I remember in my first few weeks of working for METRO, my former editor gave me a heads up that Frank Di Giacomo, our publisher at the time, was coming to the home office for a visit. I must admit after hearing stories about him, I was nervous about our meeting, so on that Monday morning sitting across from Frank as he twisted his pinkie ring, I didn’t quite know what to expect. “You hear anything about me?” he asked me while still twisting his ring, “well, it’s all true!” Finally, laughter broke the tension, and I would go on to enjoy every moment of working with Frank. Over those years, it turned out the stories I heard equated essentially to professionalism: dress well, treat people fair, and do what you say you will do.
A friend and a mentor
I spent over 15 years working together with Frank, who is riding off into the sunset after more than 40 years with Bobit. During that time I went from a college graduate trying to find his way early in his career to a married man with four kids and the task of running a magazine that we both love day-to-day. Over those years, he was more than a boss. He was a mentor, a friend, and essentially an extended family member. It’s odd to me to have found that in a boss, but I can honestly say it’s true. And I’m not the only one.
“Frank Di Giacomo was my mentor for over 20 years, and I can count him as one of my dearest and closest friends as well,” explained Mark Hollenbeck, our former colleague and current regional sales director for the west coast at Proterra. “Anyone who had the pleasure to work with Frank over the past 40-plus years through METRO Magazine can tell you that he was first class all the time — honest, trustworthy, and fair. METRO has been the gold standard in the industry for years, because Frank has dedicated his career to create something the entire industry looked toward for knowledge and integrity.”
Over the years, Frank was heavily involved in not only the transit and motorcoach industries, but also the school bus industry, through our sister publication School Bus Fleet, and all the associations that are a part of those industries, including APTA’s prestigious Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG). In fact, in 2002, Frank was presented with APTA's Outstanding Public Transportation Business Award for his contributions to the industry.
“Frank has been a shining light in the public transportation world for many years, always keeping a finger on the transit industry’s pulse,” said APTA President/CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “[He] has been ever-reliable through the publications he has led, the public-private relationships he has nurtured, and the enormous service he has provided to APTA and its Business Member Board of Governors. Throughout, Frank has been a friend and counsel to many. We wish Frank all the very best in his retirement, assured that he and his contributions will long be appreciated.”
“Frank will always be an icon in the industry,” added Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the American Bus Association. “He is well respected and has a great reputation of always looking ahead at opportunities for improvement. He will be greatly missed.”
Leaving a legacy
I think perhaps the best part of knowing Frank is that after spending time together at an industry conference or dinner, you walked away with a story. He also is leaving behind his integrity and sincerity, traits that I hope to pass off to any new team members that may join us over the years to come.
In closing, I reached out to some of his friends in the industry to share their thoughts.
“Frank is one of the icons of the industry. An active member of the BMBG, he always represents the industry and business members with dignity and integrity,” said Kim Green sr. advisor at Genfare. “Dinners with Frank are legendary, with his love of a well-done steak and ice cream for dessert. Once at dinner with a large group of business members, we ordered him a huge bowl of ice cream since it was his birthday. The waiter asked if he wanted multiple spoons so he could share with the group. Frank responded with ‘no spoons, this is for me,’ and he ate it all. Congrats Frank on a great career in transit.”
“Frank has been an icon in the transit industry — influential to so many people and their careers,” added Ray Melleady, executive VP at United Safety & Survivability Corp. “His business acumen and professionalism are well known by this community, and he will be sorely missed.”
"Frank has been a dear friend for most of my life,” says Cliff Henke, technical fellow and sr. director at WSP USA. “I remember fondly my 'Jersey shore' experience with him in the early '80s and the many laughs we have had since. And of all the mentors I've had in my career, Frank has always been my most valued. The nanosecond he is eligible, he is my nominee for the APTA Hall of Fame."
Finally as I reached out to people for comment, I received one from Patrick Scully, executive VP, public sector development, at Turbo Images, that pretty much perfectly summed it all up.
“Who could believe Frank is retiring. Does it seem possible? The tireless champion of public transportation through his provocative work as publisher of Bobit’s Metro Magazine and School Bus Fleet publications to his engagement in APTA’s BMBG, Frank is the epitome of our industry’s professionalism and tenure,” said Scully. “One who defies his age, Frank is always presented in the finest haberdashery and one whom I call a dear friend in the industry. From the time I entered the industry over 30 years ago Frank was one of the first who embraced, mentored, and guided me through my career and to this day remains one of my closest industry confidants. Congratulations are in order from the entire public transit and school bus industries as Frank moved both segments to a better place over his career. From a personal perspective, a sincere thanks and congratulations to a true gentleman. Thanks, Frank, and I will see you as soon as I can on the first tee.”
So long Frank. I know this isn’t goodbye, but good luck. Hope that you add to your ridiculous amount of hole in ones on the golf course and thanks from all of us for the legacy you’ve left behind.