Tom Wolf is a different kind of leader, and he will be a different kind of governor. Tom Wolf grew up in York, a small south central Pennsylvania town, and still lives in the house he was brought home to from the hospital.
Tom left York to attend college at Dartmouth, but he interrupted his studies to join the Peace Corps and served two years in a small village in India. He later chose to advance his education at the University of London (M.A.) and MIT (Ph.D).
While writing his dissertation, Wolf worked as a fork-lift operator and warehouse worker in the family business, a distributor of lumber and other building products. Tom’s first full-time job after school was running a Tru-Value hardware store in Manchester, Pennsylvania. Later, with two cousins, he took a risk by securing a loan to buy his family’s cabinet and building materials business, where he grew it, more than doubling its size. In 2006, Tom sold the family business and retired.
Later, Tom took the job of Secretary of Revenue in Governor Ed Rendell’s cabinet. Because Pennsylvania did not have a statute to guard against conflicts of interest, Tom used a statute from the state of Maryland to put all his assets in a blind trust to maintain the integrity of the office. While Secretary of Revenue, Tom instituted reforms in the office that grew and strengthened the state lottery and laid the foundation for millions of dollars in additional benefits for our seniors. Tom’s time as Revenue Secretary was an extension of his lifelong interest in community involvement. Tom was appointed by Governor Bob Casey to an economic development board and served on the Legislative Commission on Urban Schools. Tom has also served as Chair of the York County United Way, the York County Community Foundation, the York College Board of Trustees, and as Chairman of the York County Chamber of Commerce. He has also been active in the York Jewish Community Center, the Memorial Hospital of York, and WITF, a regional public television system.
In early 2009, Tom was planning to run for governor when he received a phone call. The company Tom sold three years earlier—a company he spent twenty-five years building and growing—was on the brink of going bankrupt and closing. Tom immediately ended his campaign and bought back the business. Tom changed the company’s business model, transforming it from just a supplier of other people’s kitchen cabinets and exterior building products into a company that sources its own American-made cabinets, competing directly with Chinese products.
The Wolf Organization currently employs hundreds of people and does business in dozens of states. Tom turned his company around not just through innovation, but by investing in people. At a time when many businesses are cutting employee benefits, Tom provides comprehensive health insurance benefits and not only matches workers’ investment in retirement funds but also makes employer contributions even when workers do not. Tom succeeded in turning his business around because he knows that a failure to change condemns a company—or a state—to seeing the same, unacceptable results.
As governor, Tom will use all of his life’s experiences to build a strong middle class and a brighter future for Pennsylvania.
Tom, 65, and Frances his wife of 39 years live in York County and have two grown daughters.