Paul Zecchi ’70 returning to Marietta as Founders Day’s keynote speaker

Paul J. Zecchi ’70 enjoys working—maybe too much.

He loved his eight-hour shifts as a bartender three nights a week at Pastime Bowling Alley as an undergraduate at Marietta College in the late 1960s, and he’s even more passionate about his current job as the founder and CEO of Central Resources, Inc., an independent oil and gas company in Denver.

“I love what I do and I love the people I’m affiliated with,” Zecchi said. “Marietta College provided me with some great skills. When I took my first job I wasn’t afraid to get out there and get dirty. Marietta instilled that in me. I love the fact that in the oil and gas industry when you say you graduated from Marietta, you automatically get a nod of respect.”

Zecchi, who hasn’t been on campus since 1972, is excited to return to Marietta College as the keynote speaker at the 177th Founders Day on Feb. 16. The event begins at 7 p.m. in the Alma McDonough Auditorium.

“Paul Zecchi has had a highly successful career in the petroleum business, has distinguished himself for his wide-ranging philanthropy, including projects in Africa and generous support of Marietta College,” Scott said. “I have had the pleasure of getting to know Paul and his wife Patti, also a Marietta College graduate, visiting them in Colorado and Connecticut, and seeing firsthand their passion for Marietta College, its faculty, and the education it provides.”

Zecchi’s choice as the keynote speaker is fitting in a year in which Marietta College’s theme is Energy and Environment. He will also receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during Founders Day.

“Paul is a friend, a trusted adviser, and a very deserving recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Marietta College,” Dr. Scott said. “In a year in which we focus our attention on the subject of energy and the environment, Paul Zecchi’s perspectives will be especially timely and interesting.”

Zecchi has not finalized what he will discuss at Founders Day, but he has a good idea of what he will cover—energy, environment and economy.

“I’m honored that President Scott asked me to do this. This is one of the greatest honors of my life. … I was actually speechless when she asked me,” he said. “I’m going to speak on my views of how those three areas interact and what the outlook is for the U.S. I might ruffle a few feathers, but overall I expect it to be generally pleasing and interesting for the whole group.”

Zecchi, who is married to Patricia A. Kral ’71, founded Central Resources, Inc. in 1988 in Denver, Colo. Central is an independent oil and gas producing and operating company with operations in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, The Netherlands and Canada.

He continues as the majority shareholder and has presided over all corporate functions since the company’s inception. He has also been the lead in Central’s acquisition and divestiture efforts, and Zecchi instituted the company’s international diversification plan in 1997.

Prior to founding Central Resources, Zecchi held various executive, management and engineering positions with Schlumberger Technology Corporation, Parker Drilling and Tenneco Inc. He is the former president of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States and is a member, or former member in many other industry organizations.

Currently, he is a director and/or officer of several corporate and charitable boards. 

The Zecchis also run the Petunia Foundation and have collaborated with a number of relief organizations to assist other agencies in numerous educational projects in Third World countries such as Malawi, Madagascar, The Congo and Nepal among others.

“At some point I hope to step aside from the day-to-day business and Patti and I would love to focus more on our foundation,” Paul said.

After graduating from Marietta with a Bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering, he earned a Master of Science degree in Management Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1979.