Submitted photo Members of Xavier University’s executive MBA class pose for a group photo while completing a consulting project for AK Steel. Rick Arquilla is originally from Mount Vernon, Moore was raised in Sparta. From left, are Sean Johnson, Randy Johnson, Arquilla, Moore and Mike Huffman.
Submitted photo
Members of Xavier University’s executive MBA class pose for a group photo while completing a consulting project for AK Steel. Rick Arquilla is originally from Mount Vernon, Moore was raised in Sparta. From left, are Sean Johnson, Randy Johnson, Arquilla, Moore and Mike Huffman.

MOUNT VERNON — At first, Lonie Moore and Rick Arquilla seemed as different as two people can be.

Arquilla is an outgoing, natural born leader who rose through the ranks to become president of a plumbing service company. Moore is a numbers man, an actuary and statistician working as a sales analytics director at an insurance company. Arquilla is 66 and Moore is 34.

When the two met in an executive MBA program, it became clear that they actually have a lot in common — both came from blue collar households and were the first in their family to go to college. They both hailed from small town Ohio — Arquilla grew up in Mount Vernon, Moore was a Highland grad. But perhaps the strongest connection between the two is a mutual drive for excellence.

“Rick and I really hit it off well because he and I, when we finish a project, we both are inclined to go back and look at it again and say, ‘What could we have done better?’” said Moore.

Arquilla and Moore’s paths crossed in the fall of 2017, when they enrolled in the executive MBA program at Xavier University in Cincinnati. They quickly hit it off, forming a friendship that will likely last a lifetime. Last December, the pair graduated first and second in their class. Their top marks earned them a spot in the Cincinnati chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, a highly selective international business honor society.

While enrolled at Xavier, Arquilla, Moore and their classmates met with executives from different multinational companies, completed business consulting projects with regional companies and took international business trips to Thailand and Singapore. Both men worked full-time during the program, which met for two eight-hour classes every other week for sixteen months.

“I went into it thinking it would be the easiest thing I ever did,” said Moore. “It ended up being the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Moore, a director of sales analytics for Protective Life Insurance Company, decided to pursue an MBA so he could have a better understanding of the business side of insurance.

“Frankly, nobody cares how smart I am or what degrees I have if I’m not easy to work with,” he said. “Now I have a perspective that I didn’t have before…I can now relate to (my coworkers) in a different way, whereas before I was just the math guy.”

Arquilla enrolled so that after he retires, he can use his experience as an executive to teach college business courses and possibly serve on boards of directors.

“If there’s something I might say in the classroom — a story I tell, if a light bulb goes on and it changes how a student see things at a personal level or a professional level and I impact their lives in some way, it would be worth it,” he said.

For Arquilla, the true benefit of success is how it can be used to build better opportunities for the people in his company. His ultimate goal is to have a positive affect on the people around him.

“I’m very humbled by the fact that there are thousands of employees at my company who are looking to me to provide a bright future,” he said. “We all get a chance during the day to impact others. And that’s the coolest thing ever.”

Both men live in Cincinnati, but carry fond memories of growing up in the Mount Vernon area.

Arquilla grew up on Riley Street, just around the block from the old Elmwood Elementary School. He graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 1971. When he thinks back on his childhood, he recalls mushroom hunting, catching the latest movies at Beck’s Point Drive In and seeing the stock car races on Saturday nights.

Moore was raised in Sparta.

“Growing up, Mount Vernon was a big city for me,” he recalled. “It was a treat to go to the Taco Bell or the McDonald’s over in Mount Vernon.”

He played trombone in the Highland High School Marching band and was selected to be lower brass section leader his senior year. He graduated in 2002. Being a member of the marching band was a significant experience, one he believes laid the foundation for his future success.

“That’s where I learned to be competitive and take pride in something,” he reflected. “That was the thing that fueled my momentum into college, that passion…Being a part of the high school band at Highland continues to be a source of pride for me.”

Both men agree that the biggest factors in their individual success have been hard work and taking advantage of every opportunity.

“Whatever it is that motivates you, you’ve got to latch on to it and you’ve got to allow that to drive you to being the best you,” said Moore.

“The secret of success is that there is no secret. You’ll catch one or two lucky breaks in your life and when given that opportunity, you have to make the most of it,” added Arquilla. “Do what you love and don’t be afraid to get outside your comfort zone. When you get outside your comfort zone, all sorts of great things can happen.”

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Katie Ellington: 740-397-5333 or katie@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @kt_ellington