Tom Sorley has come a long way since his college days, when he led the University of Nebraska to the Orange Bowl as starting quarterback. Since then he has risen to Chairman/CEO of Rosendin, one of the country’s largest electrical contractors; and was selected the 2019 president of the National Academy of Construction (NAC).
In between these leadership roles Sorley has found time to volunteer and work with various organizations helping youth get involved in the industry. And most recently, he helped secure nearly $60,000 for a team of Rosendin volunteers to travel to Rwanda to build a footbridge in a small community.
For the Rukurazo Footbridge project, Rosendin is working with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), a non-profit that helps improve access to healthcare, education and economic opportunities by building footbridges in isolated communities. The Rosendin team of six engineers and safety experts stayed in Rwanda for 13 days, returning on November 22. As president of the NAC, Sorley assisted in the donation of $59,197 to support the mission.
“Building a footbridge in Rwanda with B2P exemplifies our desire as an organization to support causes that are important to our people,” says Sorley.
Another 2019 highlight for Sorley and Rosendin was the company celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Sorley commemorated the achievement by speaking at all 10 Rosendin anniversary parties across the country.
Sorley took over Rosendin in 1992 when revenues were at $85 million. Since then, he helped increased revenues to more than $2 billion
“Growth in terms of revenue is a by-product of our focus on people, relationships with our customers, and participation in our industry,” says Sorley. “Our inclusive and diverse workforce openly exchanges ideas and engages in intellectual debate to ensure that our focus remains on finding solutions.”
He says business at Rosendin is currently going exceptionally well and the company continues to realize increased volume in almost every sector. “The backlog is at an all-time high for our organization and the future from a ‘get work perspective,’ especially in the short term, looks very bright,” he says.
As current president of the NAC Sorley hopes to continue what Richard Tucker started in 1999 as a founding member of the organization. This includes recognizing industry leaders from the entire spectrum of construction, including owners, designers, construction managers, general and specialty contractors, attorneys, financial managers, labor leaders, suppliers, academics/researchers, and professional/trade associations.
“NAC is a young organization, and during my tenure as President, much of the focus has been to strengthen our structure and financial stability to meet our mission,” says Sorley. “Additionally, NAC might be the best-kept secret in the construction/built environment arena, and we are working to make it more known.”
Sorley and Rosendin are also active with the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC). This professional association, which sponsors an annual electrical challenge for college students, is dedicated to the development and advancement of construction education. Sorley says Rosendin recruits extensively from the schools ASC represents. “To attract the best and brightest to our company, we must first attract them to our industry,” he says. “Our teams are engaged to demonstrate how a career in our industry can be challenging, fulfilling, exciting, and fun.”
Once people make it to the Rosendin team, the company encourages them to climb the ladder by offering incentives such as Rosendin's Leadership Academy, an in-house development program for individuals who have been recognized by the company's executive leadership.
“These individuals exhibit traits that indicate they can provide higher levels of leadership and responsibility within the company in the future,” says Sorley. “The Leadership Academy was developed initially to support our succession planning process and introduce participants to everything from strategic planning, emotional intelligence, understanding and using financial reports, customer focus, risk analysis, technology, and citizenship. I attend every class and personally teach much of the content.”