LOPCO Contracting has been painting residences in Rhode Island and Southern New England for the past nineteen years. Tom Lopatosky, Jr., founder of LOPCO, spoke with WPRO about his experiences conducting business in the Ocean State.
WPRO: How did you get started in business?
Tom Lopatosky: I got started in business in 1995 as a way to pay for college. I saw others doing it and thought, "I could do that!"
WPRO: What were challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
TL: Some challenges I faced were that I knew very little about the painting business and did not have the experience of many others in the industry from either a technical or a business standpoint. To combat this, I immersed myself in the business - both in the field and from a classroom perspective.
I learned on the job and from others that had much more experience than me. I learned much through trial and error but also have taken a variety of industry related courses (both technical and business-oriented) over the years.
WPRO: What advice would you give to people looking to start a business in Rhode Island?
TL: Run!!! Just kidding.
Despite much of the negativity that our State gets on many different levels, Rhode Island really is an awesome place to run a business! It is. I would suggest that the person looking to start a business know their product/service inside and out and really come to know who their target demographic is and hit them in the head with pointed marketing efforts as strategically as possible. If you do not know what it really is that you are selling or how to get people interested in buying it from you, it is not going to matter where you are starting your business, you are going to have a tough hill to climb!
WPRO: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?
TL: Never, ever, give up!
WPRO: What is your favorite thing about being based in Rhode Island?
TL: Personally, I love the diversity in the people and the landscape. I find that a good portion of people that complain and criticize the State the most, are people that have not had the opportunity to truly venture out and explore much of the rest of the country - many people in Rhode Island, unfortunately, have no idea how good we really do have it!
WPRO: How do you think businesses can contribute to the future of Rhode Island?
TL: For better or worse, I have much more faith in the business community playing a major role in contributing towards getting Rhode Island's overall economy back on track than I do the political community. It would be great if the business and political community could work together more to get things done.
Due to special interests and similar realities of this nature in our State, however, our businesses are going to have to figure out a way to get things going from an economic standpoint in spite of the political community and not necessarily in partnership with it. As much as I wish that this were not solely the case, private business is what is going to resurrect the State.
My only hope is that people in office and in positions of political power, some how, some way, will keep politics as minimally intrusive as possible in the interests of allowing business to get this done. Time will certainly tell...
Find out more about LOPCO here.
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