With a wife and four children to take care of, electrician Thomas Pacchioli had an epiphany: Why wait for his employer to find more hours for him to work when he could start his own company and make his own? Pacchioli started Pacman Electric in South Florida in 1999 with just a single truck. As the only employee, Pacchioli was responsible for all day-to-day operations. Twenty-two years later, Pacman Electric has grown to 65 employees, handling jobs as big as hospitals. Thomas Pacchioli serves as President, and one of his three sons has come on board as Vice-President. All this success hasn’t been easy; however, he continues to abide by the simple code that has served his business well: Satisfy the customers, do what you say you’re going to do at the price you quote, say you’re going to be on time and if you’re running late, call the customer. That simple agenda has worked for twenty-two years and will continue to work as long as Thomas Pacchioli resides in in Fort Lauderdale and is running the show.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
Building things. I enjoy the relationships that have come with this job but there’s something about the satisfaction of completing a project. We’ve done big restaurants, hospitals, and the diversity of what we’re asked to build is challenging and fun.
What keeps you motivated?
Keeping my employees busy and working. They all have families. That motivates me to continue to come up with better ideas, streamline the way we do things to keep the prices down, and bring in more work to keep everyone employed.
How do you motivate others?
We build relationships with everyone and have regular meetings where we share information and keep people informed of where we’re going. Of course, we also try to motivate with bonuses. I always say, “If we’re making it, you’re getting it!” If we get bonuses for bringing in a job early, they get their share. We let them know they’re a part of everything, and we let them know there’s advancement if they stay and work hard.
How has your company grown from its early days to now?
It went from me and a van to completing big jobs like hospitals. We have approximately 65 employees now. I just bought an office behind the office we’re currently in because we’re expanding. That’s a big jump from just me being on the job and my wife at home taking calls while she’s taking care of the baby. The training, interviewing, and really learning to delegate was a big step, because then I was able to bring in the right people. Once I learned to delegate, it changed everything.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My dad was an executive chef for forty-five years, and his work ethic was second to none. I think that’s where I got mine. You know what they say, “You do what you love and you don’t work a day in your life.” That was my dad.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
I delegate. Early on in my business, I didn’t have that skill. Things would happen and I was running all the jobs and I’d get calls at night and I would run out to fix things. I was coaching my boys in football at the time, and they noticed I was working too much, and approached me about it. I took it to heart, and we started working on it. Now, I limit my work. I’m not in the office past a certain time. Plus, I go to the gym early in the morning before work with my three sons.
What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?
Really listening to my people makes me a successful leader. A boss can talk and talk about what they’re going to do, but then they forget to listen. Your people pick up on that real quick if you are not paying attention to what they’re saying. You listen to them and let them have their say and actually converse with them. I’m not saying you always go their route, but at least give them your ear.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Educate yourself on the codes, insurance laws, workman’s comp and OSHA laws. It’s easy to step into it by accident, just by being naïve about it. You have to become an attorney, almost.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Getting my children through college. It was a big deal to earn all that money. They’ve all done well for themselves. My first owns a Northwestern Mutual office down in Miami. My second child got his criminal justice degree and planned to be a policeman and then FBI, but one day he came to me and said he wanted to work with me, which thrilled me. He’s my Vice President. He does great. My third boy is with Northwestern Mutual also, and my daughter is finishing up her master’s degree at Moody Bible Institute.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
Balance work and family. I’ve seen many families destroyed with business owners. If you have a successful company and your family falls apart, what’s the point? If you can make that balance a part of your working life early, then it becomes a habit and you can avoid falling into that trap.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I’m with my family a lot. I work out with my boys. We ride motorcycles and ski together, and we play golf together. That’s my life outside of work.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
Our goal is to expand to double our size in the next five years. We’ve put good people in place, we have our strategy meetings, we’ve interviewed and hired the best people. We’ve added another office space. Of course, I’ll start reducing my role as soon as my son starts adding more and more.