Small Business of the Year Spotlight: TUDI Mechanical’s ‘Unfinished business’

Company Stats

Name: Tudi Mechanical

Established: Pittsburgh in 1987; Tampa in 2007

Tampa manager: Robert Tudi Jr.

No. of employees in Tampa: 55

Year won Tampa Bay Chamber’s Small Business of the Year: 2015

Tudi Mechanical is a family owned business, based out of Pittsburgh, PA. Established by Robert Tudi in 1987, it provides commercial heating and air conditioning mechanical services.

“The story goes, it started with $4,000 and a pickup truck,” says Robert Tudi Jr., “For the most part, I grew up in the business and was very familiar with that pickup truck.”

Tudi Mechanical moved into Tampa in 2007. Tudi was stationed at MacDill Air Force base in 2006, so when the Tampa operations were up and running, he stepped into a leadership role with the company though, he says, he avoids all the titles.

In 2014, Tudi and his team went through the process of the Tampa Bay Chamber’s Small Business of the Year program.

They didn’t win.

“After the first year, I wanted a ‘one and done’ because of the amount of effort required,” Tudi says. “I felt a little dejected at the ceremony and our team, which was there expecting to win, came up to me afterwards and they said, ‘We have to do this again.’ At that point, I knew we had to. We were going to go after it. That year our motto was ‘unfinished business.’”

In 2015, Tudi Mechanical finished that business and took home the coveted award.

“It’s something that we’re proud of,” Tudi says. “Something that we wanted to do to support individuals that have mechanical abilities. I really saw a change in our technicians during the Small Business of the Year [process]. It was a painful process, going through it. But when we stood up on that stage, it was like, wow, we’re really doing something.”

He adds that the sense of pride felt by him, and his team, was an adrenaline rush that one seeks over and over again.

The Tampa Bay Chamber’s Small Business of the Year process is notoriously challenging, in that it forces a business to really find out what its purpose is and measure how well it’s succeeding in that purpose. If there are cracks in the foundation, it’s impossible to hide it.

“It really helped us develop our narrative in a concise manner, one that we could articulate not just to people within our industry that understand the different nuances and acronyms in the way that we speak, but for folks outside of that,” Tudi says. “We created that language and we use that in a lot of marketing collateral. Moving forward, we were able to present a lot of information that we created during that process.”

His advice to would-be SBOY winners? Seek out advice of outside organizations. He includes those in industries radically different than your own, marketing executives, attorneys, etc. In addition, previous winners and past judges.

“It’s amazing how many people will be willing to give you feedback,” he says.

It’s not a process to “phone-in” if your intention is to win. Nor should it be.

“I think the amount of effort that you put into it made it that much more fulfilling,” Tudi says.  “It can be intimidating. I know that there’s a lot of companies out there that try it one time and don’t get past the next phase. So just kind of take your time with it. Be patient, enjoy it. And, eventually, I think everyone will have a shot to win.”



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