Name: Thomas W. Dufour
Occupation: Director of Accounts and Business Development – emBold
Tell us about yourself: I'm a 35-year-old web professional, new dad, husband, and a dog guy. I moved to Cleveland in 2015 and live with my family in a great city next to Cleveland Hopkins airport called Brook Park, with our son Thomas and our two dogs Missy and Bubba. I love being active in the community, am a proud former board member of the 20/30 Club.
Why did you move to Cleveland? Simple, boring answer: My wife got transferred here for work. As newlyweds, Cleveland presented an excellent place for us to start building our life together. Being a native of Toledo and my wife of Pittsburgh, Cleveland is equidistant from both of our hometowns.
What advice do you have for young people that just moved here? First, welcome! Cleveland is a vibrant and dynamic place, especially when you know where to look. Northeast Ohio is growing and changing faster than anyone can imagine – you're at the forefront of a regional rebirth. My advice – find what you love here and get involved in it. To those reading this, we've never met, but I know we need your help to push things forward. Join us!
What surprised you the most about Cleveland? Most people talk about the food scene surprising them – but that wasn't it for me. Instead, what surprised me the most about Cleveland is how much it can feel like a small town, even though you're in a major city. People in Cleveland maintain their friends for life here. I don't think it's uncommon to run into someone for the first time, and they're hanging out with a friend they've had since grade school. I think that's lost in a lot of big cities.
How have you grown your business or career since moving to Cleveland? When I moved to Cleveland, I had my own website development company back in Pittsburgh, but in 2019 I merged my business with emBold, an incredible website development company based in Akron. Since the merger, we've grown our revenue 41%, despite the global pandemic, we have moved our business into the Bounce Innovation Hub, where we're among some of the greatest innovators in the region, and we have also begun work on spinning out a separate startup company using our internal talent and resources. In short, things have never been better, regardless of the obvious challenges.
What do you hope to gain in your career or personal life in the next 5 years? Outside of growing emBold and launching our startup, I'm currently a Brook Park City Council candidate, where I hope to bring a unique perspective to the council. With my experience in business/entrepreneurship, technology, local government, and all of the places I've visited and learned from over the years, I feel I'd be an asset to helping Brook Park realize the renaissance that's right around the corner. I'm also just excited to see our son Tommy grow up. As of this interview, he's almost ten months old, is just taking his first steps and starting to say his first words. I'm already looking forward to looking back at this question on the website and remembering him as he was when I answered this question!
Tell us how you found out about the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club and how did it help you in transitioning to Cleveland? Well – this wasn't my first time starting over. I grew up in Toledo and moved to Pittsburgh at 19, where I didn't know a soul. When my wife and I moved to Cleveland, I left behind a life I had built over a decade in Pittsburgh.
When I moved to The Steel City, I had all of college to make friends. But after that ended, when many of my friends moved back home or took jobs in other cities, a local professional networking organization called Pittsburgh Young Professionals helped me build the next iteration of friends and contacts in my life. So, moving to Cleveland, I looked around at the networking organizations out there and decided that Cleveland 20/30 was more than just for networking – it's an organization dedicated to personal and professional growth and is apt for showing new people the best Northeast Ohio has to offer. I jumped at the opportunity to attend an event, and here we are today!
The folks who plan events in this Club should be ambassadors for the region. I always love exploring somewhere new with the Club. Being a part of Cleveland 20/30 exposes you to a lot of new people and places quickly. The Club hosts several unique events monthly, and every single one is a fantastic time. I encourage everyone moving here to throw as many 20/30 events on your calendar as you can!
If you are new to Cleveland, be sure to register and apply for our Welcome to Cleveland program.