CINCINNATI (July 6, 2022) — Tom Kirkpatrick believes in being a force for good, and that passion is rooted in his father’s words and his church’s teaching. The president and CEO of Eco Engineering is a longtime supporter of United Way, which he views as the leading local philanthropic organization because of its strategic approach and high return on investment.
When Tocqueville Society member Tom Kirkpatrick discusses how he acquired his giving spirit, he points to two personal experiences. The first dates to his youth, when his father took him on Boy Scout camping trips.
“Dad would say, ‘We need to leave the campsite better than we found it.’
“I would say, ‘You mean we need to leave it as good as we found it.’
“Then he explained his belief that each of us must contribute to making the world a better place.”
Fast forward a couple of decades. Tom was an ambitious young Procter & Gamble employee. His charitable giving was quite modest, “and if you had asked me to do some volunteer work, I would have said, ‘I’ll do that when I’m retired.’
Then he attended an Episcopal Church stewardship conference and was moved by a presenter who talked about the gifts God bestows and the importance of tithing. “I came back and sat down with my wife and three kids and said, ‘We have to focus more on giving back to the world and the community. It’s not OK to just focus on career and family.’”
Today, Tom still abides by his father’s wisdom and his church’s teaching.
His introduction to United Way came via P&G’s workforce campaigns. “As I learned more about United Way’s work, and the fact that it strategically approaches the needs of the community and funds organizations that are delivering the best business results – that’s what cemented my passion for United Way,” he says.
That passion continued when Tom became a business owner.
In 1998, he bought the assets of Eco Engineering, which had five employees and revenues of about $500,000. It now has 100 employees and expects revenues of $100 million this year. The lighting and solar contractor provides commercial customers with green energy-saving solutions that not only lower operating costs but also are good for the planet, which is consistent with what his father taught him.
“I think corporations are like people,” Tom says. “They can either be selfish, focused only on return on equity, creating the most shareholder value. Or a corporation can strive for a nobler purpose...and be one of the good guys.”
As president and CEO, Tom established the vision for his company as “a force for good.” He encourages his employees to give back to the community. Indeed, during the past year’s United Way campaign, the company saw 100% participation.
What’s more, several times in recent years Eco Engineering has held annual company meetings at United Way partner agencies, afterward providing pro bono services. For example, at a Freestore Foodbank location, employees retrofitted the building with lighting (donated by Eco Engineering) that annually saves the agency thousands of dollars in electricity costs.
When it comes to personal giving, Tom and his wife, Sue, donate to a variety of nonprofits. “I want to make sure we’re getting the highest return on investment,” Tom says. “I look at United Way and the people I’ve met and the work they’re doing, and I’m convinced United Way is top on the list for organizations locally.”
He acknowledges that the problems of our region and world can sometimes seem overwhelming, but the answer, he says, lies with people thinking beyond themselves, and asking: Am I doing something to be a personal force for good and to make a difference in the world?