NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
N G I S C Chicago Meeting, May 20, 1998
MR. TOM COOK, JR.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Mr. Tom Cook, Jr.
MR. COOK: Good afternoon. My name is Tom Cook and I'm here to tell you a success story resulting from the presence of riverboat gaming in Illinois.
I am chief executive officer of D.O. Cook Electric Company which I founded in 1993 and which currently employs 40 full time union electricians, estimators and project managers in addition to a full time office staff of 12. Four years ago I was one of a group of electricians in Aurora Union Hall waiting to be assigned work. Fortunately I was recommended as electrical foreman to supervise the 150 union electricians needed to build Hollywood Casino Aurora's two vessels.
Within eight months the riverboats were complete and Hollywood City of Lights I and II were up and running. From that day on, my phone never stopped ringing. Due to the ongoing work on the vessels, where just about everything is electrical, including the slot machines, lights, surveillance cameras, change machines and player tracking devices, to name a few, I was working as an independent contractor 12 to 15 hours a day, six days a week. A friend suggested that I take the next step for an independent contractor and incorporate my business. There was so much ongoing work at Hollywood that very shortly after I incorporated, I hired my first electrician just so I could keep up.
My biggest break came after about a year and a half, when Hollywood decided to expand its City of Lights I vessel. Because I had been part of their project from the ground up, they really wanted me to work on the expansion. They also understood that as a new business I had limited resources relative to the project and arranged the payment schedules so that my company could receive weekly, rather than customary monthly payouts. This enabled us to have a sufficient cash flow to pay the electricians I needed to hire and purchase the equipment necessary to do a job that size.
City of Lights I expansion was a $3 million job that really put us on the map. The first thing it did was help us establish our credit worthiness, but the most important thing the project did was to give us the opportunity to make a name for ourselves in the industry. A lot of general contractors saw the work we did and knew who the client was. What that meant for us was that within a very short period of time we established big time credibility in a highly competitive industry.
In the last four years I have done a Super Wal-Mart, schools and office buildings. We recently spun off two additional divisions, a nationally franchised residential service division and a voice data division. That division was hired by Chicago's landmark Merchandise Mart to pull the fiber optic lines for high speed data service and was employed by the city of Chicago in the underground freight tunnel system to complete 1.5 miles of electrical conduit work.
As a result of Hollywood casino corporations coming to Aurora, I went in an unbelievably short period of time from being a blue collar worker to being a successful corporate chief executive officer. I hope you will consider my good news story in your continuing deliberations. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you very much.