University of Rochester

Advancement Awards

Richard T. Aab

Richard T. Aab

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Mr. Richard T. Aab is an international entrepreneur and the chief executive officer of Idea Boxx, a company dedicated to conceptualizing, designing, and manufacturing products that improve and make a positive impact on productivity for businesses across industries. Over the last 40 years, his visionary leadership has fueled the success of his 15 companies, spanning a broad spectrum of industries including telecommunication services, software development, wealth advisory and management, energy consulting and resale, payroll, health care, and innovative design and development. Mr. Aab is a passionate spokesperson on behalf of medical research, and remains an active philanthropist committed to educational initiatives and our world community.

A graduate of Clarkson College, Mr. Aab earned his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1971 and began his career as a financial analyst at Stromberg Carlson the following year. He joined Merrill Lynch in 1974 as an investment representative where he received world-class training in the field of wealth management. In 1979, after building a successful client practice at Merrill Lynch, he was recruited to become a vice president of investments at Paine Webber, where he remained for three years, subsequently selling his investment practice. In 1982, Mr. Aab founded ACC Corp., which became his first telecommunications public company in 1985. He established ACC’s Canadian subsidiary and took ACC Telenterprises, Ltd. public in 1993. He later re-acquired and merged the two companies which, along with ACC’s United Kingdom subsidiary, were purchased for $1.2 billion in 1998 to become part of AT&T.

Over the course of the next three decades, Mr. Aab went on to found or co-found nearly a dozen additional businesses, creating thousands of jobs and significant wealth for his employees and shareholders. In 1996, he co-founded US LEC Corp., a telecommunications company that he took public and grew to $425 million in revenues, servicing 28,000 business customers in 115 markets with more than 1,100 employees. He facilitated the merger of US LEC and PAETEC LLC, a private telecommunications company, enabling the newly combined PAETEC entity to become a NASDAQ listed company in 2007. He became vice chairman and a director of the board at PAETEC, where he remained until the company was acquired by Windstream Corp for $2.3 billion in 2011. In 2001, Mr. Aab diversified his business portfolio with the creation of E-CHEX Inc., a payroll solutions company that grew to service more than 10,000 businesses nationwide. E-CHEX, now Ovation Payroll Systems, was acquired by Heartland Payment Services Inc. in 2012. Today, Mr. Aab is the CEO of four start-up companies, three of which — Hydra Rinse LLC, ProNatural Brands, and United Sources Sought, Inc. — germinated from Idea Boxx, where he also currently serves as CEO.

A longstanding supporter of the University of Rochester, Mr. Aab is an engaged volunteer for the University and its medical center. He is an active University trustee, a board member of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), and served as the co-chair for URMC’s successful $650 million campaign. He has volunteered his time serving on the Health Affairs Committee, the Research and Innovation Committee, and the Financial Planning Committee, among others, and his generous contributions to the University reflect his dedication to medical research, benefiting the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Golisano Children’s Hospital, and Strong Memorial Hospital. In 2007, the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute was named in his honor in recognition of his leadership support and extraordinary commitment to the Institute’s mission. In addition to his University involvement, Mr. Aab has also served as a trustee of the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Greater Rochester area public broadcasting station, WXXI. He remains an active fundraiser and advocate for numerous charities and organizations throughout the community.