his MBA from Northeastern.
first job, as a co-op, was with Kennedy & Rossi.
When he graduated from college he re-joined the firm and,
over the next 15 years, progressed through the ranks from
field engineer to an officer of the company.
Linbeck acquired Kennedy & Rossi in 2000, Tom assumed
responsibility for client development in the Northeast
Region, working mainly with clients in the bio-tech and
he joined Commodore.
you gravitate towards the Institutional and Science markets?
There’s a synergy between the markets. The skills, the
systems and the knowledge required to succeed all create a
barrier to entry for others, so specializing is a
benefit…but the real draw for me is the complexity of the
technical components. The unique systems are more exciting
and challenging. And there’s a second aspect of the
institutional market that compels me. It’s the way in which
business is conducted. Committees are often involved in the
decision making process and I like to work in that kind of
inclusive, collaborative way. So, my style meshes well with
the nature of these organizations.
you leave a successful, well-established company to
participate in starting up a new one?
I had my own construction business in college. Every day, my
friend Mark Crowley and I would get out after classes,
framing and building. That business put me through college,
but more than paying the tuition, it was the result of a
desire I’ve always had to grow a company from the ground-up.
I left Linbeck, because it
felt like the right time to do that. I had the energy, the
skill, and the relationships.
you find most satisfying about building a company?
growing this company from the ground-up, so we can do things
the way we think they should be done. That lets us do good
things for our clients and it makes the environment for our
employees better. It comes down to people. The people who
come here to work every day enjoy it. That’s what’s
satisfying to me. Our approach to building is collaborative.
When we help a non-profit reach its objectives, everyone
benefits, from the building and from the experience. I’m
more satisfied when we get a client closer to their ultimate
goal than to the brick and mortar of their building.
key to Commodore’s success?
Our approach. We look at the big picture…not just the
building. If we don’t take responsibility for our clients’
overall success, we’ll just be one of the crowd, on our way
to being a commodity. If we’re viewed as our clients’
partner, we can bring our ties to the community and our
relationships to the table to influence success. At the end
of the day, if Ariad Pharmaceuticals introduces a new
treatment for cancer, and we’ve helped them as their builder
and as an integral part of their team, we’ll all be a
You’re very active with the non-profit hopeFound. What’s the connection that keeps you involved?
When I first got involved with hopeFound, I was focused on helping the organization with the possible relocation of their shelter. I figured that was my area of expertise and I could contribute something valuable. But as I learned more about hopeFound’s mission and grew to know the individual board members, I began to see just how far the organization has come over the last 6 years and their potential for success going forward. I realized that the same strategic planning and operating experience I’ve gained helping Commodore grow, could help hopeFound, too.
So, I’ve become active on the executive committee, as a VP of the board. The position allows me to dig in deeper and work more closely with the organization’s dynamic Executive Director, Mary Nee. Many of the dramatic changes we’ve seen and much of hopeFound’s success has come as the result of her good business sense and her forward-thinking, energizing leadership.
I get professional satisfaction from helping hopeFound grow. But I’ve also experienced a kind of unexpected personal growth from my involvement. There are a lot of good causes in the world. Some of them get attention more easily than others. For instance, homeless children and families tear at the heart…but homeless adults are viewed differently and I’ve been guilty of it myself. The reality is that the plight of homelessness is no different whether you’re a child or an adult. hopeFound’s mission is not only to find housing for people, but to break the cycle of homelessness that prevents adults from getting work and being able to afford permanent housing. They address the underlying issues like drug addiction, mental illness and the lack of marketable skills.
My perception of adult homelessness has fundamentally changed since I began working with hopeFound and that experience has given me the desire to change the perception of others.
you describe yourself?
I’m not the kind of guy who can sit and gaze out the window
and then come up with a brilliant idea. I have to work
things out in my head…consider the options…talk things
through. You won’t see me at the opera. I don’t go to
plays…I’m more of a…well...physical, thrill-seeker type. I
love skiing…driving cars…riding motorcycles and dirt bikes.
My wife rented me a Corvette for 24 hours once. That was
great. My dream is to restore an early ‘70’s Dodge
Challenger with my 3 kids…and to have a 10-car garage.
I don’t have a favorite book…but, my favorite movie is Young
Frankenstein…does that say something about me? I love
crowds…being around people…going out with friends on the
weekend…camping with my family…sitting around the campfire,
smoking a cigar.