AIC board member Frank Colaccino gives career advice to students Frank Colaccino '73, HON '12, was the first speaker in the new Faces of AIC Lecture Series that debuted on March 26. More than 100 students and faculty and staff members packed the West Wing of the Sprague Cultural Arts Center to hear Colaccino, a member and former chair of the AIC Board of Trustees.
"I have a deep passion for this school," said Colaccino, an economics major who graduated from AIC in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, and was the first alumnus to become chairman of the board.
Heather Cahill, associate vice president for institutional advancement, said the new speaker series is designed to expose the AIC community to diverse opinions, profound insights and lively discussion on a broad scope of issues. "We are excited to showcase dynamic and influential alumni, trustees and distinguished friends of the college who will promote student development by bringing together students and successful professional role models. This is just one of the many ways AIC alumni support the college," she said.
When Colaccino was six, the family moved from Italy to Springfield, where both parents worked in local factories. Eventually, his father got a job as a custodian at MassMutual Financial Group, then known as Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
Colaccino grew up a working class son, struggling at first with English and eventually mastering the new language on his own. He believes those years helped to mold and strengthen him.
“That experience had an influence on me. You didn¹t have any bilingual programs back then, you just figured it out. When you¹re a young child and you have hardship, it makes you stronger,” he said.
Colaccino told students there are basic rules to follow when interviewing for a job. "The one thing you should always remember is to be respectful. When you talk to people, look them in the eyes. When you shake hands, give them a firm handshake. Be honest and straightforward. If you don't know the answer to a question, say you don't know," he said.
“Frank's story is incredibly inspiring,” said AIC Provost Todd G. Fritch. “I think our students will absolutely benefit from hearing stories like his. I'm so excited that this series is now underway, and I'm very much looking forward to future Faces of AIC lectures."
Colaccino graduated from the former Technical High School in 1969, entering Quinnipiac College, now Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. He left after one semester and enrolled at AIC, living at home and working two jobs, one at a gas station and the other selling rugs, to pay his way through.
It was during those years that he got the real estate broker¹s license that helped to shape his career. After AIC he worked at the former Whyte Real Estate Co.
In the mid 1970s, Colaccino worked out a few real estate deals with Dairy Mart Convenience Stores owner Charles Nirenberg. He was soon brought on board to head up real estate and construction for the Enfield, Conn.-based company. He was appointed vice president after two years. During those years, Colaccino earned an MBA going to school in the evening, as he worked full-time. During his tenure, the company grew from 40 stores in the home region, to 1,300 across the United States. Dairy Mart became the third largest convenience store chain in the country. He eventually became president and CEO.
Colaccino left Dairy Mart in 1994 and went on to launch his own company, The Colvest Group, Ltd. The company specializes in commercial real estate, and now has several dozen properties leased to national retail tenants in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.