THIS MONTH'S BULLS EYE FEATURE: David Antrilli
Forty-four year old David Antrilli loves music—everything from 60s to grunge, but his greatest passion in life is to be a father, “although I don’t think that’s a surprise to a lot of people,” the father of three daughters—Angela, Santia and Gianna—notes.
The proud owner of a CD collection that tops the 1,000 mark, Antrilli also goes to as many as 20 concerts a year.
An AAA lifer with almost a quarter century at the organization and the South Jersey CEO with responsibility for 170 employees since January, Antrilli likes to say that he has “been with AAA South Jersey for a very, very long time.”
Founded in 1927, AAA South Jersey has four offices in the region. “My first job was in Auto Travel, marketing Trip Tiks, then I applied to run the mailroom, then I ran a branch office, then I ran all of the branch offices. Then I ran Auto Travel, then expanded all of Travel, then director, vice-president, Operations and I’m here now. It has been one heck of an adventure!” the Marlton resident says.
“I’m extremely proud of my career path at AAA South Jersey. I’ve been surrounded by good people who helped me get to where I am,” he adds.
"During David's many years at AAA South Jersey, he has consistently demonstrated a combination of leadership skills, vision, and dedication to member value and the success of the club, which will serve him well in his…role as CEO," offered Brian Duffy, chairman of the Board of Directors of AAA South Jersey at the time of Antrilli’s assumption of the top job.
Recalling his childhood, Antrilli describes his father, Perry, as “a wonderful role model, probably the best man I’ve ever known. He set the example that made me a good parent, a good man, that’s for sure.”
His mother, Beatrice, was “a stay-at-home mom, who cooked dinner every night. They instilled a strong work ethic and stressed to always do what’s right. I couldn’t ask for better parents.”
“I grew up in Philadelphia. Back then, we’d stay out all day playing until the sun went down you went home, ate, then went out and played again. We didn’t have all the distractions of the electronics kids have today—simpler times for sure! It was a close knit community. Looking back, it was pretty much a happy childhood.
Antrilli has one brother—“seven years older than me, so we didn’t have a lot in common hanging out, since we’re pretty much from two different generations. He did teach me a lot about music from his generation. To this day I think some of the best music comes from the 60’s and 70’s!”
A “huge animal lover,” Antrilli has a one dog, Sophie, and two cats, Lenny and Spooky. “All rescues. And we intend to have more.”
He earned a Bachelors degree in management from Eastern University, and is currently pursuing his master’s degree from St. Joseph’s University in organizational leadership and management.
Antrilli’s first real job was as a summer bagger at Acme. “I didn’t want to stay home for the summer, but I wasn’t old enough to work, so my mom and I changed my date of birth on my working papers to make it look like I was 16.
“I also washed dishes, delivered pizzas, things like that. Even sold pretzels in Philadelphia in the summers when I was too young to work!”
Antrilli describes his business philosophy as “cooperation through communication. I believe in teamwork. Strong teams have trust, open dialogue and they believe in a common goal. I also believe that the leader is not always the person that’s in charge. A true leader has to know when to lead, and when to follow.”
His personal motto is that “it’ll all work out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, then it’s not the end.”
Commenting on how he measures success, Antrilli says “the easiest answer is that you look at the numbers. The real answer is, how engaged is the team? How much do they believe in what you’re trying to do? If you can do both—if you can have the numbers and have true team engagement, then that’s true success.”
His toughest decision, he says, was “recently merging the Road Service and Membership call centers. I knew it was best for our members, but I also knew that there would be some challenges with the change. But looking at it two months in, the numbers and the employee engagement reflect that it was the right decision.”
His greatest fear, Antrilli says, is “something happening to my children. From a business perspective, it is that I would cease to lead the way I believe; that I would somehow compromise my values…which will never happen!”
As mentors, he cites former CEOs Joel Vittori and Carol Scott, as well as “a few board members who are mentors to me. Any my father would be my first mentor—definitely.”
The most important lesson he has learned is that “you can’t please everybody. And, above all else, always do the right thing.”