Entrepreneur shares business expertise with students

Father and son, Bob and Sam DeLullo.

Father and son, Bob and Sam DeLullo, review their presentation on finding success in small business, which they presented to Penn State DuBois students on Wednesday.

Credit: Steve Harmic

The owner of successful trucking and landscaping supply companies visited business students at Penn State DuBois on Wednesday to share advice on becoming a successful entrepreneur. Bob DeLullo has founded and operates both DeLullo Trucking and WoodBed Corporation, both based in St. Marys. His appearance in the classroom is part of an ongoing project in the Business 250 class, Problems of Small Business, which requires each student to invite a small business owner to campus and interview that that person about their experiences. The student doing the interviewing for this installment was DeLullo's own son, Sam, who is earning his associate of business degree.  

DeLullo was able to share his unique experiences as an entrepreneur who started a second business in support of, and as a result of, his initial business. He founded DeLullo Trucking in 1990, and primarily hauled wood products such as mulch, wood pellets for heating stoves, and other landscaping supplies. Then, in 2005, DeLullo said the rising price of fuel it took to run his fleet of trucks gave him reason to re-evaluate his business model and find ways to bring in greater profit to cover increased costs. He decided to establish WoodBed Corporation, and produce his own wood products, rather than haul someone else's product. Today, WoodBed and DeLullo Trucking support one another, with WoodBed manufacturing the products, and DeLullo Trucking hauling them to market. The companies supply landscaping contractors and distributors both locally, and as far away as Buffalo, Erie and Pittsburgh. 

"As you go along in life, someone will offer help," DeLullo told the class, pointing out that even the most driven entrepreneurs rarely find success without the support of others. "Accept it. Accept help.  I took help and that's how I got started," he continued, remembering friends and family members who offered loans or served as mentors until he could get things off the ground. He added that his parents and other family members also owned and operated businesses such as a store and a gas station, so entrepreneurship was something he was surrounded by while growing up, making the risks involved seem less daunting.

DeLullo said he started his trucking company when a company he drove for decided to focus on other areas and eliminate their own trucking line. Which brought him to another piece of advice for the students. He said, "Recognize opportunity when it comes along. I was 24 years old, driving for a company, and the company told me they were getting out of trucking. I knew I could either lose my job or buy that truck. So, I was almost forced into it, but I made it work."

One way DeLullo made it all work was by staying positive while putting in the long hours it took to establish himself. He said, "One thing that can drag you down in business is focusing on the bad. You have to concentrate on the good. Always look at the positive. When you first start out running a business, you have to give it everything you can. It took me 20 years to get established working 14 or 16 hours a day, but now I can work eight hours a day, or even less."

Finally, DeLullo offered students tips that coincide with much of what they've learned in Business 250 on how to organize and successfully run a business, including the creation of a formal business plan. 

"Always make sure to run your business like a business," DeLullo said. "Be accountable and do it the right way. If you make shortcuts early on, down the road there will be problems for you. You need goals, and you need them on paper, and you need to live by them."

Sam has worked with his father at the family business for years, and plans to build upon their existing success using the education he is currently receiving at Penn State DuBois, as well as his real-world experience. Sam said, "I want to keep the family business going. I'm doing well and learning a lot in this class, and it's definitely stuff I can use at the business, like accounting and marketing."