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We Are Sunshine

Leaders of the Future: 30-year-old Erin Murphy is steering the course of one of the East Coast’s largest tanning businesses

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

In recent years, James Mastronardi had largely stepped away from leadership of his indoor tanning business with more than 80 East Coast locations. With established management that had been with the company for many years, the business ran itself without him. But, it took an eye-opening experience for him to realize that ULTRATAN wasn’t headed in the right direction and would need to undergo significant change to get back into position to flourish well into the future.

One day, Mastronardi walked into an ULTRATAN location, which he rarely did at the time, and began talking to a frontline worker who had no idea who he was. The 19-year-old girl started telling him about all the problems with the operations of the location.

“She was so on top of things, and I was so impressed. I finally told her who I was, and she gasped and then kept telling me more and more,” Mastronardi says.

He left the store, but turned around, realizing he should show the girl additional gratitude for her commitment to the company. When he returned, he found her crying, and was told that the location’s district manager had caught wind of the conversation and “chewed out” the girl for telling Mastronardi what was going on in the store.

It was a revelation on two levels: He caught a glimpse of the potential of the younger generation of employees, and also realized that his management team was “creating barriers and firewalls” that shunned the talents and perspectives of the junior staff.

“It really touched me,” Mastronardi says. “I realized I had a bigger purpose. I realized there’s something there with this new generation. I realized, unlike I’ve heard, the younger generations wants opportunities. She loved Ultra Tan so much.”

With this, Mastronardi found the motivation he had been lacking to make major changes to push the business back in the right direction.

I went in and started cleaning house, and I didn’t do that by firing them; I just started holding them accountable, and they left,” Mastronardi says. “I was on a mission. I felt like this is a purpose for me…to create opportunities. It was amazing how the company benefited.”

All of the previous leadership, who had all been with the company more than 10 years, is now gone. To replace them, Mastronardi has introduced an executive team that consists of individuals in their 20s and early 30s. Erin Murphy, the new CEO of ULTRATAN and Ultra Skin Wax Center, is 30 years old. Operations Manager Joey March is in his early 30s. Jenna Johnston, Marketing Coordinator for the entire corporation, is still in her 20s, as is General Manager of Ultra Skin, Alexis Wilkinson. They’ve all worked their way up in the company for years and are thriving in their opportunity to take the reigns. They’ve brought new life to the business and, in typical millennial fashion, are eager to help it evolve.

“James and I started talking and both had the same vision for taking ULTRATAN to the next level,” Murphy says. “Everything changes, and it’s inevitable. You’re either on the train or get left behind. He had talked to me about taking over as CEO, and I said, ‘it’s a lot of work, and I’m ready.’”

Click here to read the entire article in the latest issue of Smart Tan Magazine.