Accomac, VA — Nicholas J. Covatta, Jr., owner of an Eastern Shore nursery and a Norfolk-based equipment company, as well as a dedicated and generous supporter of Eastern Shore education and artistic enterprises, died early Sunday, November 25, 2012, at his home on Folly Creek, just outside of Accomac, Va. He was 66 years old and had been battling cancer for the past year.
Mr. Covatta, a native of Troy, N.Y., and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SB 1968) and Harvard University (MBA 1972), moved to the Eastern Shore in 1980 after purchasing Eastern Shore Nursery of Virginia, a wholesale nursery near Keller, Va. He also co-founded the Atlantis Group in Norfolk, Va., which consists of four Mid-Atlantic operating subsidiaries, including CFE Equipment Corporation.
Before moving to the Shore, Mr. Covatta spent more than a decade working in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and the Middle East as an adviser, strategic consultant, and corporate executive. He served as a senior consultant with Boston Consulting Group, a vice president of Gulf Oil Corporation, a staff executive of General Electric, and an executive vice president of AI International Corporation.
Given his background in business, his newly founded Virginia companies thrived. Asked once what the secret was to building a business, he said: “First, never borrow more money than you can afford to lose. And when you start a business, start it where you have location and distribution factors that constitute a ‘moat’ that possible competitors will find difficult to challenge.”
When he came to the Shore, Mr. Covatta brought with him not just his business expertise, but a deep personal appreciation and love for higher education and the arts; and above all a devotion to his wife and business partner, Robin Rinaca. Together they raised two daughters, Anna and Danielle, and settled into their new home, they had purchased and meticulously restored one of the Eastern Shore’s grandest old homes, Bowman’s Folly (c. 1815), on Folly Creek.