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Alumni Profiles - Gary Roderick

Gary Roderick40 years of marketing

Retired after a successful 40-year career in marketing research, Gary Roderick says he enjoyed his work helping companies identify and develop new business opportunities, promote products, conduct and analyze consumer surveys, and create advertising campaigns.

“I always liked the wide variety of the many projects in which I was involved,” says Roderick, who has worked at a number of diverse businesses providing everything from financial services and ophthalmic products to real estate appraisals and household cleaning and health and beauty aids.

“A lot of new products fail without correct research,” he said. “So I studied demographics, competitive intelligence, analyzed the psychology, such as likes and dislikes, behind people’s buying habits. This enabled me to help develop new products and marketing strategies for companies and to determine the best type of advertising and measure the effectiveness of these campaigns. Top executives used the information I provided in their decision making and in their strategic and market planning.“

A marketing major who was born in Portland, Maine, and grew up in Caribou, Roderick earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1966 and an MBA in 1967. He landed his first job as marketing research supervisor at Stanley Home Products in Easthampton, Mass., and went on to work as manager of marketing research at American Optical Corporation in Southbridge, Mass., vice president and manager of marketing research and information at Society for Savings in Hartford, Conn., vice president and manager of marketing research at Shawmut National Bank in Hartford, marketing manager at Gentex Optics in Dudley, Mass., and assistant vice president marketing and development manager at Connex Credit Union in North Haven, Conn. He also served as an independent marketing research consultant for Amadon and Associates, a commercial real estate appraisal firm in Hartford.

“My work challenged me intellectually and it was exciting to see how research could be used effectively,” said Roderick, who added that he learned that the key to successful marketing is to create awareness of the product, service or company.

“If consumers are not aware of what you are offering, they will not be able to purchase what you are selling as well as you expect them to.”

But Roderick also enjoyed the vagaries of his field. “I once heard a presentation by the executive who conducted marketing research for the Ford Mustang,” he said. “The advertising campaign had been aimed at young adults in their 20’s and 30’s, but it turned out to also be wildly successful with middle aged and older men who had always wanted a sports car. The presentation made me realize that marketing holds lots of surprises.”

Roderick, who retired in 2007, decided to major in business after his father, an F.W. Woolworth store manager in Caribou, told him a business degree was likely to lead to more job opportunities after graduation (he had planned to major in history and government until then).

It didn’t take long for him to realize that MBS was the place for him.

“The school provided valuable real-world experience,” he said.

He recalled a project in which he and his classmates were asked to develop a marketing campaign for Saddleback Ski Resort in Rangeley. Maine. “We had to conduct research and then develop an advertising campaign and make a presentation to the owners and managers. It was great to work with a real business.”

The case study method used at MBS also helped prepare students for the business world, Roderick said, because it required them to analyze business challenges faced by real companies and then come up with possible solutions.

“We would work in groups, write up an analysis, make presentations, and then have class discussions,” he said. “These case studies made the courses interesting, showed us the type of problems businesses encountered, and gave us practice in working collaboratively.”

Watching young people come and go during his lengthy career, Roderick said would-be entrepreneurs should have good writing and speaking skills and a familiarity with business technology. They should be flexible and adaptable, possess good time management skills, and understand the value of networking.

“Staying in touch is important. You never know when you’ll need someone’s help,” said Roderick who recalled using networking to his advantage in identifying job opportunities and obtaining interviews.

Roderick lives with his wife Dolores in South Windsor, Conn., where he enjoys substitute teaching 120 days a year at the local middle school and high school, downhill skiing in the winter, and swimming and gardening in the summer. He spends a portion of each summer in northern Maine at the cottage he and his father built on Cross Lake in 1959.

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