NAUGATUCK — Ron Pugliese has been attending the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting and Lewis A. Dibble Awards Dinner since the 1980s. On Jan. 8, the capacity crowd that filled the Crystal Room for the 93rd such meeting and dinner did so in honor of him.
The chamber honored Pugliese, president and chief executive officer of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation, as this year’s recipient of the Lewis A. Dibble Award.
“To be mentioned in the same sentence as all these distinguished individuals who have served Naugatuck in so many ways is truly humbling,” Pugliese said.
The award, which is named after the man who founded the chamber in 1921, is presented to an individual each year for his or her outstanding contributions to the business and socioeconomic well-being of Naugatuck.
Pugliese started as CEO of the NEDC in September 2013. Since then, he has overseen demolition of a Building 25 — the former Uniroyal administrative hub — and has seen two developers sign development options on parcels C and A — Parcel C is on the corner of Maple and Water streets, and Parcel A is the former General DataComm property.
Although Pugliese started working for the NEDC in 2013, he is no stranger to Naugatuck. He is a former burgess and served as president of the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls three times. He now lives in Southbury with his wife, Janice, but Naugatuck is the town where is three sons grew up.
Pugliese’s career also started in Naugatuck with the Alloy Foundries Division of the Eastern Company in 1977. From there his career took some twists and turns, including serving as senior vice president of government relations at Household International, which later became HSBC, president of the East Hartford Chamber of Commerce, and director of economic development for Waterbury, before his path led him back to Naugatuck.
“I think he has been so successful and we are so fortunate to have him because of qualities like integrity, his work ethic and, quite frankly, his big picture vision of what things should be in our community,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said. “I like to say there are people who get it, and Ron gets it. He understands where we’re going and the path that we need to get there.”
As last year’s recipient of the Dibble Award, Mezzo had the distinction of presenting Pugliese with this year’s award.
“It’s a great honor tonight because not only do I get a chance to award to the individual who followed me, but I get to award it to someone I consider a very close friend,” Mezzo said.
After receiving the award, Pugliese took time to thank his family, friends and colleagues that filled the room, and borrowed a line from Winston Churchill.
“Winston Churchill once said, ‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm,’” Pugliese said. “Sometimes I think he had me in mind when he said that.”
Pugliese said he has tried many things in his life that didn’t work out, but kept on trying.
“Hopefully without loss of humor, excitement and enthusiasm,” he added.