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Meet Tom Krol of A Dependable Electrician

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tom Krol.

Tom is not your typical skilled professional electrical contractor. His very unique background and career of 30 years is a wide-range combination of both the creative and technical worlds.

Tom’s story began during his childhood when he assisted his father with home repair and improvement work in several different houses in where they resided over the years. Tom was also heavily involved with music throughout his childhood, earning first place at a guitar performance competition at McCormick Place at age 10, a piano scholarship with an instructor from Julliard at age 13, and performing clarinet solos in front of orchestras in middle school and high school.

In 6th grade, he started arranging for clarinet and making multi-track recordings of his clarinet. By the end of high school, Tom was recording music and playing 5 musical instruments professionally; guitar, bass, drums, piano, and clarinet. He also had perfect pitch and could sing.

While in high school (York High School in Elmhurst), Tom became an Eagle Scout as he was starting to pursue a career in music performance.

Tom was also sound engineering live performances and recordings in all the rock bands where he was playing guitar and singing. One day, he called one of the high school band directors, William Gilmore, to ask for his recommendation for a new advanced clarinet performance teacher/coach. Mr. Gilmore recommended Julie DeRoche and Tom studied with her for several years.

Julie inspired Tom to pass on an offer for a tuition-free clarinet performance scholarship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and instead attend DePaul University in downtown Chicago where Tom was also offered a music scholarship there, but not tuition-free.

While taking an advanced jazz music studies course during his Sophomore year at DePaul with Allan Swain, Tom was referred to Universal Recording studio owner Murray Allen where he could ask for Murray’s guidance with Tom’s career combining a music and audio production. Murray immediately hired Tom for a general office job at Universal Recording where he worked through college as an admin as well as a sound engineer and session musician of guitars.

Working at Universal, Tom came in contact with many celebrities at that time including Frank Sinatra, James Earl Jones, Oprah Winfrey, and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. While studying music at DePaul, Tom also took classes in computer interfacing and analog and digital electronics.

He graduated DePaul University with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Music degrees with a major in Sound Recording Technology. In 1990, Tom moved to Los Angeles and worked as an audio studio technician at Devonshire Recording in North Hollywood, CA where he maintained large recording consoles and studio wiring. He returned to Chicago a year later to draw upon his experience and contacts with music production and work as a freelance sound engineer with computer-based production as well as a becoming one of the top 10 calls for a studio guitarist at Chicago-area music production houses where he gained nationwide broadcast commercial credits as a session guitarist and copyist (creating music notation of jingles for sessions, archival and copyright).

Tom also sound engineered and performed as a top-call guitarist and vocalist with many Chicago-area live music society orchestras back in the day before DJ music took over the industry.

In 1994, Tom started his own business of audio production, TK Audio, that required design and wiring for 6 different audio studio installations throughout its years of existence in Northfield, Wilmette, Skokie, Chicago River West and Chicago River North. With TK Audio, Tom wrote and performed on commercial jingles and produced VO in both English and Spanish. He played guitar on the music soundtrack for Microsoft’s HALO II video game to complement guitar tracks recorded by Steve Vai.

TK Audio’s 15-year existence saw the gradual decline of audio studio work as video post-production houses started closing their doors as well.

The need for a professional audio studio dwindled. Custom-music went to pre-recorded licensed tracks, commercial production went in-house at agencies and radio stations, VO went to talent’s home studios, and corporate employees started to voice their own training media or build their own in-house production suites. AV production tools became increasingly affordable to a budget-conscious market.

In 2008, Tom closed his River North audio studio and relocated it to his Northshore home. He began to work as a freelance sound engineer and on-site technical director for local Fortune 500 companies where he also designs technical setups of tech booths and produces AV for live corporate events. However, Tom found that the popularity of homemade videos started to lower expectations of professional-quality audio production. Minimum experience and limited audio skills at a lower pay rate became the norm for live events as well as production. More sound engineers graduating with less demand for good ones.

So Tom decided that the demand for a skilled professional electrician would continue to remain into the future where he could use his expertise with signal flow, background of wiring, design, troubleshooting and creative thinking-outside-the-box as a marketing tool to separate his business from the rest. After learning the national code on his own, Tom passed the IL state written exam and the physical skills test for a residential electrician’s license granted by the Village of Libertyville.

The test administrator noted how well Tom performed as a first-time attendee of the test who was also the first to complete the written portion of the exam that day. He also noted how Tom’s background was so unusual for a tradesman; coming from music and media production and not a trade school or apprenticeship. Nevertheless, Tom proved that he had proper knowledge of the NEC and enough experience to earn an electrical contractor license in IL.

