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Name: Tom Harmon
Place of birth: Washington, Ind.
Date of birth: June 27, 1952
Has lived in Columbus since: 1978
Job titles: President of Harmon Steel, chief executive officer of Taylor Bros. and vice president of Harmon Construction.
Education: Undergraduate degree in physical education from Indiana University, MBA from the University of Louisville.
Family: Wife, Mary; daughters Marja and Chasten.
Hobbies: Watching all kinds of sports, playing a lot of golf, fishing at Tipton Lakes, and community involvement at Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization, Columbus Regional Hospital Foundation and the IUPUC board.
Q: What was your first job?
A: At age 12, I cut grass in our neighborhood. I would shovel snow in winter.
Q: What was the primary lesson you learned from that job?
A: My father, William, who died in 1989, always made sure I understood what hard work was. As I got older, I started working in his construction business in North Vernon.
Q: What do you like best about your job?
A: I enjoy being involved in building projects — the Learning Center, Mill Race Center, Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence — that have a lasting impact on the community. And I like dealing with people.
Q: What do you like least?
A: All the regulations and paperwork that’s required. The time of handshake deals is over.
Q: What primary challenge did you face when you became a supervisor?
A: In 1985, I left a marketing job at Cummins and joined the family business as a vice president. It took a whole different skill set, patience and understanding.
Q: What main lessons have you learned in your leadership roles?
A: No matter what type of work you do, whether you build buildings or engines, it’s still a people business. Think about your people first, because you’re only as good as they are.
Q: How are you different as a leader than when you first took leadership duties.
A: I’m more patient and interested in encouraging others to work up to their potential. It’s a lot like raising children. It takes a lot of patience, but it’s worthwhile.
Q: What’s the No. 1 thing you expect from your employees?
A: I expect them to do their best.
Q: What do they absolutely have to avoid?
A: Not communicating. That’s the biggest obstacle in all businesses. You need to talk to one another, especially about expectations.
Q: What advice do you have for people who are just now entering the business world?
A: Perform your job as if you were working for yourself.
Q: What’s your favorite city and why?
A: Chicago. It’s where we used to go for family vacations.
Every other Sunday, The Republic will present short Q&As with local leaders eager to share the lessons they’ve learned. If you have a suggestion for someone to be profiled, please contact finance editor Boris Ladwig at
379-5712 or email@example.com.
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