BY CAROL COLAIZZI CCOLAIZZI@NCNEWSONLINE.COM





Todd Bluedorn gives partial credit for his success to his Lawrence County childhood. The new chief executive officer of Lennox International also called his father "a huge influence" and cited his education at West Point as a major factor. A Laurel High School graduate, Bluedorn said growing up here was great. He was raised on a farm in Scott Township, and said his childhood was "a lot less programmed" than the one his two daughters have. "I loved where I grew up and the people I grew up with. I can't say enough about it." That childhood was apparently pleasant for his parents, too. Both of them -- Donald and Elaine -- described him as "very easy to raise." "He was very bright," Donald Bluedorn noted. "He had a real curiosity. He was a fun kid." Bluedorn "has always been very focused," his father continued. "He knew at a young age what he wanted to do. "Since he was 12 years old, he always said he wanted to be a CEO by the time he was 45. He beat it by one year." The April Fool's baby turned 44 the day before he stepped into his new job. Elaine Bluedorn confirmed her younger son's determination. "He always told me 'I'm not going to grow old and say I wish had. I'm going to do it now.' "He was self-motivated, always," she added. But that motivation was sparked by his parents, to whom he returned the favor. Elaine Bluedorn pointed out her husband set a good example for their son. "He drove to Akron several nights a week to get his law degree," she recalled, noting that was on top of working full time for Penn Power. She said she also went back to college, to add a bachelor's degree to her nursing certification. "We motivated them and they motivated us," Elaine Bluedorn said of Todd and his brother, Donald, an attorney. "We were always aware that they'd be seeing our grades," she added. Bluedorn echoed his mother's assessment, saying, "My dad was a huge influence." He explained his father at one time had run Penn Power's New Castle operation and he would sometimes tag along when there was an emergency to handle. Bluedorn said he saw the respect his father got, and gave, to everyone he worked with. "It was just good old-fashioned caring about people." And people turned him to the path he has taken. Bluedorn said he got to his new post "taking it step by step. "I enjoy leading and being in front of people. And I like the competition." In addition to his father, Bluedorn said, "West Point was a big influence. It taught me a lot about leading people." And he noted he got a boost in the business world from growing up in western Pennsylvania. "When I spent time on the factory floor, or with salesmen, I always felt comfortable with them, and they with me, I think." He said if he had grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth, it wouldn't have been the same. "In this area, people are pragmatic, practical, they have a let's-get-this-thing-done attitude. That had a huge influence on me." Asked how the people he works with might describe him, he said, "Approachable, clear and direct, and demanding -- both of them and of myself." His mother, however, answered more simply. "He is a joy in many, many ways."

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