2013 Road to Palm Springs

Finalist profile

  • Share

Gennaro “Jerry” Paolone
Chairman and CEO
MagnaFlow Exhaust Products
(dba Car Sound Exhaust Systems, Inc.)

Jerry Paolone is no stranger to tough decisions. At 18, he emigrated from Italy to Canada to work as an electrician. After numerous jobs, he started his own company, Pine Electric, which struggled economically. So he decided to close the business and move to California.

In 1981, he founded MagnaFlow Exhaust Products to distribute exhaust components, principally after-market catalytic converters. Three years later, the company became a manufacturer. And when competitors sought cheaper manufacturing in Asia, he decided to stay firmly planted in the US.

MagnaFlow historically sold its products through distributors, but it has expanded to direct retailers like NAPA Auto Parts and internet-based companies. Over the years, Jerry never viewed EPA requirements or even California’s strict emission regulations as barriers, instead seeing them as challenges fueling his entrepreneurial drive.

MagnaFlow has grown from three employees to more than 300 with worldwide distribution, and it has more applications certified in California than any of its competitors.