From years of interfacing with the corporate business world as an audio producer, engineer and project manager, Tom brings his customer service and skills to clients of his electrical services. Since opening the electrician side of his business in 2008 known as “A Dependable Electrician,” Tom’s online reviews have all been 5-stars on Yelp and A ratings on Angie’s List. Tom relies on referrals and his reputation of integrity found online to bring in new business. His career of wiring, solving problems and creative thinking has enabled him at times to solve problems other electrical contractors could not.

Sometimes he’s devised a solution for problems or installation that has saved a client huge expense from having their project instead become bigger and more complicated. Tom’s years of experience with being very detailed-oriented gives him the confidence to guarantee his wiring work for 10 years.

Tom continues to provide award-winning sound mixing, recordings and studio production, working with production companies and independent producers. His soundtrack mixes have been heard in indie films that were available at Blockbuster and on CD audiobooks distributed worldwide by Sony. His soundtrack mixes are also heard on documentaries airing in over 58 countries around the world. His live audio mixing work is heard on nationwide satellite broadcasts for radio and TV. He performed classical guitar live on Chicago’s WFMT in 2010. In 2011, he released a solo classical guitar album “Primero” that sells worldwide.

In 2018, Tom’s two new solo classical guitar music albums, “Passionart” and “Drift,” contain both classical music and his arrangements of easy-listening music. The recordings feature Tom’s playing a priceless classical guitar previously owned and played by the late Maestro Andrés Segovia on loan from the R.E. Brune collection in Evanston, IL. Both these albums are meant for procuring a record label deal as well as Grammy submissions in 3 categories.

In addition to finding Tom’s quality-reputation online as a licensed electrician and small business owner with an A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau, google “Tom Krol Music” and you’ll find his artist channel on YouTube featuring live videos of his music and vocal performances, an artist page on FaceBook, and his websites for music (http://www.tomkrolmusic.com), audio production (http://www.level10sound.com) and electrical contracting (http://www.dependabletk.com).

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been a smooth road for Tom Krol’s career. DJ music took over an industry that employed sound technicians and music performers where musicians were often their own sound technicians.

There had been a gradual decline of audio studio work as video post-production houses started closing their doors as well. The need for a professional audio studio dwindled. Custom-music went to pre-recorded licensed tracks, commercial production went in-house at agencies and radio stations, VO went to talent’s home studios, and corporate employees started to voice their own training media or build their own in-house production suites. AV production tools became increasingly affordable to a budget-conscious market.

Minimum experience and limited audio skills at a lower pay rate became the norm for live events as well as production. More sound engineers graduating with less demand for good ones. The popularity of homemade videos started to lower expectations of professional-quality audio production. Minimum experience and limited audio skills at a low pay rate became the norm for live events as well as production.

The test administrator of the IL exam for an electrical contracting license was hesitant to grant Tom a license even though he passed the written exam with flying colors. Tom didn’t come from a trade school or apprenticeship so he had to work harder to earn that confidence of the electrical inspector in order to be granted electrical contractor license in IL.

Nowadays, YouTube offers numerous videos for those who wish to save money from hiring a pro by attempting electrical wiring on their own (DIY) without proper knowledge of the national uniform electrical and fire safety codes and without any experience choosing or installing different types of devices available. Sometimes it seems rare for the general public understand that opting for licensed & insured professional shouldn’t wait until after the fire trucks have left.

Clients of electrical services range from those seeking a contractor such as Tom with integrity, trustworthiness and knowledge to those looking only for the best price. Tom’s best clients are those who can appreciate they get what they pay for while realizing that Tom’s rates for a professionally-licensed electrical contractor are quite competitive.

A Dependable Electrician – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Clients of “A Dependable Electrician” always get personalized service from Tom. Subcontractors are never hired. Tom’s years of experience with being very detailed-oriented gives him the confidence to guarantee his wiring work for 10 years.

From years of interfacing with the corporate business world, Tom brings his customer service, courtesy, respect, and skills to clients that has earned him online reviews have all been 5-stars on Yelp and A ratings on Angie’s List.

Tom relies on referrals and his reputation of integrity found online to bring in new business. His career of wiring, solving problems and creative thinking has enabled him at times to solve problems other electrical contractors could not. Sometimes he’s devised a solution for problems or installation that has saved a client huge expense from having their project instead become bigger and more complicated.

Tom is a one-man business sole proprietorship. His rates undercut competitors since he doesn’t need to maintain a fleet of vehicles or an office, pay for advertising or employ an office staff. Tom is a non-smoking, sober, happily-married family man father of two, licensed and insured contractor. He loves animals and prefers to follow film and music instead of watching sports on TV.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Tom believes that honesty is always the best policy. He defines success as earning respect from others for his integrity as a person as well as a professional. He applies this same criterion toward being a good father and husband.

Pricing:

  • $50 service call fee to come out for jobs less than 6 hours
  • $84/hour labor rate billed by the half-hour after the first hour

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
MLB at Wrigley Field

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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