About magazine 2014 Person of the Year: Steve Perry

Throughout his career at Timken, Perry led the accounting department and human resources. When George W. Bush was elected president, the president asked Timken for recommendations to head the General Services Agency. “President Bush said, ‘you business guys are backing me and you need to help me because we need the best and brightest working in Washington’,” Timken said.

RING PRESENTATION Perry presenting Bill Parcells with his Hall of Fame Ring during week two of the 2013 NFL season.Photo provided by the Pro Football Hall of Fame
RING PRESENTATION Perry presenting Bill Parcells with his Hall of Fame Ring during week two of the 2013 NFL season.
Photo provided by the Pro Football Hall of Fame

“I recommended Steve to the president. And on a number of occasions since then, the president has remarked to me about Steve, and he still speaks highly of Steve.”

When Timken, who is on the Hall’s board of trustees, learned Perry would take over control of Stark County’s crown jewel, he knew it was in good hands.

“All of his experience … prepared him to run and organize well,” Timken said. “Steve is a sports enthusiast. He played in high school. It isn’t as though someone interested in music did this. … I recommended him for a lot of posts at the Timken Co. … He was always the right guy at the time right time for the right job.”

There has been an internal mantra over the years among the Hall’s board of trustees. Finding a new executive director is no easy task. Over the years — Perry is just the fifth to hold the title — each man chosen to lead the Hall was “the right man at the right time.”

“He came in and took a vision that many of us had, and as the kids say these days, he blew it up,” said Dave Motts, the Hall’s vice president for marketing/sponsorships. “He will tell you it’s a team effort. If I can point to any one person that got done what we got done the last two years — the impact the Hall has made in taking its brand to the next level and ramping it up — he’s the one.

“Could anyone else have come in and taken us to where Steve has nationally? I’m sure there’s probably someone. But with what he did and getting the board behind what he wanted the Hall to become and blending it in nationally, that was the trick. That was the equation that had to work. To find that person would be a lot harder.”

Motts is one of the Hall’s most-senior tenured employees.

These were the most gratifying years in my career. No doubt about it, it’s because of him. You can take all the superlatives, throw them at Steve, and they all stick.”

Dave Motts, vice president for marketing/sponsorships at the Hall of Fame

The one that has applied to Perry throughout his career is “people person.”

Senior executives at the Timken Co. saw it in him as a young up-andcomer.

It’s what his high school teachers and coaches saw in him at Timken High. Little-known fact — Perry played high school football for the Trojans. He wasn’t too shabby as a defensive back, either.

“I was a starter, and held that position pretty well,” Perry said, the first time during an hourlong conversation that his chest seemed to puff.

THE PERRYS Steve and wife Sondra Perry with their five children (top, left to right): Antoinette, Jerry, Steve Jr., Andrea and (bottom, center) Rebakah, circa 1990.
THE PERRYS Steve and wife Sondra Perry with their five children (top, left to right): Antoinette, Jerry, Steve Jr., Andrea and (bottom, center) Rebakah, circa 1990.

It puffs, too, when he speaks of his five children and eight grandchildren. He is looking forward to spending more time at their events, traveling with wife Sondra and golfing at a vacation home in Hilton Head.

But the first day of actual retirement could be weird for Perry. He will be retired. He said he has no plans of entering the workforce again, but will volunteer time on various boards he serves.

“I’ll probably have a cup of coffee and look out the window,” Perry said. “I don’t intend to do nothing … but this is the first period in time to be able to focus on spending time with family.”

He may travel back to the Cape Verde Islands. He’s been there twice in search of his father’s roots. The first time, he found the church where his father was baptized. The second time, with the help of a translator, he found family.

Perry’s roots go back to the tiny island. However, his business roots, the acumen to run organizations, that is traced back to the Timken Co., to a time that even the family doesn’t know about.

“The Timken family has been very, very influential and very, very significant,” Perry said. “It goes beyond what Tim or Jack would be aware of.”

See, when Perry attended Timken High School, he was thinking about a career. He didn’t know the field. However, his father worked at Republic and always admired Timken.

Perry knew he would work there one day.

perrycover“It was a company with a global footprint in Canton, Ohio,” Perry said. “It produced a world-class product, and secondly, it was a company that practiced corporate citizenship. … I remember walking past their plants growing up, thinking ‘I would like to work for a company like that.’ Even before I was employed there, I was positively influenced by it.”

Think about that.

World-class product? Global footprint?

Kind of sounds a little like the Pro Football Hall of Fame that Perry helped revitalize.