Rock Vitale

We all have shining stars over us to guide the way. Many never look up and notice them.


Rock Vitale has almost 40 years of analytical quality assurance experience. As the founder and a Principal of Environmental Standards, he oversees a staff of approximately 35 quality assurance chemists and is responsible for the direction of the technical and managerial aspects of the company’s operations. Rock is a recognized expert in the following fields: organic and inorganic data validation (including specialty analyses); laboratory auditing; preparation or third-party review of quality assurance project plans (QAPjPs); design of specialty analyses to accommodate project-specific data quality objectives (DQOs); quality assurance oversight of complex projects (sediment projects, biomonitoring projects); and agency negotiations.

Rock Vitale previously served as the Quality Assurance Manager for an environmental firm with 26 offices nationwide. He designed and implemented a quality assurance and data validation program for all RI/FSs, site inspections, and RCRA closures. His responsibilities included the preparation of QAPjPs for Superfund/RCRA studies in all US EPA Regions, as well as a number of state-led projects, and technical liaison. He co-authored and provided peer-review comments on numerous documents on the subject of data validation for both state and federal agencies.

Rock Vitale received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science and Biology from Marist College in 1981. He completed additional post-graduate Chemistry courses at Villanova University and Rider College (1982-1985) and Chemistry Graduate Course Work at Villanova University (1985 – 1988).

When not on the work clock, Rock is an avid fisherman and enjoys spending time outdoors. His most recent trip was spent with two colleagues and friends in the jungle of Brazil on the Amazon river. After days on the river with catches of a lifetime including Piranha, Rock’s already scheduled to go back again in 2019 to spend quality time doing his favorite hobby.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

In 1987, I recognized there was a need for chemistry consulting and quality assurance support to address compliance and remediation liabilities for parties collecting environmental data. Being passionate about chemistry and the environment, I knew that I could create a company to fill that need. That’s when I took the leap and started Environmental Standards, Inc.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Lots of caffeine! I also go to the gym twice a day, and I only relax when the work is done, not according to the time of day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas often come in the quiet moments. Many of my ideas come when I’m taking a shower and when I’m sleeping. I let them marinate for a while, and then I share them with my partners. If they pass that litmus test, then I put them into action.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I get excited about the United States no longer being energy dependent on other countries.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I never ever leave anything in my rear view mirror that is not finished. Unfinished tasks can slip out of view quickly. I keep a “visual” lock on them until they are done.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Spend more time at home while the children are young – definitely.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

We all have shining stars over us to guide the way. Many never look up and notice them.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I always lead by example. I will never ask someone to do an assignment that I wouldn’t do (and haven’t done) myself.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Here are three – I hired the best people to get the tasks I “hate” done. I hired a great Managing Partner and a phenomenal CFO. I made sure my partners also became friends.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I opened an office on the West Coast, and while my partner was technically brilliant, she was not an entrepreneur. That office was closed 6 years later when it became clear that she was OK with breaking even each year.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A wear-resistant clip that will keep paired socks together through the entire laundering process. I have many (many) left socks.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I walked into a casino and turned that $100 into $2,400 in 45 minutes, and I had a lot of fun doing it!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

It’s so simple, but it’s my Outlook “Sent” mailbox – it’s how I keep track of my rear-view mirror.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Art of the Deal – it still makes me laugh.

What is your favorite quote?

“This ain’t no dress rehearsal.”

Key Learnings:

• Never let unfinished tasks get too far in your rear view mirror.
• Instead of directing, enable members of your team to think – ask them “What do you Think?”
• Acknowledge that life happens – allow unlimited flexibility with your team members.
• When people are local, make a point of having face time. Emails and text messages should never totally replace one-on-one interactions.