What’s next Tom Palangio?
Special Series to SAMSSA
Tom Palangio has taken some leaps. Definitely some were strategic – this next for certain is – and others serendipitous. All of it suggests a plan and path.
When asked what he was like as a kid, and asked to recall what his plans were as a teen, Palangio offered the following: “I was always drawn to art, mechanical, electrical and scientific topics at a time when space was in the news. I’m a real boomer. I liked to build things and take them apart and was resourceful, but never thought I’d earn a living playing with the stuff that interested me. Leonardo da Vinci would be my history hero. My teachers said I was “disruptive” and it took me many years to realize that’s a good thing”.
“Wipware gets its Mojo working at iCamp”
September 2013 Tom Palangio and son Thomas demonstrate a 3D printed “prototype” of the then new Wipware “Solo” unit. Wipware donated the 3D printer and the room it occupies to Canadore College’s iCamp where local businesses develop products using the latest technology. The Mojo printer is great for rapid prototyping to see how things fit, and save time and money on custom machining. Thomas will be the new “Mr. Wipware” when his father steps down from day-to-day operations.
Studying architecture in Ottawa, with design and construction in mind, instead the flipside of building caught his imagination. “I tried Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), Ontario Hydro and then got into dismantling with Dominion Bridge.” Demolitions? “Yes, I was enthralled with possibilities in the explosives industry. Seeing a building or structure come down made me think about how we fabricate things, but also how we can extract and unlock the riches of the treasure-chest of Northern Ontario and elsewhere.”
This passion provided Tom with employment, encouragement, and incentives. He remained current and contemporary, keeping up with change in applications and product. More than 2 and half decades with DuPont and Explosives Technologies International (ETI) delivered him into the midst of gargantuan projects. “My first stop was into Panama for the widening of the Canal. The broad International market plus the patents I held meant I stayed and played in a work environment of mutual respect and agreement.”
Born in Northeastern Ontario it seems mining, minerals, and big industry naturally is part of who he is. “I made my way into the nuclear business. I did a lot of interesting travel… South Africa, as an example, is a land of such contrasts. I was on the Crocodile River (Pelindaba) – the cradle of humankind – and then you look past the shoreline and see the technology (nuclear cooling towers) of the 20th century. I still have a lot of friends in that (nuclear) industry. Great work!”
Tom Palangio believes this is “…one of the better ways to get to work”!
In 1995 Palangio started Topex Inc. – his own explosives consulting firm – and then formed another limited company called Wipware Inc. to commercially market and sell image analysis technology that improves blast fragmentation results. “The explosives business was ‘booming’ and I worked in Peru, Chile, South Africa, Australia and Hong Kong in the next few years providing training, troubleshooting, blast designs, vibration control, high speed camera work and other specialized services.”
With now 11 employees – many virtual – and 16 distributors, Wipware automates process optimization, increasing efficiency and reduces electrical, mechanical, chemical and environmental costs. The equipment is assembled right here: “we’ve been innovative and successful in creating new products to support the mining, aggregate and forestry industry and have received recognition and awards for business development, export trade and outstanding technical achievement… It was quickly adopted by allied industries such as mineral processing and aggregate production as an important tool. Since that time, the company has built a global reputation for excellence in software innovation and design, earning it the trust and loyalty of hundreds of users worldwide.”
“If you can blast to the right size it will save all kinds of expense downstream” – Tom Palangio
Chair, Northern Gateway Branch of the CIM; Director, North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce; Board Chairman, Canadore College; President SAMSSA; Vice Chair, Nipissing University; after 6 years of exceptional leadership Tom Palangio just recently stepped down as Board Chair, NORCAT. “It’s satisfying to know that you’ve helped others realize their dreams and get started in business and it’s good to know that you’ve helped build organizations that will continue to provide support… nice to know you’ve created jobs and made work easier and safer for many. I believe in mentoring newcomers to the world of business because this creates new jobs and I try to participate in organizations that support this.”
What is the next step for Tom Palangio?
“It’s time to ‘pass the torch’ to a younger generation and spend some time enjoying grandchildren, hobbies, travel and friends. I’ll continue to advocate for small business and participate on boards or councils where my experience and network contacts might be useful.”
SAMSSA wishes Tom Palangio success in this next phase of his life!