This week and next, we’re profiling the members of the Fast Trackers Class of 2015.
William Tomko III
President and CEO
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W.G. Tomko Inc.
As he saying goes, sometimes adversity is what one needs in order to become successful. William Tomko III, president and CEO of W.G. Tomko Inc., will attest to that.
A master plumber by training, Tomko said one of the biggest challenges he faced was the Great Recession, which took a toll on the construction industry.
“We did not do well,” he said, adding his company, a family owned mechanical contracting firm based in Washington County, came close to making significant structural cuts that would have made it a smaller business. But it persevered, and emerged as a stronger operation, he said.
“It was probably one of the best things that ever happened to us, but it was one of the worst things that ever happened to us,” Tomko said. “I really learned a lot through that experience. I learned to never take jobs that you’re not ready for and jobs that there’s not a lot of profit in.”
Tomko has been running the family business since January 2007, when he was named president. But his history with it dates back to sixth grade, when he’d spend his summers working in the shop.
He said that for him there was no question that he would work anywhere else. While attending high school, he began an apprenticeship program with Pittsburgh Plumbers Local Union 27, which he completed in 1996.
His first formal roles with the business were as a foreman and project manager. After serving in those capacities for six years, he was promoted to senior project manager in 2001.
Tomko continued moving up, becoming vice president in 2004 and executive vice president a year later.
Today he is at the helm of a diversified company that employs more than 400.
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“We want to be the best,” he said.
To that end, he said the company is committed to learning from mistakes.
He said the recession forced the company to reinvent itself and diversify.
The firm specializes in plumbing, HVAC and design-build projects, but it also fabricates certain pieces of equipment for use in the pipeline side of the oil and gas business. It has a trucking division that delivers equipment and materials. It also has a facility services division that is on call 24 hours a day.
“We’ve added all these different things in case the economy does change,” Tomko said.
Education: Baldwin High School
Experience: Tomko has had several roles at W.G. Tomko Inc., including foreman, senior project manager and executive vice president.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get on the fast track?
Be careful and cautious navigating through industry. There are a lot of challenges. You have to make sure you hire people who are just as hungry as you are.