By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Bob Levinson has served in the Navy, worked as a hotelier, ran his family business and wrote a few books along the way.
And at 92, he isn’t slowing down. He recently published his latest book, “Customer Service Savvy.”
“I had fun with this last book,” he said pointing to a stack of his books on a table in his Delray Beach home.
It is one of several books Levinson has written about management over the years.
“I am obsessed with management and the lack of management in companies,” he said. “Leadership is a key factor of success in any business.”
Levinson knows about management and leadership from past experiences. After serving in the Navy for three years, he went to college at the University of Miami Ohio and then went to work for the Cincinnati-based family business Steelcraft Manufacturing, which produced doors and door frames.
The company employed 1,000 people. His father was an engineer and his older brother an architect. By the time his father died, he said he and his brother were running more than a dozen different companies.
The family business was then purchased by American Standard, Inc. where Levinson stayed on as Vice President.
He said he wasn’t sure he would like switching from a family run business to a corporate one, but surprisingly he enjoyed it.
“I was frightened initially,” he said. “I didn’t know much about corporate life. But it was terrific.”
While serving in his roles, he said he was always coming up with new ideas.
“All through my career I would come up with ideas,” he said.
Those ideas include running a meeting without chairs.
“It’s amazing how fast you can get things done with no chairs,” he said.
Or, the what he calls the scotch tape interview where you put tape over your mouth and let the other person share their story uninterrupted.
“I liked to experiment,” he said. “I like to play around with new ideas of management.”
It is those tips and stories that fill his books. This book, he said, focuses on relationships with people.
“I enjoy people to people relationships,” he said. “I always put my customers first. If they were successful, I was successful.”
He said that ideology holds true in all types of businesses from a doctor’s office to a lawyer’s office, if the customer is successful than the business owner is successful.
After leaving American Standard, he dabbled as a hotelier for 20 years. He operated and owned two hotels locally, a Holiday Inn and a Sheraton. He then worked for Lynn University in the Senior Development Office helping to raise money for the school. He retired from that job when he turned 90.
While work kept him busy, he said he always found time to pay what he calls “civic rent” or volunteering.
He has served on nonprofit boards like the Boca Raton Museum of Art and United Way. He said he learned giving back was important at a young age. Every year, he said his father would quietly arrange to go to an orphanage on Christmas and give out $1 bills to the children.
“When you do something significant in your community to help other people it is very rewarding,” he said.
In between working and volunteering, he published several books. Writing books is something he said he enjoys.
“The books offer a way to express myself,” he said. “I enjoy the creativity.”
And, he said he found time to find love again. His wife died eight years ago and he said he has fallen in love again. He even wrote a book about that, falling in love after your spouse died.
He said he spends a lot of time with his family as well. He has two sons, a handful of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“You are put on this earth to enjoy yourself,” he said. “I just have a great time.”
To obtain a copy of “Customer Service Savvy,” visit www.trafford.com or www.amazon.com.