Freeburg entrepreneur in new ‘millionaire’ book

Freeburg entrepreneur in new ‘millionaire’ book

Internet helped to fuel his success

BY WILL BUSS News-Democrat

 

FREEBURG — Joseph Tantillo would rather you find value in his experience, not his opulence.

A
new book chronicles how the founder and chief executive officer of
Express Design Group Inc. in Freeburg and 42 other entrepreneurs’
across the country became millionaires.

The book, Prepare To Be a
Millionaire, by Tom Spinks, Kimberly Burleson and Lindsay Shepherd of
Millionaire Blueprints magazine, hit bookstore shelves last Tuesday and
also includes the success stories of chocolate chip cookie-maker Wally
"Famous" Amos and Dippin’ Dots founder Curt Jones. Tantillo is
flattered to be profiled in the book, but despite its title, Tantillo
said he hopes the new book will inspire other entrepreneurs to pursue
his example.

"I’m more humbled about what we have, and I’m so
thankful and blessed about everything that we have been given and what
we’ve worked hard for," Tantillo said. "The title, in my gut, I wish it
was more along the lines of ‘Prepare to Grow Your Business’ or ‘Prepare
to be Successful in your Business.’

"Because of that title,
people just automatically think things that could be true or could not
be true. To me, the millionaire thing is one thing, but I like knowing
that my business is growing and is successful. I have great people
here, we have great ideas, and we can make things happen. To me, that’s
succeeding."

Tantillo’s story initially appeared in the
publisher’s magazine three years ago. It covered his path to success,
which began in 1999. The New Jersey-native and his wife had just moved
from Orlando to be closer to her family in metro-east. He was looking
for a career change and had an idea: design and distribute apparel for
college fraternities and sororities. He launched the business inside
his in-laws’ barnhouse. On a whim, he said he developed business
transactions online, via e-commerce, which gave rise to greekgear.com and other e-commerce-related products.

His company also manufactures and sells Italian-themed products over guidogear.com, Christiangear.com sells Christian merchandise, and gearforgoldensr.com has merchandise featuring Golden Retrievers. Another, weddinggiftsetc.com, will go online soon.

Tantillo
saw his in-house embroidery, engraving, screen- and digital-print
business top $1 million in sales in 2003 and said it has grown between
20 percent 25 percent each year.

His company recently purchased
land next door where he will add another 5,000 square feet of
production space. He said a lot of the things he does are instinctual,
but has surrounded himself with a great staff, including a recently
hired chief operating officer. "I’ve been lucky with both," he said.

"We’re
just growing and growing. We’re doing things a lot better. We have more
and more equipment in-house. We’re at a point now where we can
literally build a Web site in a couple hours with all new products."

Millionaire
Blueprints President and Editor-in-Chief Kimberly Burleson said she and
her staff selected Tantillo and the others profiled in the book from a
pool of 260. She said Tantillo was any easy choice.

"We had such
a large response for each story we run in the magazine," Burleson said.
"The response we had from his story was overwhelming. They thought what
he did was phenomenal. So many wanted to get in touch with him. So he
was a natural selection because of the response from readers."

Burleson
calls the book a "blueprint for entrepreneurs." Released Feb. 1, the
book is found at Barnes & Noble, Borders and anywhere else new
books are sold. After less than a week on bookstore shelves, Barnes
& Noble is already requesting a second order, Tantillo said.

Tantillo
has read the book, but has not met any of the other noted
entrepreneurs. He said he enjoys talking to others who are wanting to
start their own enterprise or are running their own business.

"When
I meet someone that has their own business, I gravitate to them," he
said. "I love to talk to them and pick their brain and share my ideas.
So that’s a really neat thing. It’s another way for people to reach out
to us. It even puts some authority behind what we do."

Aside from what is published in the book, Tantillo offers one more piece of advice.

"Just
have a positive attitude," he said. "Even the person who interviewed me
for the book made a point to thank me just for being positive. Never
focus on the negative. It gets you nowhere. Instead of sitting around
complaining, you should be doing."

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