Businessman has a significant music career on the side

April 2004

Joe McCarthy.

While residents of some areas of the country are lucky enough to be bathed in sunlight for the better part of the year, Joe McCarthy ’85 knows firsthand that northeasterners who want to maintain their sun-kissed glow beyond summer have to hit the tanning booth.

That’s because, for the past eight years, McCarthy has served as controller of Tanning Bed, the largest operator of tanning facilities in the United States.

After graduating from the UB School of Management with a degree in business administration and a concentration in accounting, McCarthy successfully completed his CPA licensure exam. He then worked as a registered accountant for a number of companies, including a five-year stint in the Buffalo office of Deliotte and Touche. But it was when he joined Tanning Bed in 1995 that he really found a true home for his business ambitions. Since that time, he has played an integral role while the company has expanded to become the industry leader it is today. What started as a single operation in the Buffalo suburb of West Seneca has now expanded to 31 locations across New York State. "And more are on the way," he says.

McCarthy credits much of his success to the rigorous training he received from UB’s accounting faculty. "The accounting program at UB is very competitive," he explains, "it is difficult to get into and, once you are in, it’s a little like boot camp." The hard work had its benefits, however: "I know I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I have without the training I received at UB."

But it hasn’t been "all work and no play" for McCarthy. Once he had his career path firmly established after graduation, he decided to pursue some of the other interests that he never had time to explore while in school. One of those interests was music–specifically, the guitar. "I took an adult education class in guitar instruction at Sweet Home High School right across the street from UB," McCarthy explains, "and things just kind of took off from there." After many hours of practice he developed a certain level of confidence in his guitar-slinging ability and was itching to try his hand at performing live for local audiences. So, in 1989 he formed the band "McCarthyizm" with his brother Kevin.

Originally conceived as an acoustic trio, the group cut its teeth playing before small audiences at coffeehouses and bars throughout Western New York. Since those relatively humble beginnings, McCarthyizm has bloomed into a full-fledged modern pop-rock band that has toured extensively throughout the northeast, including several stops in Boston, Cleveland, New York City, Pittsburgh, and Toronto. Along the way, the band has kept some impressive onstage company, sharing bills with such national acts as Crash Test Dummies, the Goo Goo Dolls, the Smithereens, Spirit of the West, and 10,000 Maniacs. McCarthy wears several hats in the band, including chief songwriter and band manager. Today, McCarthyizm has four CD releases under its belt, with their most recent, entitled "Pair O’ Docs", earning "Best Recording" at the Buffalo Music awards. But McCarthy is not content to sit and rest on his laurels: "I’m working on three different recording projects right now; there’s always too much to do, and not enough time."

When he’s not keeping a close eye on Tanning Bed finances or plotting his band’s next move, McCarthy enjoys spending time at his home in Amherst, New York with his wife Kim and their two children, daughter Jillian and son Dylan.

For more information about Tanning Bed and McCarthyizm, visit and, respectively.

Written by Kevin Corbett