Seven years in the making, small business owner earns his degree from Rider

Glenn Morreale returned to college as an adult while running a successful business
Adam Grybowski

For much of the past seven years, Glenn Morreale couldn’t go home after work. Wrapping up long days at C&M Auto Parts, the company he incorporated in 1991 and continues to operate as president, he devoted his nights to attaining his education.

“When I commit to something, I’m going to do it,” says Morreale, 46, who is set to graduate from Rider University’s College of Continuing Studies in May with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Management and Leadership. “I had kept it in my mind that I would return one day and it had become a goal of mine.”

Morreale, a husband and father of two teenage sons, has been in business longer than the majority of his classmates have been alive. C&M, a wholesale distributor, grew out of the family business owned by Morreale’s father.

“I grew up in the business,” he recalls, “and when I was 17 or 18, we started downsizing and the business was going away.”

Morreale suspended his studies at Mercer County Community College to get more involved and help revive the flagging enterprise. “The shelving was up, the computers were running and the building was painted, and now we needed someone to be there and open the shop at 7 and close it at 6,” he says. “Without any real conversation with my father, I dropped out of Mercer and assumed that role.”

Eventually splitting from his father to incorporate his own similar business, Morreale grew his company’s sales into the multimillions, he says. He now oversees 58 employees and warehouses in three locations in New Jersey — Trenton, Windsor and Sayreville. During that time, he never let go of his commitment to return to school.

“Here am I running a multimillion-dollar company and I don’t know the first thing about accounting,” Morreale says.

He enrolled at Mercer and earned an associate degree before transferring to Rider’s College of Continuing Studies, which offers courses designed for working adults and others who want to complete the degree they never finished or prepare for graduate school or to simply acquire knowledge for personal or professional benefit.

“Rider opens its arms to people who are older and going back to school,” Morreale says. “They embrace you and welcome you.”

Morreale brought the lessons of his classes and textbooks directly into the experience of running his business. For example, he grabbed the reins to oversee the installation a new accounting system robust enough to satisfy the requirements of his growing business.

“Accounting doesn’t always get a lot of credence when it really should,” he says. “Taking those classes helped me bring reverence to that part of the job and recognize the importance of it. It also helped give me the confidence to know what needed to be done and then go ahead and do it.”

Morreale has attained a grade point average of 3.95, high enough to make him an Andrew J. Rider Scholar, which is given annually to the top 1 percent of seniors, juniors and sophomores in each of Rider’s six academic colleges and schools. He gave a speech at the awards ceremony on April 30, which his family, including his father, attended.

Despite Morreale's lengthy journey to acquire his bachelor’s, he is looking ahead to more education. “My plan is to continue to take a couple classes a year to better myself and brush up on all things where I’m weak,” he says. “Even though I own the business, I always feel I have to perform. People depend on me, and I depend on them.”