For the name of his new company, he singled out his family members, using the first letter of their names: beginning with his wife, Pamela, and in descending order, their four children—Adam, Erik, Tessa and Emma—then capped it off with a C for their last name.
And that’s how PAETEC Corp., and its subsidiary PAETEC Communications Inc. were born in May 1998. Chesonis admits he didn’t start up his integrated communications provider services alone—or with just the help of two or three friends.
“I had 71 friends, a group of folks who had worked with me and each other for ten, 20 years at Rochester Telephone and ACC Corp.,” Chesonis explains. “As an entrepreneur, you never would get that kind of opportunity again.”
In recognition of his business success and contributions within the community, the College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology has named Chesonis as recipient of the 2006 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award. He will be honored at RIT during a noon luncheon on April 6 at the Louise Slaughter Building, Room 2240.
“This award symbolizes the link that joins RIT with the Rochester-area business community,” says Wayne Morse, interim dean, RIT’s College of Business. “Our aim is to spark the entrepreneurial spirit in today’s students by exposing them to the stories of people whose exceptional accomplishments have led to business success. PAETEC is one of those success stories that will have tremendous value to our students.”
As chairman and CEO of PAETEC Corp., Chesonis typically works a 10-hour day, five days a week, and saves the weekends to hang out with his family—often attending dance or sporting events. And yes, he is excited about the opening of PAETEC Park this summer, the new home of the Rochester Raging Rhinos soccer team. It’s been six years and counting because as Chesonis explains, “We signed with the organization for naming rights to the stadium before Y2K!”
He is also no stranger to RIT—especially to the university’s co-op programs. “We probably have 65 alumni already at PAETEC just in Rochester,” says Chesonis, who joined the RIT Board of Trustees last summer. He is also on the Harley School board, the Monroe Community College Advisory Board, and working with the new mayor of Rochester, Robert Duffy, as chairman of his Information Technology (IT) Transition Committee.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to help city government, and I’ll be co-chairing an IT steering committee the next couple of years with Jorge Diaz-Herrera (dean of RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences),” Chesonis says.
Chesonis firmly believes RIT’s co-op programs is one of the university’s biggest strengths. “I don’t think people realize how much of a benefit that is for the students because when they are in the workplace and get to know the companies, they have almost a guaranteed job if they do it well and they can leverage that to enhance offers from other places.”
“Other undergraduate programs at different schools may have internship programs, but they don’t have anywhere near the real-world, work experience that RIT graduates do. As far as RIT has gone in the last ten years, I think in the next ten years they can grow that much more.”
Chesonis, who received a B.S. in civil engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester, began his career at Rochester Telephone Corp., now Citizens Communications Co. He went on to serve as president of ACC Corp., the parent company for all ACC-owned operations in the United States, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom, from 1994 until 1998, and was elected to its board of directors in 1994.
NOTE: RIT’s Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award goes annually to a successful individual who developed a business that improved the Rochester economy or whose innovative management skills have changed the course of an existing business. Past recipients include Philip Saunders, chairman of Genesee Regional Bank and CEO of Griffith Energy Inc., Wayne LeChase, CEO of LeChase Construction Services LLC, and Joseph M. Lobozzo II, founder and CEO of JML Optical Industries Inc.