M A Y W O O D ,   I L L I N O I S



Member Profiles

An On-going Series of Discussions with Maywood Chamber Members.


Q & A


    Get to Know MCC

The Chamber is pleased to bring you its Member Profile series, which is intended to broaden awareness of the special gifts, talents, experiences and insights that members of the Maywood Chamber of Commerce bring to their businesses, customers, the Chamber, and Maywood.  Each interview reveals a little more about the men and women who make our Chamber and community special.  Enjoy.


  (See Member Profile Below.)  



Maywood Chamber of Commerce Member

Tom Engoren

Seaway Supply Company

Full name:

Thomas Jefferson Engoren

Nick name (if any):


Place of Birth:

Lynbrook, New York

High School:

Lynbrook High School


SUNY - New Paltz

Highest Degree:

B.S. - Communications

First Job:        

Newspaper Delivery Person

Biggest Influence (and why):

One of my friends growing up, Billy Donnelly. He put the challenge out there for me to be the best I could be and he genuinely thought I was coming up short, leading me to question how hard I was actually working in college and motivating me to work harder.

Favorite Hobby or Pastime:

Watching the New York Yankees with friends and family.


Q & A with Tom Engoren




Each Interviewee provides written responses to questions prepared by webmaster, Dan Perkins.  Responses may be edited to enhance readability.


When did you purchase Seaway, how did you know that a janitorial supply distribution company was the right fit for you?  Had you had prior experience in providing janitorial supplies to businesses?


I purchased Seaway Engineering Supply in 1994; and changed the name to Seaway Supply Company.  When I purchased the company, Seaway was a distributor of two industry leading brands: Advance Cleaning Equipment and Spartan Chemical. Since that time, my team and I have worked to expand the product lines considerably.

Before I purchased Seaway, I worked for a wholesale paper distributor, selling paper products to businesses.  I was drawn to the building and industrial supply worlds because I saw them as possessing great possibilities - and I still do.  Everyday is spent learning something new.



Has owning Seaway allowed you to achieve a comfortable work-life balance?  And, is that important to you?  And if so, do you promote a healthy work-life balance among your employees?  If yes, please tell us how you communicate that to them?


When I went to work for myself, I realized, I was, in fact, working for my coworkers and customers.  I continue to hold, in high regard, the notion of a healthy work-life balance.  I believe in working hard; and I believe in valuing people, and their needs, above all else.  While it is important to work hard, in order to have a productive life, without friends and family, all that work can seem pretty meaningless. I always put my family and friends first; and I encourage my people to do the same.


What are the most gratifying aspects of owning your business; and doing what you do?  Have those aspects changed over time?

The most rewarding aspect of owning my own business comes from customer feedback - when they let me know I am doing what they need me to do.  Each time a customer reorders, I see it as recognition that we are supporting their needs.  My initial mission statement hasn’t changed over the years: Provide the highest level of value at the best price possible.



What are some of the challenges confronting businesses in your industry sector; and what steps have you taken, or hope to take, to enable Seaway to meet those challenges?


The industrial supply and distribution industry, like many others, has had to produce much more with a lot less - less people, and in much less time, than ever before. The internet, smart phones, and quite frankly, the amount of information available, have changed the pace of our business - and all businesses. As a company, we have embraced technology.  It allows us to interpret and apply information in new and innovative ways, which, in turn, enables us to share efficiencies with our customers.



What is the single most important element for success in your business?  Can you give an example of how you incorporate that element, or approach, into the way you conduct Seaway’s business?


We practice the “Golden Rule.”  We treat our customers as we would like to be treated.  All of my associates support this thought, in practice; and we are fortunate to have found customers that appreciate our efforts.



Seaway is a Maywood-based business with a very specific market area.  Do you think expanding beyond the Chicagoland area might one day be a reality for your business, or do you think you will continue with your current market area - at least for the foreseeable future?


Growth often comes by expanding beyond one’s original geographic base.  Chicago, being one of the largest markets in the country, has afforded us the opportunity to continue our growth, right here.  Hopefully, in the future, we can grow our way into other markets.


If I were to ask what makes Tom Engoren tick, what would you say?

My answer really centers on my career, which has given me the opportunity to work with a cross-section of people and businesses.  I am constantly learning about different types of people, materials and situations.  Without question, my career has enabled me to experience many things that, otherwise, I would not have had the opportunity to enjoy.  It fulfills my curiosity about the way things work, especially the way people work.


Why did you choose Maywood for the location of your business; and do you think it continues to be a viable option for other distribution companies?

Maywood is centrally located in the Chicagoland area; and it made the most sense to me to be in the middle of my business opportunities.  Maywood, as a location, has served Seaway well.  With Maywood as our base of operations, Seaway is able to provide efficient service, and continue to expand its reach. Other distribution companies could easily benefit from the welcoming business community that exists in the town.


If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

Everyone would have to purchase their supplies from me. No, seriously.  That's my answer because purchasing from Seaway Supply is the right solution, for both the customer and the supplier.


What would you say is the most important lesson you learned about your business, since the economic downturn of 2008?

When the economy suffers, everyone suffers. We survived the downturn by staying true to our core values, namely selling high-quality products, and offering a high level of service and expertise.  When it comes to tough times, you really need to know your business, and know how to make your business matter to your customers.





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