Sharing memories and wisdom, Alfred State College (ASC) Class of 1962 graduate Tom Golisano, returned to campus to speak to current Pioneer students and faculty.
Golisano shared memories of living in Robinson/Champlin Hall, trips to the Beacon, and his 8 a.m. accounting class with Professor Thomas Dunn. He credits Dunn for understanding his career goals, how a degree from Alfred State would assist, and leading him on the right path to success as an extremely successful entrepreneur.
“Accounting itself is a business lesson,” said Golisano. “You must understand financial statements. If when you read the book, you’ll find out. I put a lot of attention on that. Professor Dunn was a master at educating us on how to do that.”
After graduating from Alfred State and working in the payroll industry for a few years, Golisano researched and built a plan that led him to founding Paychex in 1971. He started the company with $3,000 and an idea about how to make payroll outsourcing easy and affordable for small businesses.
Paychex began with one employee and 40 clients. Details on the goals, the struggles, the successes, and the growth of the business were shared to the ASC audience. He reported that today, Paychex serves more than 700,000 clients from over 100 locations across the United States and northern Europe and employs more than 16,000 people.
“Tom Golisano is known for his success around the US and across the globe,” said John Anderson, Alfred State’s officer-in-charge. “The students here loved hearing how Tom took what he learned at Alfred State and with his ingenuity he built it into a whole new concept. His entrepreneurial spirit made it possible to deliver a full suite of professional accounting services to small businesses. He opened Paychex less than a decade after graduating from Alfred State.”
Golisano shared with students about his other business and philanthropy activities over the years. Some of those highlights included owning the Buffalo Sabres, running for governor of New York, and helping those with developmental disabilities.
Members of the audience received Golisano’s new book “Built Not Born” that contains some of the stories he shared in the presentation and serves as a no-nonsense guide for entrepreneurs.
Before spending time personally signing books for the audience in the John Shay Hall of Excellence, Golisano answered questions for the audience.
His wife Monica Seles and his grandniece Kaitlin Graham, the Director of Bailey and Friends, a not-for-profit organization that supports animal welfare in western New York joined him for the presentation.
Golisano earned a Business Administration degree in 1962. Alfred State also awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2009.