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Home | DALLAS / FORT WORTH | Spotlight | Spotlight - Dale Vith and Tom Tepecik, Owners, D & K Electric

Spotlight - Dale Vith and Tom Tepecik, Owners, D & K Electric

image Dale Vith & Tom Tepecik Owners D & K Electric

DALLAS/FT WORTH - When Dale W. Vith and Tom K. Tepecik established D&K Lighting 20 years ago, the deal was sealed with only a handshake – a rarity in the contract-obsessed construction industry. Since then, their trust in each other has grown to include their team, many of whom they helped to make a fresh start in life.

 

 

 

    Vith and Tepecik took different paths to the electrical industry. Vith, whose dad was an electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, started in the union as a 17-year old warehouse man. Vith went on to earn his journeyman and masters licenses before starting his own electrical business at age 25. Tepecik left his electrical engineering studies at the University of Texas at Arlington to learn the electrical trade. He soon became hooked and started his own company as well.
    Vith’s younger brother introduced them, and after Tepecik helped out on one of Vith’s jobs, the two stayed in touch. They soon became intrigued by the idea of starting a pole lighting company together, and in 1998 they formed “D&K Lighting” using “D” for Dale and “K” for Tom’s middle initial.
    “The funny thing was, we bought a truck at an auction, and when we went into the business office, they asked how we wanted to title the truck,” Tepecik remembers. “Neither of us wanted it in our company name for liability reasons, so we got an assumed name and came right back with this third company we’ve created, ‘D&K Lighting,’ so we could title this truck. That business has taken over both of our other businesses in the past 20 years.”
    As for the handshake their business was built on, the trust between the two men ran deep from the beginning.
    “It’s hard to find somebody that has the character, qualifications and integrity to go into business with,” Vith says. “It’s an extremely rare find.”
    “It’s rare to find two guys who can start a business, deal with millions of dollars worth of assets and jobs, and never have to worry about the other guy,” Tepecik adds.
    Today, D&K Lighting offers full-range electrical for commercial projects and also provides new construction and service work for residential projects. While the company is mostly known for restaurant work, it is quickly gaining a reputation for something else.
    “Lately, many of our new customers are putting together mining facilities, which are basically server rooms that require a new electrical installation to run servers that work with cryptocurrency,” Tepecik says. “Over the last 18 months, we have been getting customers like that that we have never gotten before. Bitcoin has had a big run; who knows what it will do in the future?”
    In addition to expanding D&K Lighting’s scope, Tepecik and Vith have grown the heart of the company. Both men are committed to hiring and mentoring employees seeking a second chance in their lives. It started as a pay-it-forward promise Tepecik made to Humphrey & Associates executive vice president Randy Humphrey, who hired Tepecik when he needed his own fresh start. To make sure the promise can be kept, the business partners are cognizant of keeping the company a smaller, manageable size.
     “We’re very involved,” Tepecik explains. “We’re not sit-in-the-office owners. We work with our guys, and we have a mentoring program. We have to be one-on-one with our customers and our employees and in constant contact with them. In order to do that, we have to stay small and active in the field.”
    Vith and Tepecik enjoy bonding with their team members outside of work. With Vith being an avid hunter and Tepecik dedicated to fishing, their employees have many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Vith and Tepecik, however, ensure these outings are geared toward each employee’s health and benefit.
    “These trips are rather untraditional,” Tepecik explains. “A lot of these guys are in recovery, so they are sober hunting and fishing trips. There is not a case of beer on the boat; it’s just a bunch of friends getting together, going out, having fun and spending time together. We give them some experiences that they haven’t had before from the places that they’ve come from. It’s mainly for these guys to see that they can have some fun in sobriety.
    “Dale and I talk all of the time about how rewarding it is to have kind of a front row seat to these guys recreating their lives,” Tepecik continues. “There are guys that we’ve had in the past that used to sleep on floor grates because they were homeless, and they now run their operation off of a boat in Boston Harbor. There has been huge success in our wake with the guys that we’ve trained. That’s the most fun for us, and it’s going to be the hardest thing to walk away from one day.”
    Compassion seems to be what Vith and Tepecik value most in each other.
    “In regards to the way we try to bring people in the company who need help, I think what Tom brings to the table is that he is very active with the City of Dallas,” Vith says. “He is down at the jail for Monday meetings to talk to people who are having problems but want to change their lives. They’re at a point where they realize that they are looking for a way out and are willing to listen to options of how they can improve their lives – not to necessarily be electricians, but just options in general. He brings that compassion and information from years of experience of being in that world to help a lot of people.”
    “When I met Dale, and from the start of this business, he has brought integrity,” Tepecik says. “I’ve also found that Dale has compassion. He’ll never tell you the stuff he does for other people; he’s very private about the charity work that he does. I have found out years later about an elderly woman’s fence that he put up for free and other things like that that other people might tell me. You don’t find guys like that all of the time. He’s become like a brother to me. I look forward to coming to work every day, and he’s a big part of that.”
    Vith and Tepecik also have immense respect for each other’s electrical talents.
    “I’ve had a lot of guys tell me that they have worked a lot of places, but that we were the best electricians that they have ever worked with,” Tepecik says. “We care about what we do. It’s not just about making money. It’s about leaving our community a better place. The things that make us the happiest are the guys telling us they’re grateful that we’re able to change their lives, and our customers telling us these guys came in and did a great job. That’s a good day for me if I get those kind of compliments.”
    D&K Lighting celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and the business partners say retirement is likely a decade down the road. Tepecik says they want to continue to develop their employees and customers. Vith says determining succession is also a priority.
    “I think we’re going to stay involved with the company because of the platform that we’ve made at this point,” Vith says. “I think our concern is identifying the strongest people that we have that could possibly move into a position of leadership with our company, so we can step back and keep the machine going.
    “We both have children and we think, ‘Well, maybe we can put them at the helm of it,’ but it takes a special person to want to do electrical work,” Vith continues. “It’s something you don’t just jump into; it takes years of experience and grooming to get somebody to be good enough at what they do in the electrical industry. We feel like we have that with some of the people that we have here and we prefer to take people that don’t know anything and teach them our ways of doing electrical. We feel like that is something that has never gone out of style at our company. That’s the excitement here, or at least it has been for the past 20 years.”
    Subcontractor D&K Lighting is in Richardson. –mjm


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Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net