Though Tony Torino has been the owner of Northford’s for almost 30 years, his path could have been very different had he not made the decision to leave his career as an electrical engineer.
North Branford Patch: What made you decide to switch careers?
Torino: I wanted to stay home with my family. I was an electrical engineer and had to travel a lot so I didn’t see my family. I left corporate life to start my own business so my family had something to fall back on. If I didn’t leave it, I probably wouldn’t be married today–I did that much traveling. It was the greatest move I ever made. I could hit the lottery tomorrow and make up all my money, but if you give up your time with your kids, you could never get it back. My family is more important than any job or any money and my kids feel the same way.
North Branford Patch: Do you think owning your own business has made your family closer?
Torino: Absolutely. Everyone is involved. [My son] Steven works alongside me and that is a joy as he takes on a lot of the same values I do as far as the work. If you’re not happy, we’re not happy. My girls and my wife are involved, too. Both [daughters] Cheryl and Christine have worked out there with me and now Christine helps write up contracts.
North Branford Patch: Is your wife involved in the business, too?
Torino: Laura works at Yale University, but last weekend she probably spent 10 or 11 hours typing up contracts for me. You have to have a special wife to be married to a business owner. When things go bad, she’s there and when things are good, she’s there–and that’s tough in business. We’ve been together 45 years, married for 39. We try to get away every year for our anniversary, but it doesn’t always work that way. Our 40th anniversary is next year, though, and we want to get away for a week.
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North Branford Patch: Why did you choose landscaping?
Torino: I’ve always loved doing stuff like this–it’s relaxing. And I always said, if someone else can do it, so can I. What you’re doing, you’re doing for a lifetime, so pick something you like–do it because you want to do it.
North Branford Patch: How have you seen your business grow through the years?
Torino: I started with cutting lawns and moved on from there. I took classes, read a lot on own and started building retaining walls. We did a lot of work for the Town of East Haven–all of Laurel Street right past golf course after the sewer project. At that time, I had 27 guys working for me, but I didn’t want to be that big so I started downsizing again.
North Branford Patch: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Torino: Giving the customer what they want, making them happy. If you’re paying to have a job done, you want it done right. That’s the way I’ve always run the business and Steven feels the same way because your name is on it.
North Branford Patch: What do you like about having a business based in North Branford?
Torino: The people–I think I know half of them. I like a small town where you’re not lost in the numbers. It’s nice to see the town grow.
North Branford Patch: What do you do in your down time?
Torino: I coach at the and I enjoy that. Cheryl coaches at Quinnipiac so we try to watch her games, too. I like seeing her and the head coach interacting with the girls. I also like fishing. Laura and I had a boat for years before the kids were born and I’d like to do that again. We also enjoy spending time with our 3-year-old grandson Gavin.
North Branford Patch: Do you have any plans to retire?
Torino: People ask me that and I laugh. People play golf when they retire because it’s what they like, but I’m already doing what I like to do so why would I stop?