Each year I use our November newsletter to share some thankfulness and appreciation with the world. The tradition continues.
Tripepi Smith grew from nothing to something with the help of a lot of mentors and advocates along the way. None were more impactful than Frank Tripepi, retired city manager, Willdan executive and father to my wife and co-founder Nicole (Tripepi) Smith. As readers of this newsletter know, we lost Frank this year, but his life lessons live on in the profession through the work of countless city professionals who benefitted from Frank’s mentorship, as well as through our firm’s name - Tripepi Smith. Thank you Frank.
In the early days of Tripepi Smith, we were an army of two (Ryder and Nicole) and I attended League of California Cities meetings in Los Angeles and Orange counties looking to meet some people and learn about local government so I could figure out how to be helpful. Frank had introduced me to Troy Butzlaff and Karen Ogawa who were paired up in Placentia as the CAO and finance director, respectively. They had some technology needs at the time that I knew I could help them with, and they gave me a shot to prove myself - making City of Placentia the first city client for Tripepi Smith. Cities are not big on risk and as a newcomer, I represented risk. It worked out well for everyone. Thank you, Troy and Karen.
In June of 2013, Tripepi Smith had four employees, and the City of La Cañada Flintridge (LCF) asked if I could help them develop a community resource guide for tree preservation and education. Mark Alexander was (and remains) serving as the city manager and Kevin Chun was his number two. I had met them both through the California Contract Cities Association. LCF City Hall was still in an older commercial building on Foothill Boulevard, and I spent several hours sitting in rooms chatting with the kind and thoughtful staff at LCF learning about trees. LCF later issued an RFP for communication support services, and it was the first big RFP win for Tripepi Smith. As a result, the City became our first retainer engagement for communication support services. I reflect on this particularly as Mark has announced his retirement plans, which means I will just fall short of ten years of getting to work with him. Thank you, Mark and Kevin.
My final thank you is to Jack Simpson. In 2000, he gave my name to the California City Management Foundation (CCMF) board as a “web guy” who could help the Foundation build a website. I subsequently met up with a fellow 20-something Jim Lewis who was working for the then-president of the CCMF Board and Claremont city manager Glenn Southard. That initial introduction and the following 22 years of partnership with CCMF introduced me to countless CCMF-affiliated friends and relationships such as Bill Garrett, Rita Geldert, Ken Pulskamp, Wade McKinney, Ken Striplin and dozens more. Each of them have been friends and mentors over the decades, but it started with Jack. Thank you, Jack.
The butterfly effect is real. One small act over twenty years ago changed the course of lives. Local government is a tight circle of relationships and connections. People, projects and stories constantly circle in a relatively small sea of public agencies, creating thousands of opportunities to be thankful for people and their impact on the random walk that our lives can take. Who will we thank twenty years from now?
There are hundreds more to be thankful for, but there is a November in 2023 according to my calendar, and I will have some more digital room to share more thanks.