By Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS)-– A student at the Villanova School of Business is getting real-world experience that’s a lot more hands-on than an internship: he owns an arcade at the shore.
Mike Dolio started working at Uncle Al’s Arcade in Sea Isle City when he was 13.
“In 2009, Al decided he was going to be selling the business,” Dolio says.
At just 16 years old, he convinced his real estate agent mom to help him buy the place.
“I’d learned how to run it. I had been fixing machines at that point, helping to count the money.”
This past summer was his fourth year running what he has named Uncle Mike’s Arcade.
“I feel as if the business is my child. I think about it all the time.”
Never more so than during Hurricane Sandy, when his and many other shore businesses suffered. But after an off-season of repairs…
“This year, I was up about 31.5 percent. That’s something we’ve been extremely proud of considering I was nervous after what happened with Sandy, if people were going to be taking vacations. Sea Isle City itself did a large marketing campaign to get people who had gone farther north to come south to Sea Isle.”
Bosses looking to replicate Dolio’s success might look to how he treats his workers, learned, in part, in a competitive effectiveness course at the Villanova School of Business.
“Empower your employees to really make them feel that they have a stake in the business,” Dolio says. “If they can help the bottom line of the business, they’re only helping themselves.”
And he offers a philosophy fit for even those of us who don’t sign our own paychecks.
“If we had a bad day yesterday, it doesn’t matter,” Dolio says. “What matters is tomorrow has to be a good day. If we had a great day today, it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow has to be the best day. So no matter what I do, it all falls with us, and I have to make sure I’m always moving forward.”