Wired for success Featured

10:59am EDT August 26, 2003
You might sum up Tom Toth's success in three words: luck, work and determination.

The founder and president of Cabco Inc., a 42-employee fabricator of custom and off-the-shelf cabling for industries that range from transportation to computers, says his 25-year-old company has been hit pretty hard by the slump in the telecommunications industry. Yet Toth is optimistic, because something always seems to come along to help the company bounce back.

And his track record indicates his instincts are right.

"We always seem to make up our losses with new customers," says Toth.

Toth says customers in the transportation, pharmaceutical and power control industries are buoying business in the wake of the telecom crash.

Cabco started out making off-the-shelf cables for computer interfaces and other electronic devices, sending them out at random to purchasing agents. Standard cables became a commodity as off-shore manufacturers began to produce them at lower cost, and Cabco graduated to fabricating customized cables for everything from experimental prototypes cooked up by university researchers to wiring harnesses for San Francisco's rapid transit system.

"If you sketch it out on a napkin, we can build it," says Toth.

Although the bread-and-butter of the business is customized components, Cabco has hundreds of standard items like cabling and connectors in its catalog. To strike the hottest markets, the company prospects businesses with the same SIC codes as other customers that are actively buying from Cabco.

Right after Toth started his company, selling cable items primarily to mining companies, coal miners went on a 26-week strike. So he mailed fliers to businesses and landed a sale with the predecessor of Black Box Corp.

On another occasion, a trade show organizer asked him to exhibit at its event at Greensburg just as he was tearing down at another in Monroeville. Toth balked, but decided to give it a try. At the show, a purchasing agent from Alcoa, a company he had been trying to break into for some time, stopped by Cabco's booth.

Toth told the buyer he had been trying to sell to Alcoa but hadn't had any luck.

"I'm the reason you haven't gotten in," the purchasing agent told Toth.

The buyer contacted Toth shortly afterward, and Alcoa became a customer.

"That table cost me $50," Toth says.

To emphasize that it takes more than luck to be successful, Toth says Cabco won't scrimp on materials or processes, even if the customer suggests it.

"We've had customers tell us, 'Just smash that connector on,'" says Toth. "That's not in our vocabulary." How to reach: Cabco Inc., www.cabco-usa.com