Founder and CEO
“I’m only limited by the limitations I put on myself,” says Tony. “I love having the opportunity to create whatever I want to create and raise the capital to do it, bring the people together and go for disruptive technologies. And I love the fact that people say ‘You’re crazy’ in the beginning and then five years later they say ‘What a great idea.’”
A serial entrepreneur, Aquila founded MaxMeyer America (a subsidiary of MaxMeyer Duco, S.p.A. of Italy), an importer and distributor of European refinishing products. He sold that business in 1997 to PPG Industries before founding software technology company Ensera, which was subsequently sold in 2001 to Mitchell International, where Aquila served as president and COO.
At Solera, Aquila has created and instilled a set of organizational principles that encourage and foster an environment of innovation, high performance and outstanding results. His communication style is to focus on the output of the mission, rather than the input of the individual. And his intensity, which he says is shared by all of Solera’s leaders, goes a long way to explaining the company’s extraordinary success.
“What differentiates us is ‘the Solera way,’” says Aquila. “We are twice as profitable per dollar as anybody in our industry, and that’s really driven by the culture of the company. We have 3,000 associates around the world. We run a decentralized model but a common culture in all these countries, and it allows for innovation.”
Solera companies leverage each other to develop and deliver the latest technologies, market intelligence and best practices to more than 75,000 customers.
Acquiring for growth
In building the multi-operational strength of Solera, Aquila has relied on wisdom grown from more than 20 years of global experience in the manufacturing, distribution, automotive software and collision-repair industries. He also has co-invented and patented several products.
Solera’s nimble dodging (not to mention incredible growth and success) has been partly fueled through shrewd and effective acquisitions. Aquila scrutinizes transactions using a philosophy of MMC — management, margin and core. He asks three questions: Does the target have the right management team? Do they have margin? Are they core to the business? If the answers are yes, the transaction is consummated.
The approach works. Since 2010, Solera has grown two-and-a-half times in revenue, created software in 16 languages and 40 dialects, serving 63 countries, and has more than 50% market share — with plans for 75% market share by 2020.