In the spring of 1994, Richard Wojtowicz was in the midst of a career change. After two stints in the beverage distribution industry, which brought him to Gainesville in 1972, and a stint managing a home improvement store Scotty’s, Inc., Wojtowicz was looking for something completely new.
He had always been interested in the financial markets and finally decided to get his stock broker’s license. Then all he needed was a place in Gainesville to use it. That proved easier said than done, however, until a family member in Minnesota told him to visit the Baldwin family’s office in the Oaks Mall. After a brief phone call and a two-hour meeting (all in the same day), Wojtowicz became a daily fixture in the office as the team arrived for work.
“Richard immediately got along with everyone in the office and would come in early and open our office at 6:15 to 6:30 every morning, make the coffee, then sit down in the lobby to read,” remembered Robb Baldwin, founder and CEO of TradePMR. “He just absolutely loved it. And we loved his company.”
Wojtowicz was working as a broker with the firm by the time Baldwin decided to open TradePMR in 1998. “He was just the natural person to be our first employee,” said Baldwin. “He was our head of trading right out of the gate.”
Wojtowicz approached his new position with the same unflinching dedication as before. “Getting him to leave, take a vacation or even a day off was impossible,” Baldwin said.
Wojtowicz also remained committed to being the first face everyone saw as they arrived for work. In the nearly 14 years that Charles “Chuck” Christensen, TradePMR’s chief financial officer, has known him personally, Wojtowicz has never arrived to the office later than 7 a.m. “He’s ‘Mr. Dependable.’ He’s always here,” Christensen said. “He makes the first pot of coffee and chats with staff for a few minutes every morning. Always.”
Over the years, as TradePMR has grown to service Registered Investment Advisors across the country in all fifty states and the UK, Wojtowicz has held every jobtitle in the company — from delivering daily market reports on the radio to training new employees.
His consistency and dependability in each role left an impression on Director of Operations Scott Victoria from the moment he first joined the company as an intern in 2009. Part of Victoria’s initial role overlapped with some of Wojtowicz’s responsibilities, so he was fortunate to learn from Wojtowicz one-on-one, he said.
“Richard will stay with you until the job is done,” Victoria said. “He is always perfectly groomed in a suit — head-to-toe accessorized, with a perfect part in his hair — every single day. It’s great to be able to look to him as a role model and example of how you want to represent yourself and how TradePMR should be represented.”
“Richard adheres to his own high standards. We don’t have to dress up every day because we don’t typically sit across the table from our clients,” echoed Baldwin. “[Richard dresses that way] because he’s just a model of what he knows we should be in case one of our clients happens to stop by.”
And the impression Wojtowicz leaves with clients is equally as lasting as the one he leaves with coworkers. “Clients still call now, five or six years after he’s changed roles, and ask to talk with Richard. It says a lot,” said Victoria.
For Rob Dilbone, vice president and managing director of TradePMR, the high caliber of Wojtowicz’s character has surpassed subjectivity. “He’s one of those guys if you ever hear about someone who has a problem with Richard, then it’s probably the other person,” Dilbone said, eliciting laughter from the other executives.
“You can always know that Richard is going to say the right thing. He’s not going to lose his cool. He’s just a consummate professional. If anybody has a problem with Richard, it’s not Richard… it’s them.”
Even in his seventies, Wojtowicz still outpaces the younger traders on the floor. “He sets the tone,” said Victoria. “If you’re a younger guy and he’s moving faster than you, it makes you catch up. You don’t want to be far behind.” Equally impressive has been Wojtowicz’s ceaseless capacity for learning new things, especially in the current digital age, Victoria added.
Throughout it all, Wojtowicz remains devoted to the company — and after 18 years, the feeling is mutual. “He was the root of what got us here,” stressed Baldwin. “As I’ve had to go out and build a business, even in the early days, I knew I had somebody who was going to show up every day, run the office the way I would from start-to-finish, and be available for the staff and our clients.”