Alliance Partner Recognition Award — Tom Sandri: Safety, Skill, Knowledge, and Dependability

NETA World StaffNETA News, Summer 2024 NETA News

Congratulations Tom Sandri on receiving the 2024 NETA Alliance Partnership Award, presented by Jim Cialdea, NETA Alliance Partnership Chair.

The Alliance Partner Recognition Award is open to all individuals who are involved in or support the electrical testing industry, serve the industry through the development and use of consensus standards in the electrical power industry, and are focused on providing the highest level of safety and reliability. These individuals include people from all aspects of electrical testing,” NETA Board Member and Alliance Program Committee Chair Jim Cialdea, CEO of Sigma C Power Services, explained.

“One of the things the Alliance Committee gets to do every year is pick a person who has gone above and beyond in serving and supporting NETA and the industry,” Cialdeasaidas he prepared to reveal the winner. “We usually have a difficult time doing that because we fortunately have a lot of great people who are helping us out, and we want to recognize them with the Alliance Partner Recognition Award.”

“This year’s recipient, Tom Sandri, has done a lot for the industry during his 30 years of service with five companies, including separate assignments at three of those companies. He is currently the Director of Workforce Development at Vector Power,” Cialdea began, “but he has also filled roles as Product Manager for AVO International, Senior Application Engineer and Regional Sales Manager at Megger, Director of Operations and Technical Support and Director of Training Services at ProTec Equipment Resources, and Senior Technical Instructor and Training Development Manager at Shermco Industries.” 

Vector Power CEO Pat Beisert calls Sandri “passionate, caring, well-educated, and always working toward advancing our industry to the next level. I cannot say enough about Tom Sandri.”

“I admire Tom’s always-positive energy and willingness to help those around him, and he does so with an attention to detail and high regard for technical accuracy,” notes NETA Board Member Ron Widup, Senior Advisor of Technical Services at Shermco Industries. “We are in a technical space, and getting things right is important. Tom understands that and does it well. I’ve always admired that about him.”

“I was shocked and honored when my name was announced,” Sandri says. “I don’t necessarily view what I do as anything special — I do it because I love what I do, and I love this industry. NETA is an amazing organization filled with top-notch professionals. I consider it a privilege to be part of the organization, and I want to give back. After earning my BSEE from Thomas Edison University, I started my career as a field engineer working for a utility,” Sandri acknowledges. “Over the years, I discovered I had a passion for knowledge and learning. This passion directed me down a leadership path, mentoring others to assist in building their skills and knowledge.”

“Tom’s passion for training and helping others advance in their careers along with his knowledge of the industry has always impressed me,” says Beisert. “He makes me want to get better.”

As you go through your career, you will see people from time to time who stand out, and Tom Sandri is one of those,” Widup points out. “They say attitude is everything, and Tom has this aspect covered. His attitude and passion for what he does, and importantly for what he does to help people, is stellar. Tom is always willing to help, to teach, and to help those around him succeed. He is a great instructor and a person who is willing to help you in any way he can. He is a true standout!”

“Tom’s work ethic and his knowledge of theory, code, and electrical safety policy and standard best practices are what set him apart,” says Nicholas Orlea, Director of Operations at Vector Power. “He has the ability to train and develop people of all backgrounds and knowledge levels. He makes the training personal and can adapt his method to any trainee regardless of their technical knowledge or learning style. You can tell he has a true passion for teaching others, especially regarding safety and electrical theory.”

Beisert agrees: “Tom has a passion for training people. He truly wants them to get better. Customers also count on Tom for his expertise and his way of explaining things so that anyone can understand. Tom will get a call from a customer who needs help, and he’s on a plane the next day.” 

Matt Mladenka, Vice President of Marketing & Sales at Protec Equipment Resources, remembers, “People are always calling him to troubleshoot problems. He makes himself available weekends, evenings — he is always on the phone.”

“Tom consistently makes time to answer questions and mentor no matter how busy he is,” Shari Sandri says. “We worked together during the years at Shermco, and I’ve seen him pack up and head out at the drop of a hat to go help any crew in the field that’s in trouble.”

“Tom’s a jewel in the industry. His knowledge and his passion are contagious,” Mladenka adds. “He calls people his students. He doesn’t call them technicians, he doesn’t call them employees or workers. He calls them students. It’s a tuition, not a fee.”

“During our time at Shermco, they asked me to revise their company mascot, Sparky,” Shari Sandri remembers. “I modeled him after Tom, and there was a reason I did that. Tom is the very embodiment of safety, skill, knowledge, and dependability in this industry.”

Tom was the model for Shermco’s Sparky.

Sandri gives credit for his success to the industry he chose. “It’s a wonderful industry overflowing with opportunity, and that inspires me,” he says. But he says the credit really belongs to the technicians he has been privileged to meet, consult with, work with, and train.

“Although I still go into the field to maintain my hands-on knowledge and skills, I now focus on workforce development and use my field time to learn, observe, and discover educational opportunities for my workforce development efforts.”

The greatest challenge I have,” he admits, “is that I always struggle with balancing my professional life with my personal life. Believe it or not, I have not taken an actual vacation in over 10 years. Vacation time and weekends are when I focus on my writing. So let’s call this one a work in progress.”

Shari Sandri agrees. “What I saw Tom bring to the field was his absolutely indefatigable desire to share knowledge.”

Sandri’s advice to new professionals: “Love what you do. Remain a student of life. There is always more to learn, so listen and observe and don’t get locked into paradigms. Remain flexible.”