Tom Hoff, CEO and Founder of One Call Concepts, Becomes Board Chair Emeritus
When Tom Hoff founded One Call Concepts, Inc. (OCC) over 40 years ago, he knew there was opportunity to improve the one-call industry, but he never guessed just how big of an impact he would end up making. From building valuable relationships to developing innovative technologies to demonstrating what a true leader looks like, Tom’s ongoing commitment to damage prevention not only redefined the industry as a whole, it has ultimately resulted in immeasurable numbers of damages prevented and lives saved that continue to grow.
After spending 19 years with the Chesapeake and Potomac (C&P) Telephone Company, Tom saw an opportunity to make an impact in the one-call industry. With his leap of faith, “One Call Concepts” officially incorporated in September 1982. The business was inaugurated by a team of six employees at an office in Hyattsville, Maryland, and a single client – Miss Utility. With this team’s friendly voices answering the phone, OCC took its first call for Miss Utility at 12:01 a.m. on December 15 that same year.
Tom recalls that first year was spent really learning how to run a business. He discovered there were a number of things he didn’t know when it came to business operations, but he took the challenge head on and put in the effort to learn them all while maintaining sight of three principles he held close: customer service, performance, and reliability. He spent 160 nights away from home that year while traveling the country to promote OCC by forging relationships in the industry. Thanks to his commitment, the business grew rapidly.
New clients soon joined OCC. In 1984, OCC received the award to operate the Louisiana DOTTIE (Dial One Time To Inform Everyone) center, and several other centers followed close behind. Today, OCC supports 19 811 centers across the nation, making it the largest provider of damage prevention center services in North America.
Innovative, user-focused technology has always been central to OCC’s success, and the company’s early custom-developed technology pioneered what has become the industry standard today. When one-call systems were operating on assigned grids, Tom and his team identified a need for facility operators to be able to draw irregular shapes around underground utilities or landscapes. This development was combined with tools that OCC created to give similar abilities to excavators to use in identifying their work site. “When we built that and we installed it, some members experienced a 90 percent reduction in the notifications they got. This was hugely economically successful for them,” he shared.
This commitment to innovation has remained unwavering over the past 40 years. OCC remains an industry leader, providing clients with software solutions grown from technologies its team once pioneered. By constantly re-investing in these core technologies and pairing them with experienced and dedicated operations teams, OCC continues to help clients meet their damage prevention goals.
Through it all, Tom has found the most rewarding part of his journey has been “being part of the evolution of the company – from what it was to what it is. We changed with the times.” He believes that the OCC’s true success comes from the people who have supported the company over the years, including several employees that have been with the company for over 35 years.
OCC has attracted team members who are both interested in doing their jobs well and show an active interest in the overall health of the company. “They are not just physically present, but also emotionally engaged in the daily operations. That is the secret to a successful organization. It is great that I was the leader, but you cannot lead if the people do not feel good about what they are doing. In the military, you respect the uniform. In the public sector, you respect the people,” Tom shared.
We wish Tom well as he embarks on a new era of his career, as he takes on the new position of chairman emeritus. This new position provides OCC continued access to the wealth of experience Tom gained during 40 years of leadership while allowing him to prioritize spending more time with his family and enjoying his home in Florida. From everyone here at OCC, thank you, Tom, for everything you’ve done to redefine the one-call industry, damage prevention, and what it means to be a true leader.