CEO Of Chicago-Based Hardware Company Goes Undercover As Employee

CHICAGO (CBS) — When it comes to going undercover, the boss of one Chicago-based company has a unique advantage. CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports on why the CEO featured on Sunday night’s episode of Undercover Boss is especially cut out for the job.

In real life, he’s a buttoned-up executive, but undercover, he’s a long haired handyman named Lewis Lapresi.

“None of the people that I interacted with for the television show figured out who I was,” he said.

His real identity is John Hartmann, CEO of Chicago-based True Value Hardware. Believe it or not, going undercover and posing as a reality show contestant came easily to him.

“I wasn’t intimidated by that in the least,” he said.

That’s because he started his career as an FBI agent.

“My last field assignment was a long-term undercover assignment in foreign counter intelligence,” Hartmann said.

As an undercover boss, he worked in True Value stores around the country, including one in Glenview where his young supervisor thought he needed to brush up on his people skills, saying that, “he’s really dry like when he’s talking to customers.”

“When you’ve got a guy doing things that he doesn’t normally do on a day-to-day basis, there’s some funny things happening,” Hartmann said.

Although in Boston he was less amused by one employee’s on the job pick up antics, but that was an exception. Hartmann says what he learned as an undercover boss was how really hard his employees work.

“I encountered associates who taught me my job incredibly well,” he said. “No viewer of the show will be untouched by some of these great people.”

You can see John Hartmann Undercover Boss Sunday at 7 p.m. on CBS 2.

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