For Orleans DPW Director Tom Daley The Fun Is In Getting Things Done

By: Kat Szmit

Tom Daley takes a momentary breather in his Orleans office. KAT SZMIT PHOTO

Some people don't enjoy talking about what they do for a living. Tom Daley, Director of Public Works for the Town of Orleans isn't one of them. He loves his job and he'll happily tell you why. It has just a little bit to do with the ability to get things done.

Since graduating from UMass Lowell in 1986 with a Civil Engineering degree, Daley has made it is goal to get things done, beginning with his first job with the United Parcel Service in Manhattan, New York.

“I went from Uxbridge where I grew up, and three weeks later I'm in Manhattan driving a UPS truck,” said Daley. “Culture shock at its best.”

Two years later, Daley returned to his home state, taking a private sector job doing site development for malls and subdivisions while consulting for the Middleboro Planning Board. His goal, however, was to become a town engineer.

He edged closer to that through the years, working first as the highway superintendent in Franklin at the age of 25, before taking a project engineering position in Marshfield.

“I just had a blast,” he said. “One thing I like about the public sector is just getting stuff done. Working through all the red tape and all the politics, all the regulatory stuff, and getting things done. Accomplished. That's what I like to do.”

In Marshfield, Daley had a significant hand in capital project management, which including renovating the pier facilities and improving seven miles of Route 139. His skills led him to become the acting superintendent of Public Works in Marshfield when he was just 28.

From Marshfield he ventured to Stoughton where he served as assistant town engineer, where he stayed for five years before becoming the city engineer for the City of Newton. Following that, he was the director of Public Works in Duxbury. He then went back to Newton as their commissioner of Public Works where he had a $62 million operating budget and a staff of 200, with whom he implemented a trash program that saved the city $1.2 million a year.

After a short stint in Southbridge, Daley found himself contemplating his future, researching jobs on Cape Cod when he saw the Orleans position, starting in April of 2013.

“I had to live within 15 miles of the office,” Daley said with a grin. “So heaven forbid I had to move to the Cape.”

Daley had spent countless vacations here as a child with his family, camping at Nickerson State Park and shellfishing at Crosby Beach. Relocating to the area - he recently bought a home in Harwich - was an exciting prospect.

“It was the right house in the right spot,” he said. “I found the right fit. I found exactly what I was looking for.”

In terms of the job, Daley also liked that he was the town's first DPW director overseeing the myriad departments now included under the one umbrella, which includes facilities, shellfishing and harbormaster, the highway department, streetlight maintenance, town waste, water, recreation, beaches, parks, and the tree wardens, as well as the iconic windmill.

What impressed Daley that much more was the community investment by the residents of Orleans.

“The community invests in itself,” he said. “For example, they fund storm water quality projects. They've been doing it for decades. That says something. I knew it was an intelligent community coming in, and they haven't let me down yet.”

Daley said the biggest challenge is helping people understand just what the DPW is.

“People do not know who we are and what we do,” he said. “People know police. People know fire. But we are the third leg in the public safety stool. If we don't do our job, police and fire can't do theirs.”

One of the most important roles of the DPW involves working through weather events.

“Keeping streets open, whether it's a hurricane, whether it's a blizzard, to make sure that police and fire can get to your home,” Daley said. “If the roads aren't clear, they're going to have a tough time getting there.”

The DPW also oversees the town's water supply.

“People turn on the faucet and take it for granted, but as soon as there's no water there, watch people lose their minds,” Daley said. “Same with solid waste. If there's no place to bring their trash, or if there's a hiccup in trash disposal, people lose their minds.”

Right now, Daley is championing the town for a new facility that will house all of his departments under one roof. Talking about it lights his face up like a kid on Christmas, especially since it means more building. It also means making it easier for the public to access the different departments without having to shuttle themselves all over town.

“People interact the most with the DPW, no question,” said Daley. “Why? Turn on your faucet. Flush your toilet. Drive down the street. Get rid of your trash. Every day, constantly, they're interacting with us.”

For Daley, along with getting things done, work is also about sound management. His favorite quote, from James E. Casey, founder of UPS, is “Good management is your worthiness to have and to hold the confidence of others.”

“You take care of your staff, they take care of you,” Daley said. “People in general want to work, they want to do a good job, they want to be appreciated, they want to be respected. They want to come to work, do their jobs, and go home. If you treat them well, they will treat you very well.”

When not at work, Daley has been working on restoring a 33-foot long motor home circa 1987, in which he took his parents, Dennis and Evelyn, camping in Florida in April where they watched manatees and dolphins swim past from their campsite.

Professionally, Daley is looking forward to continuing the good work the DPW is doing, while personally he'll keep working on his camper, with the goal of traveling.

“I want to enjoy the Cape,” he said. “I want to enjoy what it has to offer.”