’s CEO in 1991, he quintupled the company’s earnings from $100 million to $1.6 billion in 2017. Croatti has been praised as a visionary business leader who helped shape the uniform and facility services industry into what it is today.
“I am thrilled and honored that TRSA would recognize our former company leader and my brother Ron with this most prestigious industry accolade,” said UniFirst executive vice president Cynthia Croatti. “He was a true business leader who made such important contributions to the uniform industry over the span of his esteemed 52-year career, positioning UniFirst as a top market leader throughout North America.”
Croatti was long active in TRSA and UTSA (Uniform and Textile Service Association), which was blended into TRSA in 2008. Among other volunteer work he did for the latter association, Croatti formerly chaired the UTSA marketing committee and served on the UTSA board of directors from 1997–2000.
TRSA president and CEO Joseph Ricci recalled Croatti as a proactive executive who was in his element in any industry setting. “Ron lived and breathed UniFirst and the uniform rental industry,” Ricci said. “He was always ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work, whether on the laundry floor, on a route, in a board or committee. He looked more comfortable among his coworkers on ‘Undercover Boss’ than in a suit.”
Croatti and UniFirst were also regularly recognized in the media over the years. He was named Executive of the Year by the Best in Biz Awards and, as Mr. Ricci alluded to, was featured on CBS-TV’s hit reality show “Undercover Boss.” Other honors include:
• Forbes magazine included UniFirst on its “Platinum 400-Best Companies in America” list.
• Apparel magazine listed UniFirst as one of “America's Top 50 Apparel Companies” for 10 consecutive years.
• Selling Power magazine named UniFirst on its “Top 50 Best Companies to Sell For” list every year since 2003.
• The Boston Globe recognized UniFirst on its “Globe 100” list for the past 28 years.
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