A FEW MINUTES WITH TOM TINLIN OF HOWARD STEIN HUDSON, A VALUED CONSULTANT OF CORE INVESTMENTS, INC.
Tom Tinlin is Associate Principal for Institution and Private Markets with Howard Stein Hudson, a New England-wide engineering and consulting firm with a Boston headquarters that works with Core Investments, Inc. on the development of the On the Dot neighborhood in South Boston and other projects. HSH also has offices in Chelmsford, Worcester, and, soon, in Bridgewater.
That’s quite a title. What do you actually do?
My role is to work with private market clients and institutions such as hospitals, colleges, and universities. And, on the private side, Core-type businesses, developers, to help them shape and fulfill their vision in terms of everything from conception to putting pen to paper. Meeting with various permitting authorities, and community stakeholders, to identifying a path forward for fulfilling the vision.
How many people does HSH have in Boston?
Right now about 95.
How long has HSH worked with Core?
My relationship with Core has been going on five years, since On the Dot, and that led to a partnership on other projects as well.
What does HSH do for Core Investments?
With Core it’s a lot of work as part of the neighborhood team, the interface team – what I really enjoy. I was born raised and still live in South Boston. Seeing this neighborhood getting the attention that we’ve been hoping for, for so many years, working with people like Pattie McCormick and Linda Zablocki [residents and Andrew Square Civic Association leaders], people I’ve known our whole lives – it’s great to see that type of investment and opportunity given to part of the neighborhood that has been all but ignored. I help other team members with the neighborhood and also interface with the permitting issuing authorities, BPDA [Boston Planning and Development Agency], [City of Boston] Transportation Department. A little bit of the MBTA, with proximity as it relates to Andrew Station.
Do you work on multiple projects for other companies?
For sure. My role is to work with the other offices I referred to statewide and a little New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut presence.
How many people at HSH work on the Core account?
Depending on some of the deadlines for filing, consistently a good five. If we have something new, based upon need, our model is we have quite a few experts in different areas we can pull into any project at any time to meet clients’ needs and meet deadlines.
Tom, I hesitate to ask because it’s so rich and extensive, but — what is your background?
I was born and raised in South Boston. I never envisioned myself as a transportation person quote unquote. I was a security guard in Boston City Hall. A District City Councilor for District 5, Tom Menino, challenged me to go back to school. He saw something in me that I didn’t see myself, encouraging me to do other things, go to school.
That was born a friendship, and when he was Acting Mayor and then ran for office, I got involved in his campaign. I was the only guy from my crew in South Boston with Tom Menino. They were all Jim Brett guys. Here I am a security guard helping somebody who was my friend become mayor. When he won, he had a full office of people involved in his campaign, well-wishers, people sending flowers. And I got a call from the security desk saying the mayor wants to see you. He said, “Tommy, I want you to come to work for me. You have to go back to school, get a degree.”
So I did. He got his degree from UMass while a sitting City Councilor. So I went back to school in fits and starts and got a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Nazarene College. He said, “That’s great. Guess who’s going to get their Masters Degree on a fellowship at Suffolk University.” So I got a Master’s in public administration. In Transportation [the Boston Transportation Department] there was a lot of turnover and turmoil, and he asked me to go in as chief of staff. I helped streamline some things.
The Menino model was if you’re focusing on the nuts and bolts and things people care about when they open their front door, they will give the ability to do other things. Like instituting resident parking and street-cleaning programs. He built a strong foundation, using the Big Dig [the Central Artery/Tunnel project] as an opportunity for city improvement. I became Deputy Commissioner and Acting Commissioner and then went on to serve as the longest-serving Transportation Commissioner in the City of Boston’s history.
I walked out the door with Tom Menino on his last day. When you serve with somebody as long as I have, you understand that every mayor deserves to bring their own team in. It was right for me to leave when Tom Menino left. Governor [Deval] Patrick had been sending out feelers to come up to his administration, and [State Transportation] Secretary Rich Davey appointed me as Director of Operation for the Highway Division of MassDot.
Then [Gov.] Charlie Baker came in, and Baker and I had mutual friends and acquaintances. His first year he had 200 inches of snow, every weekend a blizzard. So he and [Lt. Gov. Karen] Polito, they asked me to take on the role as Highway Administrator, the Highway Division within MassDot. with 3,000 employees, every state road that is not DCR [Division of Conservation and Recreation], and all the fun that comes with it. Until 2017.
As you know, I suffered a brain aneurysm and was flat on my back for four months. I reassessed, and I came to understand the way I was taught to be a public servant and have success was 24/7, focusing on the small, getting the big stuff done. But I couldn’t work at that same capacity. They said it takes a year for the brain to heal. Actually it takes five years, but the bulk of it is in year one. It got you to thinking about all the lost things, time with family and friends in particular, and I figured it was time to really be more available to my wife and children. I haven’t regretted it for a second.
I’m so thankful I lived long enough to learn that lesson. I’ve had three different brain surgeries to date. It’s [an aneurism] almost like a volcano, it opens and releases blood into the brain and closes. In November, I had another surgery on a second unruptured aneurysm. Although discovered in 2017, at that time it was considered inoperable. It’s like waiting around six years with a time bomb in your head. And one day they said we have a new treatment for you. Unlike the first experience I was out of the hospital the very next day.
What’s interesting about working on Core’s projects?
We at HSH have been fortunate, we don’t take on all clients. We have a high level of standards. When I first met Dave [Dave Pogorelc, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Core Investments, Inc.], you cannot help but feel his enthusiasm and desire to do good and design something special in order to leave a place better than he found it. That emanates through that organization. Top to bottom everybody has that.
It’s not just about money, it’s about open space, quality of life, amenities, thoughtfulness. It’s a special group. It didn’t hurt that in this particular area of my neighborhood I know so many of the people who will benefit from On the Dot. It became a labor of love. Unfortunately, in this time we live in there is so much suspicion, of government, development, neighborhood leaders, of anybody. The unicorn that is Dave shows up, he’s so sincere, they are skeptical. He believes it and surrounds himself with people who believe it as well.
So you’re a Southie guy. Have you ever lived anywhere else?
Where do you live now?
Right on G and Fifth. It was a typical Southie move. Born on Second. Moved to Fifth Street. Then further up Fifth Street. That’s it.
What do you do to have fun when you’re not working?
I really enjoy traveling. Since I was sick my wife and I made it a priority to see the world — Paris, London. Who knows where next year? Spending time with my children. I find my kids are really fun and interesting, a son 23 and a daughter 21. I really enjoy golf. I’m not good at it, but being out there. Reading, like a good book. Having a good cigar, and living life.
What’s a favorite place of yours in the Boston area?
Having a Snap dog at Sullivan’s Island at Castle Island. You can always tell when somebody is from South Boston, because they call it a Snap dog.