His first day on the job … or as we say around here, his ‘start date’ was July 2nd, 2001. It was literally the exact center of the year- with 182 days before and 182 days after. Perhaps it was a sign of sorts; for this man, Thomas (aka Tom) Hornyak would be a central, pivotal figure in our Tri-Cities Office for many years.
To know Tom was to love Tom. A ready smile, affable, always ready to lend hand. A thinker, he probably could have been an engineer. He truly enjoyed fixing things, finding a way to ‘make it work’. Tom was a veteran of the United States Air Force. Following his military service he worked in various trades. He had an associate degree in electronics. Tom could fix practically anything. Folks at the church he attends would come to him for repair advice on – you name it – appliances, motorcyles, automobiles, small engines, etc,.. At 54 years old he was not your typical ‘new guy’ when he came aboard UES.
He started out accompanying service techs and installers, ‘to learn the trade’. In fact, on that fateful day, September 11, 2001, he and I were together attending a progress meeting for two elevators we were installing at the Mountain Home Veterans Administration. It didn’t take long to see that Tom was quite adept at ‘picking up the trade’. One of his first projects as a lead man, was the installation of a couple of LULA elevators in Jacksboro, TN. While this was a successful venture, we realized that Tom’s abilities would better be used as a troubleshooter as an adjuster.
As time went on, and we got to see Tom’s skills and knowledge unfold. Here in the Tri-Cities office, we leaned on his expertise more and more. He served as our adjuster for many years. Of which he did an outstanding job. Whenever a technician got in jamb, needed help – the common refrain; ‘Call Tom’. Even in later years, when Tom served as a route technician, everyone – service techs and installers alike would all, ‘Call Tom’.
For those of us who had the opportunity to work with Tom in the field, it was truly a privilege. Tom was more than a coworker – he was a friend, a father figure, someone you could confide in, learn from. Oh the stories we could tell! Tom was and is a people-person. Really, I don’t think he ever met a stranger. His love for his family runs deep and steadfast.
We all knew that at some point, Tom would retire. Father time eventually catches up with all of us. It seemed so quick. After 20 years of faithful service with United Elevator Services, Tom retired.
Tom, if you get the chance to read this, I’ll be straight with you – We miss you Buddy! Trust that you enjoy your days ahead. Do what you like to do; woodworking, fishing – or just fixing things!
To all our United Elevator family; if you need to know how something works, or perhaps you just want to have a good palaver … ‘Call Tom’.