I was told of the passing of Joe Lucatorto last week and I wanted to share my memory of his leadership. Joe was an amazing leader and accomplished a great many things in his career in the phone companies. He oversaw the development of Interstate private line services and was instrumental in the way services were bundled into a managed service.
Joe was a true native New Yorker and understood the communications requirements of Wall Street better than anyone.
When I first started meeting with him, Pete Kos asked me to find a partner for Bell Atlantic New Jersey to bring SONET to NYC. The region was ignoring the opportunity of the corridor and was helping Interstate operators. When I first came to meet Joe his office had a number of couches lined up in the hall and I was just like every other vendor looking to meet the Don of Telecommunications.
When I had my audience he understood the situation better than my management and wanted to partner. However, the city was not a place for SONET rings the way we had architected them. You see often in the Towers of NY the circuits of an entire central office were less than the capacity needed for a single address in lower manhattan.
His need was for us to support NYNEX Enterprise which was a mix solution built on Newbridge Networks gear.
I worked to get the plans in place and was looking to have a kick off meeting the day Ray Smith announced he was merging Bell Atlantic with TCI. My VP and entire management team never made it to the meeting. I looked pretty foolish and Joe had gathered an executive team at NYNEX for this kickoff.
However, Pete Kos and certain unnamed management types told me to hold down the fort and keep visiting Joe. I know that other phone conversations followed me into NYNEX management.
The TCI merger did not go through and in the long run NYNEX and Bell Atlantic merged. Those talks were above my pay grade, but Joe Lucatorto and his team gave me lots of credit for sticking it out and gave me a chance to work with them.
I have a lot of regrets corporately and one of the largest is leaving Luca’s organization. He was brilliant and his team was dedicated to him.
I think of him often and expect that will not change.