No matter what John has done over the course of his career, it's always had an aerospace, engineering and manufacturing component to it.
Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, John graduated high school and went west (ish) to study aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan. He spent his summers working as an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles to pay his way through college.
“I really liked the West Coast, and after I graduated college decided to move to Los Angeles full-time,” he said.
After 11 years of sunshine, John had the opportunity to move to Seattle and open an office for a Japanese CNC machine tool builder who wanted to grow their aerospace business. He figured it would be a two-year stint and planned to be back in L.A. once he successfully got the office up and running. However, 22 years later, John is still here.
“We ended up loving it here and staying," said John. "I loved all the outdoor opportunities this area offered in such close proximity to a great city. You had the mountains and the sound. I used to do a lot of sailing and I like being near water — both in liquid and frozen form. I like the change of seasons and just the general vibe.”
The Evolution of a Engineer
At the very beginning of his career, John worked as an aerospace engineer, but soon went into engineering program management. He decided he wanted to eventually be a CEO, and since sales was the bottom line of any company, he pursued a position in technical sales.
Throughout the years, John's experience became more and more big-picture. At one organization owned by private equity, John focused on strategies that increased revenue and EBITDA growth by more than 30 percent per year. At another manufacturing subsidiary, he increased sales, profitability and market share by instituting strategic initiatives he knew would increase efficiency and make the business capable of serving the rapidly expanding aerospace industry.
John's experience over the years equipped him to take a holistic approach to a company that wants to grow sales and profitability, and potentially become more valuable in preparation for a sale. He understands the sales and business development side of things, as well as engineering, manufacturing and R&D. With a strong working knowledge of these various functions, he can look at a company as a whole and decide what they need to do strategically to be more valuable and to grow. Then, he doesn’t just develop a strategy, he also works side-by-side with leadership to execute that strategy.
John understands the importance of seeing the whole picture and also understanding the various factors at play in order to make the right decisions. Those factors include the motivations and goals of the owners. A privately owned company is driven by different goals than one that is public or owned by private equity.
With all of this in his background, John’s focus today is two-fold. First, he develops the strategy to accomplish the goals of business leaders: growing value, sales, profitability, etc. Second, John can serve as a sort of liaison between private equity and the management teams of their portfolio companies. He’s seen what can happen when owners have a great relationship with their CEO but don't have an understanding of the details and inner workings of the business. John is able to go between the two to direct strategy and help with accurate forecasting, business planning and keeping the executors on track.
Outdoor Enthusiast, Racer and Family Man
Had John not pursued aerospace engineering, he would probably be designing the various types of equipment that have made his pursuit of the outdoors possible.
“I was really into competitive sailing and skiing" he said. "I would have loved to be in racing sailboat design or building skis for a living, following some of my outdoor interests."
John trained with an America's Cup sailboat racing team while they were preparing for competition, but stopped when he started his family.
"It was very, very time-consuming and my kids were young at the time. I took them out sailing and they weren’t very interested, and I thought I’d rather spend time with my sons doing things we can enjoy together”.
John's focus shifted to encouraging his three young boys to try anything that caught their interest, which is what led John to many of the hobbies he still enjoys today — back country skiing, mountain biking, trail running, hockey, being in the mountains and fly fishing.
In a sense, it was John's boys that got him into OneAccord as well. Some of the kids they grew up around were the children of Dave Parker, who co-founded OneAccord in 2005. But while John has known about OneAccord for years, it wasn't until recently that he thought seriously about joining.
Two years ago, his friend John Steckler joined OneAccord and suggested it might be a good fit for him, too. John (Aiello) thought about it, met with co-founder and current chairman Jeff Rogers and decided to join.
“I initially told Jeff if I could be useful somewhere as an outside resource, I’d be happy to volunteer my expertise if there’s a way I could be of service” said John.
In November of 2019, John joined Christ Venti and Steckler on a business assessment. By January the next year, he was a Principal.
John has been married for 31 years to his wife, Cyndy. Their three sons are now adults and two still live nearby in the Pacific Northwest. His oldest son is in human resources management, his middle son is the music director/worship pastor at Gold Greek Community Church and his youngest is currently attending Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.
OneAccord helps business owners meet their goals by not only laying out a plan of action, but walking alongside and guiding them through that plan through to the finish line. This series highlights the people who make that possible.