Guiding the Way


“Don’t Give Up the Ship.”

It’s one of the most iconic flags in U.S. history but also a symbol of pride for those who live and grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, home of the Brig Niagara.

This dramatic rallying cry was reportedly the last utterance of Captain James Lawrence as he lay dying aboard the U.S. frigate Chesapeake during the War of 1812.

Most notably, his friend and fellow commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, made this his personal battle flag during the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie.

Perry became known as the “Hero of Lake Erie” for leading American forces in a decisive naval victory over the British. His leadership aided the successful outcomes of all nine Lake Erie military campaign victories, and the victory was a turning point in the battle for the west in the war.

Now, more than 200 years later, the Flagship City is not only recognized for its rich maritime history but also for its ties to manufacturing and industry, which led to the founding of the Manufacturer & Business Association in 1905. Today, Erie’s thriving business sector includes everything from technology and manufacturing companies to insurance and health care, banking and more.

In this year’s Annual Report, the Business Magazine talks with several “captains” of industry and MBA members on the lessons they’ve learned when it comes to their leadership journey and organizational success — and how it guides the way.

Learning to Lead
The path to leadership isn’t always smooth sailing and from what we’ve heard from our area leaders, they couldn’t agree more. Some were inspired at an early age, while others gradually gravitated to leadership roles, cultivating their own leadership styles.

Take, for instance, John Pellegrino Sr., P.E., one the most respected leaders in manufacturing in northwest Pennsylvania and president and CEO of North East, Pennsylvania-based Ridg-U-Rak, Inc., which is one of the largest pallet rack and storage rack manufacturers in the United States. Pellegrino who grew up in the Warren-Forest County area was inspired to become an engineer while watching his father and grandfather build the railways that would support the logging industry in rural Pennsylvania. When he spotted
an engineer surveying a project, and clearly standing out among the laborers, he knew it was the job for him — and passionately pursued his studies to achieve his goal.

Read more in the October 2021 edition of the Business Magazine.