Entrepreneur continues business and philanthropic ventures

Michael Deakin.

Michael D. Deakin ’68 serves as a superlative example of how a degree in business management becomes advantageous in many facets of life. 

Deakin is the owner of Val-Kro Inc., Tonawanda Valve Inc. and Pellets LLC, as well as president of Mighty Auto Parts. Combining these businesses with his years of service as a management consultant, he has amassed more than 35 years of management and consulting experience.

Deakin began his career as a timekeeper at the Chevrolet Division of General Motors in 1962 and attended evening classes at the UB School of Management while working full time. “It was a great experience,” says Deakin. “I was able to integrate what I was learning with what was happening in the business world.”

In 1967 Deakin graduated from School of Management with distinction and went to work as a management consultant for Ernst & Ernst (which became Ernst & Whinney and later, Ernst & Young) in Buffalo. He specialized in general business management, mergers and acquisitions, financial controls, cost accounting, financial and accounting systems and litigation support.

With the addition of more evening classes at UB, Deakin became a CPA in 1972. His climb up the corporate ladder continued and by 1978, Deakin was named a partner.

In 1987 Deakin retired from Ernst & Whinney to become president and CEO of Val-Kro Inc. and later, Tonawanda Valve Inc., both specialty metal finishings businesses that supply original equipment to the auto industry. He also continued his own consulting business with clients such as Rich Products and Marsh & McLennan. Later, Deakin added Tonawanda Valve Inc.

While building his impressive business empire, Deakin married, and he and his wife, Kathy, had four sons. Juggling a large family and a growing business empire required great managerial expertise. Three of his sons, like their father, enrolled at UB.

Sons Kevin and Tim joined Deakin in the family business. Partnering with a colleague, Kevin purchased Mighty Auto Parts, a distribution company, as well. Deakin became the president and major shareholder of the company.

Just a short time ago, a fourth company, Pellets LLC, manufacturer of cut-wire shot and distributor for cast steel and other abrasives, was added to the family business. Deakin has been running Pellets LLC since September 2004. “It has been a great new experience for me because of its international flavor,” said Deakin.

The skills and knowledge Deakin gained at the School of Management and in the field have been a springboard not only for his livelihood, but also for his many philanthropic endeavors. Using his managerial talents, Deakin has served on boards such as the Niagara Frontier Vocational Rehab Center and the Erie County Ad Hoc Committee on Mental Health. He has also served as the commissioner for youth football and baseball leagues.

When confronted with the hearing impairment tinnitus, Deakin not only sought help for his affliction, but also brought his management skills to the nonprofit sector. He became the director of Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center and a trustee for St. Mary’s School for the Deaf.

When asked what he sees himself doing a decade from now, Deakin says, “Personally, I can see myself retired, playing golf and continuing my love affair with classic cars.”

At the 56th Annual UB School of Management Awards Banquet last fall, Deakin was honored for his service to the school. In addition to serving on the board of directors of the School of Management Alumni Association and the advisory council of the UB Center for Hearing and Deafness, he helped to finance the birth of the new Digital Access Program. Thanks to Deakin’s generosity, the coveted School of Management education has become even more accessible. Mike Deakin is a man who has used his education, experience and talent to forge a legacy of dedicated service to others.

Written by Nancy J. Eckerson