A Tribute to Company Founder Tony Tirollo

Anthony Tirollo was born on December 4, 1940 in New Haven, CT. At a very young age, Tony discovered his talent for math and engineering and was always the one his friends would copy high school and college notes from. “He was the one who would figure out the treehouse measurements in his head at 8 years old,” says Tony’s lifelong friend Gerry. “Then he’d tell each of us how to put everything together and he was always right!” After deciding to major in Engineering, Tony worked full time during the day and attended night school, all while managing a family that included his 3 daughters – Robin, Tracy and Maureen. After graduating from New Haven School of Electronics with a Bachelor’s in Engineering, he began working for a large electronics company. Concerned by the direction the organization was heading, Tony decided to follow his entrepreneurial spirit and at the age of 29, started his own high-end electronic component business. In June 1970, Technical Research and Manufacturing, Inc, was born.

In 1998, he married Wendy Tirollo who was HR Director of TRM Microwave at the time. “Tony was highly regarded as a genius in his field and was often called ‘The Microwave King’,“ Wendy says. “We would have major prime defense customers come to us with roadblocks to their challenges. Tony could look at a design specification and quickly come up with a solution. He just saw things differently.”  In 2006, Tony began mentoring Wendy intensively for the following 4 years and in 2010, passed on the reigns of TRM by appointing her as CEO. This decision in turn allowed Tony to become CTO (Chief Technical Officer) and start focusing on the technical work he loved full time.

Tony reminded Wendy that most business owners are not experts at everything when running their business but following his strategic advice would go a long way in helping run a successful organization.

Tony was known for his special and unique style of mentoring.  He had a passion for guiding his engineers and instilling a sense of excitement when coming up with solutions. For Tony, the more challenging the problem, the more intrigued he became in solving it. He felt that no matter how hard it was, if things were in the realm of physics, there was a solution. “That was the ethic he indoctrinated in his engineers,” Wendy adds. “He loved passing on his knowledge and wisdom because he cared about what we do, our industry as a whole and wanted everyone to succeed in their role.”

In addition to his hard work ethic and technical involvement, Tony was known for his quick, dry wit and joked around daily with everyone in the office. He showed a keen ability to make the atmosphere lighter under even the most intense project pressure. As Wendy explains, “Tony’s favorite phrase was ‘Keep Smiling.’ That was his attitude. He didn’t let anything get to him and he never worried. The world could be crashing down and he’d be totally calm, cool and collected and his pleasant, positive attitude and demeanor was contagious. Tony loved sharing his sense of humor because he knew how important it was to keep the company culture enjoyable, even when there’s stress. Tony used to say ‘If you don’t have great employees who have your back, you don’t have anything.’” 

In 2015, TRM celebrated its 45th anniversary by hosting a gala event at the Manchester Country Club and officially announced to the industry that they had become certified as a Woman-Owned Small Business. Senate representatives, media, employees, customers and sales reps were all in attendance for the unveiling. Sadly, it would be the last company event Tony would attend. After a courageous and valiant battle with heart related issues during the last two years of his life, Tony passed away at his home on 5/21/2016 surrounded by his loving wife, dear friends and all 5 of his beloved pets. A Celebration of Life event followed for family, friends and employees to attend which allowed them to not only grieve, but also to honor a life of success that was full of much love and laughter.

Just a few weeks later in extraordinary timing, Tony’s final achievement would be commemorated and TRM’s spirits lifted. For the prior 3 years, Tony and Wendy led the company through a challenging vetting process to be involved in the US Dept of Defense Mentor Protégé Program. In January 2016, TRM successfully beat out over 20 competing businesses and was finally granted participation. A celebratory event had been set for June 15, 2016. When Tony passed just a month shy of the date, Wendy and COO Mark Schappler decided to go on with the bittersweet and momentous occasion in honor of Tony’s memory. Mark said, “Tony would want us to celebrate. He was passionate about the Mentor Protégé program and stayed on top of everyone to ensure we met criteria and that we were fully engaged in the process. He was so proud of this accomplishment.” The ceremony included guest speakers from the U.S. DOD program, TRM’s mentors from Raytheon, and video messages of heart-felt sympathy and congratulations from both U.S. Senators of NH Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte.

Tony lives on in the hearts and memories of those who were privileged to know him. He left a unique professional legacy including a business that is critical to our nation’s defense and an inspired team of dedicated and loyal employees who share his vision to support America’s safety. He experienced a fulfilling life and will always be warmly remembered as a mentor, friend, husband and family man.