Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Two-time COBI grad focused on giving back

Rob Bleile is a two-time grad of the UT College of Business and Innovation, having obtained both his bachelor's and Executive MBA there.

He's a past president of the COBI Alumni Affiliate, currently a board member of the UT Alumni Association, and it's probably no surprise that he has season tickets to all UT's games.

He is more than an alum of the college; he is committed to it.

"I wanted to stay involved, to stay connected," Bleile said. "I like involvement, and I have a connection with the University now that is so much more than the networking. It makes me proud to be on campus."

The Norwalk, Ohio native originally came to UT as a student in the College of Engineering, but after a year transferred to the business college.

"It's hard to describe, but the College of Business, the entire University grounds really sold me. You could see the whole campus, and it felt warm and embracing."

"When I started in the College of Business, I fully embraced it," Bleile said.  "In my first semester in the business college I rushed Alpha Kappa Psi, The Professional Business Fraternity. Everything I have today I can trace back to Alpha Kappa Psi, including having met my beautiful wife, Ala, and my future business partner there."

Ala and Rob Bleile
While in college he worked for the COBI computing department under the late Joe Kiel. Upon graduation, Bleile and his partner established Shopmetrics, a data collection software platform for the mystery shopping industry, launching it in 2004.

"I grew up among entrepreneurs. My father and grandfather both started businesses.   I knew my friend Emil Tsankov (UT MBA ‘02) and I could start a business in the IT field. Emil being from Bulgaria, gave us the advantage of being an international business from day one. We have clients in nearly 40 countries, about half in North and South America, and the other half throughout the rest of the world. Now I am an entrepreneur."

But perhaps one business is not enough for an entrepreneur who likes to be involved, so four years ago Bleile took over as President of American Timber and Steel in Norwalk with his brother Adam, the company his father started in 1983 and in which he began to work while still in high school.

"I like the diversity. Shopmetrics, the software company, is a service business, while the lumber company has manufacturing, sales and different challenges.  Every day is different, yet somehow what I learn in one business I can apply in the other.  I'm having fun in the lumber business now, making it our company. I can't say that I enjoy everything, but I don't know if I could leave it."

In 2009 Bleile returned to UT COBI and obtained his Executive MBA.  "I really liked what I saw in the EMBA program," he said. "For me it was great; I was able to work in my business for five years, then was able to come back to school to learn how to take the next steps."

"I enjoy what I do," Bleile continued. "I enjoy waking up and coming to work, being with my family, coming to the university and seeing new things on campus. I need to thank my wife, Ala, because my success is due to her support; she deserves a lot of the credit, allowing me to do the things I am doing today.  She was an accounting and international business student in COBI, and now she focuses her talents and energy on raising our three amazing children."

"Everything I do needs to provide value to someone, yet it's hard to determine what is value," Bleile reflected.  "Value can be a financial return, or just doing the right thing."

"I like giving, be it my time or resources," Bleile said. "It was a big thing instilled in us by my parents and grandparents, who taught me to give back. This is what brings the most satisfaction in my life; it drives and motivates me. Giving back is my personal mission."


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