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Revolution Moto co-founder Roy Gattinella is using his wide range of experience to teach students, boost SRJC


Roy Gattinella of Santa Rosa describes himself as a "marketing guy, professor and troubadour" on his LinkedIn profile.

But most everyone knows him as the charismatic co-founder of Revolution Moto in Santa Rosa, where he and his wife, Johnna, sell a line of Italian Vespa scooters that has injected Wine Country with a whiff of la dolce vita.

But the engine that really drives this multi-faceted marketing maven is his desire to give back.

"I have strong beliefs in social responsibility," said Gattinella, who has worked as a marketing instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College for the past 12 years. "I teach five courses every semester, and I'm challenged by it every day."

Most recently, Gattinella has been challenged by SRJC President Frank Chong to come up with a new advertising campaign for the campus.

"Roy is a force of nature," Chong said. "He brings great energy, ideas and creative juices that inspire our students."

Chong also asked Gattinella to reinvigorate the college's 30-year-old Small Business Management program.

"I have designed an Entrepreneurship Program, not just to teach about how to be business owners but to find that spark of creativity where great ideas come from," Gattinella said. "It will tie together the junior college, the county, local high schools, private industry, investors and innovators."

According to Sonoma County Economic Development Board Director Ben Stone, self-employment is the wave of the future, especially in Sonoma County, where the median size of a company is six employees.

"Since Roy is an entrepreneur himself, he can speak with experience about the opportunities and the challenges," Stone said. "It takes vision and courage and being able to execute successfully."

Born in 1958, Gattinella grew up in an Italian-American family in a suburb of Philadelphia. His father worked as an engineer for Sun Oil and his mother was a "Life Master"-level bridge player.

Gattinella started jazz piano lessons in 9th grade. By the time he was a junior, he was playing music professionally.

"I made a ton of cash," he said. "That's when I learned how to eat, and what good food was."

While studying political science at Widener College in Chester, Pa., he opened his own retail music store.

"I always wanted to be in the business of music," he said. "We sold drum sets and guitars."

In 1982, Gattinella moved to San Francisco to work for Monster Cable Products, which made recording studio products. In 1984, he landed a job with the pioneering Windham Hill record company, which sent him to get his MBA degree from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont and promoted him to vice president of marketing.

"For the first time, people were buying our label based on the brand, rather than the artist," he said. "It didn't just change people's lives, it was the soundtrack of their lives."

After the company sold in 1995, Gattinella landed a job as a vice president at Capitol Records in Los Angeles, generating revenue from the label's Beatles and Rolling Stones catalog by making anthology CDs. When the peer-to-peer music platform Napster arrived in 1999, he saw the writing on the wall.

"Once the keys to the vault were given to everyone, it killed the record industry," he said. "I resigned a few months later."

Gattinella, who moved to Santa Rosa in 1999 to be closer to his two children, decided to reinvent himself as an academician at SRJC.

In 2002, he invited his second wife, Johnna, to ride motor scooters with him around Florence, Italy. When the couple returned home, they bought their first Vespa.

The couple opened Revolution Moto in 2004 and have never looked back. During the year, they lead scooter tours around Wine Country, stopping at farms, bakeries and wineries along the way.

In his spare time, Gattinella serves on the advisory boards for the culinary apprentice program Worth Our Weight, and for the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.

The keyboardist can also be found playing the Hammond organ at local venues with former Dire Straits guitarist Jack Sonni.

"We formed a band, and we're going to do a lot more gigs," he said. "We do funky roots and dance music."

You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com.