By Lucy Chabot Reed
Joe Rubano, owner of Fort Lauderdale-based RPM Diesel Engine Co. and Diesel Services of America, died at his home last night of natural causes. He was 90.
He had been in deteriorating health the past few weeks and his family had gathered to be with him when he passed.
Mr. Rubano was chairman and owner of the company, which his brother-in-law started in 1956. He joined in 1961 and took over the business side of the company, growing it carefully based on treating customers and employees like family. That approach came to be known as The Rubano Way.
“I have been ignored in a business,” he explained in a Triton profile of him in 2017, “so we train our people to be this way: When customers walk into a strange place, let’s greet them, make them feel relaxed. Say, ‘Have a coffee, I’ll be right with you.’ ”
Mr. Rubano had structured his companies to continue without him, including establishing a board of directors and naming long-time employees Bryon MacDonald and Todd Barnes as president/CEO and vice president/general manager, respectively, several years ago.
“It’s business as usual for RPM,” Barnes said, “just the way he would have wanted it.”
A memorial service is being planned.
Lucy Chabot Reed is editor/publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.