AEI is Darien’s largest employer; 280 people work at its tidy headquarters on a shaded road just south of Interstate 95 where, on a late summer afternoon, a cluster of Canada geese nibbled on the lawn.
The company employs about 7,400 people worldwide. In the Hartford Courant’s December 1998 ranking of Connecticut companies, based on gross revenue, AEI placed 30th.
The 64-year-old company has a history of moving goods as sturdy as heavy machinery and as delicate as pharmaceuticals. Formative early growth came in tandem with the postwar expansion of Caterpillar, the construction equipment manufacturer, into less developed countries.
AEI’s other customers include Pitney-Bowes, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and GlaxoWellcome.
AEI has a presence at more than 700 locations in some 135 countries.
After growing through most of the 1990s, AEI’s revenue and income stumbled last year when the economic downturn that began in Asia put a crimp in U.S exports.
Revenue, income and operating profit through the first half of 1999 are all down in comparison with 1998, according to the company’s secord-quarter earning report.
Lorelli said he would like to recreate an atmosphere at AEI similar to the sizzle at Pizza Hut where the company took aim at Mcdonald’s. Everyone from the cheif executive officer to the mailroom, he said, was aware of the company’s strategy, fostering a collective determination to succeed.
Lorelli has given himself two months from coming aboard in August to formulate a written plan for marketing AEI. Not surprisingly, the theme of flight informs his concept.
“You remember when John F. Kennedy said we’d put a man on the moon by the end of the decade?” said Lorelli. “That was an awsome vision for the country. But it was easy becuase he found the right way to articulate it, and everyone understood and everyone saluted the flag. They found the way to get them from here. That’s what I’d like to see happen at AEI.”
“I don’t know what the right tactic is yet, but I will. I know the objective – raising AEI’s profile and doing some seious branding. We need to crystallize the vision, find the right words to articulate it, energize the whole organization and let’s go take the hill.”