Alum and U-M nuclear engineering grad says he was ‘young, dumb and naïve’ back in high school. But even though his life has had a few twists and turns since then — including some very heartbreaking — he still believes he’s ‘blessed,’ in large part because of Notre Dame.
Mike Locricchio, a 1970 graduate of Notre Dame High School, co-owns Metzler Locricchio Serra & Company, P.C., a CPA firm that specializes in closely held entities and their owners. It will celebrate 34 years in business in November. But if you told Locricchio 47 years ago at his graduation from Notre Dame that he would one day make a good living in accounting and finance, he likely would have said you were bonkers.
Yes, he always was good with numbers — math was a favorite subject in high school — but his career goals skewed toward engineering.
First of all, as Locricchio pointed out during a recent interview with the Notre Dame Alumni Association, despite an excellent education at Notre Dame, he considered himself to be “young, dumb and naïve” when he finished high school. But he also thinks that if he wasn’t young, dumb and naïve for nearly half his life, he wouldn’t be where he is now.
“And I wouldn’t have made as many of those crazy twists and turns,” he said.
After graduation from Notre Dame, Locricchio entered Western Michigan University and got into its pre-engineering program. He eventually transferred to the University of Michigan after two years at WMU.
“I still wasn’t sure which engineering program to get into even after two years of college,” he said. “At U-M, I was going to room with my NDHS classmate Paul Fessler for the next two years, and I remember him saying to me that he was in the nuclear engineering program and that I should give it a try. So I did. Remember, I was young, dumb and naïve.”
It may seem like a stretch to call someone like Locricchio, who finished near the top of his class at NDHS, “dumb” by any measure. He himself acknowledges that Notre Dame did provide him with an extraordinary education that prepped him very well for his post-secondary education as well as a career afterward.
“Many of the teachers I had at ND I still remember well,” he said. “They most certainly prepared me for college: Mr. Raymond, Mr. Cackowski, Mr. Schram, my algebra teacher, Roy Johnson. However, Jim Berch pushed me the most. I had him for calculus I and II and computer programing and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I vividly remember Mr. Berch approaching Fessler and me to get involved with some kind of special project.”
Locricchio graduated from Michigan in the spring of 1974 with a degree in nuclear engineering. His buddy Fessler also graduated with a nuclear engineering degree and went on to obtain his master’s in nuclear engineering. Fessler currently works as a senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at DTE Energy.
“I was hired by Consumers Power (now Consumers Energy) as a staff engineer at their Palisades nuclear plant on Lake Michigan,” Locricchio said. “My first day on the job, however, didn’t start out so well. I entered a containment vessel with a senior engineer to crawl around and take a look inside. When I came out, they said I couldn’t go back in for a few days because I had a ‘little bit’ of an overexposure to radiation. I actually didn’t think it was a big deal. Remember, young, dumb and naive!”
On to law school
Locricchio was at Palisades for about four months when he found out he was accepted at the University of Detroit School of Law.
“So, of course, I decided to attend law school. Yep, young, dumb and naïve. . .”
Locricchio took every tax course that the law school offered and was planning to practice tax law. In April of 1977, he graduated from U-D Law and passed the bar later that summer.
He recalls one of his tax professors at U-D saying that he should try to get a job at one of the “big eight.”
“I asked him who or what that is,” Locricchio said. (‘young, dumb and naïve’) “He said I should go to one of the big eight ‘accounting firms’ and work in their tax department. So I opened the Yellow Pages and sent a resume to all eight, a move that eventually landed me a job at the Detroit office of Touche Ross & Co, now known as Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.”
While at Touche, Locricchio earned his CPA and continued to work there for another five years before he and two other CPAs from Touche decided to venture out on their own. In 1983, Metzler Locricchio Serra & Company, P.C., opened an office first in Birmingham and then in Troy, its current location.
Family and friends first
“While working at Touche, I also was handling the tax and accounting work for my dad’s many businesses on the side,” he said. “But I felt I needed to leave the company in order to give me more time with my family. It was a struggle for the first five to seven years and I probably wouldn’t have done it if I knew it was going to take that long to see daylight. My wife was always supportive with whatever I decided to do no matter what. Remember, I was young, dumb and naïve, and she knew it!”
But this would be the last time he was young, dumb and naïve, he said.
A year after Locricchio started his own firm, his 3-year-old daughter, Lauren, was diagnosed with Wilms tumor cancer, a cancer of the kidney that primarily affects children. Lauren had her kidney removed and then went through radiation and chemo for the next three years.
“I am very happy to say she is still with us and will turn 36 next week,” Locricchio said. “She actually is a supervisor at my firm and has been working for us for almost 15 years.”
Locricchio and his wife have two daughters: Lauren, and Alexandra, who will be 35 in December. “They are to the day 18 months apart — and all the credit for how they’ve turned out goes to my wife, Chris,” he said. “I wasn’t the disciplinarian in the family — I wore the white hat and my wife wore the black hat.”
Locricchio said he dated his wife for five years before they were married in 1977. Then, sadly, after nearly 39 years of their marriage, Chris passed away on April 6, 2016.
“Wow, do I miss her! I was with her for almost 45 years. She was diagnosed in the summer of 2014 with scleroderma, which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the lungs and heart, and after almost two years of struggling with her breathing, she passed away.”
Now blessed with three grandchildren, Locricchio, who lives in Clinton Township, remains busy with work and with family and friends, many of whom go back to his Notre Dame High School days.
“My memories of NDHS are endless,” he said. “It would probably take another hour or two to go over all of them. From the M-80 that Danny Giangrande threw outside the drafting-room window to graduation night, which I won’t go into, to the parties on Sunday after football games, and on and on.”
Locricchio said this interview also got him thinking of all the clients he currently serves who are fellow NDHS grads. “From the Class of 1968, about five to eight alums,” he said. “From 1969, about five to seven; from the Class of 1970, at least 20 to 30, from 1971 through 1980, probably 20 to 30.
“Plus, at least once a year I still see about 15 to 20 Notre Dame alums,” he said. “Budd Scheele, Greg Sadowski, Paul Fessler, Jim Sheridan, Joe Mazzenga, Bill Lantzy, Rick Schanta, Jim Hewson, Terry Miller and his numerous brothers, Tim, Tom, etc., Chris Marzolf’s widowed wife and son (Chris passed away in 1976), Frank Migliazzo, Terry Bulgarelli. Well, enough of that for now. . .
“I feel pretty blessed to have a career that allows me to keep in touch with all those guys. They all are great, very supportive friends! How much more blessed can a guy be!”
Locricchio reiterated the fact that he believes NDHS most certainly gave him the initial educational chops to succeed and to obtain the successful career that he now enjoys.
“But,” he said, “the friendships that I made during my time at Notre Dame is the best part of graduating from that school. Especially over the last year or two with my wife’s passing, all my Notre Dame friends have stepped up and given me the support and love that I really need at this time. Besides my family, it’s those guys from NDHS who mean the most to me now!”
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Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.