DU Hockey Alum Is CEO of Company in Maine

(above) Former DU hockey player Tom O'Brien is CEO of Tom's of Maine which is owned by Colgate-Palmolive
From: Maine Sunday Telegram
by J. Hemmerdinger

Tom O’Brien, CEO of Tom’s of Maine in Sanford, was drawn to the company by its values of sustainability, philanthropy and respect for the environment.

The experience made lasting impressions on O'Brien, now CEO of Sanford-based Tom's of Maine. It taught him humility, he said, and gave him an awareness of the impact businesses have on their communities.

"When you are working that close to the consumer, you get immediate feedback. It's a very humbling experience," he said. "When (people) don't agree with how you are doing business, they tell you very quickly," he said.

O'Brien was raised in Hull, a small town on the south side of Boston Harbor.

His dad owns Jake's Seafood Restaurant and Fish Market, which is the largest employer in Hull, said O'Brien.

After high school, O'Brien attended the University of Denver with dreams of becoming an NHL hockey player. He played for 18 months, then transferred to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he graduated with degrees in psychology and economics. O'Brien also earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

He took a sales job in South Windsor, Conn., with Procter & Gamble, then advanced to district sales manager in Boston and managing director of the global deodorants and male toiletries business.

But O'Brien wanted to work in the natural products industry, and he considered starting or buying a company of his own.

That's when he met Tom Chappell, the now-retired founder of Tom's of Maine.

O'Brien said his values -- sustainability, respect for the environment and philanthropy -- matched Tom's.

"It became very clear we believed in the same things," he said.

In 1997, after nine months of discussions, O'Brien invested in Tom's of Maine and became chief operating officer.

He remained on staff through the 2006 acquisition of Tom's of Maine by Colgate-Palmolive Company, and became CEO in 2008 when Tom Chappell retired.

O'Brien lives in York Harbor with his wife Lisa. The couple have three children: 11-year-old Zachary, 10-year-old Matthew and 8-year-old Sophia.

When he's not working, O'Brien fishes with live worms for striped bass and bluefish with his kids.

This year, the fish haven't been biting.

"We fish every weekend for an hour or two, but have not caught one striped bass or bluefish," he said.


Anonymous said...

Just curious when O'Brien played. He's not listed as a letter winner or on hockey.db. com.

Anonymous said...

I don't seem to remember him. Did he play for the club team? Maybe he was a walk-on, never played and quit? I don't know...

dggoddard said...

Tom O'Brien is 45 years old which would of made him a Freshman in 1984.

He's not listed on any rosters in the DU Media Guide.

Possible that he was a walk-on and never dressed, but I was a student at the time and don't remember the name.

dggoddard said...

...Not to be confused with DU player Tom Martin who was traded for a bus in the early Eighties.