20-40 Visionaries — Young Turks Set the Pace
Christopher Wells, 34
President and CEO, LaVigne Inc., Worcester, MA
Chris Wells was in the process of building his new home and, being a former professional painter, he insisted on doing all the internal painting and staining himself after work, between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. He was a business manager with Leadership Dynamics (LDI) at the time, consulting for a commercial printing company, LaVigne Inc., and its president, Toby LaVigne. LaVigne told Wells he was looking to recruit a vice president of sales and marketing. Wells responded that he would look into finding a candidate.
“I joke to this day,” Wells quips, that “it must have been a combination of the paint fumes and being sleep deprived that led me to submit my name as a candidate for the position."
On Christmas Eve of 1998, he accepted the vice president post with
LaVigne. When the president decided to leave and start another company one year later, Wells took the helm.
“When I was 22 years old, I set a goal that I wanted to become president of an organization with 50 or more employees prior to my 30th birthday,” he says. “I made it by three months.”
A graduate of Tufts University with degrees in economics/industrial organization and Spanish/Latin American literature, Wells owned and operated a 25-employee residential painting company while still in school. Upon graduation, he took a position as district manager for College Pro Painters, where he rose to general manager.
Newly married and traveling heavily on weekends, Wells began to rethink his priorities following the death of his father. He left College Pro to pursue a career in management consulting and goal setting, putting to use the teachings of his father. “Consulting can be a bit frustrating because you tend to work with an organization for a period of six months or so, then leave,” he says. “When you return six months later, many times the organization has reverted back to the negative behaviors that were in place before.”