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Ray Repko: The Start of Four Decades at ms consultants

Maggie Kearns Francis

June 20, 2017

ms takes pride in our employees and their longevity with the firm. Ray is celebrating his 40 year anniversary this year, and here he shares his story of how it all started.



When I graduated from Youngstown State University in the late 1970s, there was a downturn in the economy and it wasn’t easy finding work. Only one of the students in my graduating class found a job through the university’s career center. So, after graduation, I spent some time in Youngstown’s unemployment office looking through the help wanted ads.


A job counselor noticed my fruitless efforts and offered to help me go through the ads. Hoping to narrow down the search the counselor asked, “Do you have a high school degree?”


I replied, “Yeah, and I also graduated from YSU.”


“What kind of degree did you graduate with? A degree in education to be a school teacher?” he asked.


I told him, “No, I graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.”


Encouraged by this, the counselor said, “I know an engineering company here in Youngstown called Mosure & Syrakis. I’ll call them right now.”



Within the hour I was sitting in front of Tom Syrakis at Mosure & Syrakis, and he told me that the firm was looking for a summer construction inspector. He asked if I was interested and when I told him I was, he let me know that I would be making $5 an hour. I replied, telling him, “I’m already making $7 an hour showing movies at the Southern Park Mall as a projectionist.”


He said, “I can’t afford to pay you that but if after 90 days you do well, I’ll give you a raise if we decide to keep you around.”


I agreed to those terms and Tom invited me to come back into the office the following day for another interview.


The next morning I was sitting in front of Paul Romack, the company’s construction project manager. For reference, Paul’s role was similar to Steve Zappia or Randy Barker in the Youngstown office, today. Paul hired me on the spot! As Paul tossed a copy of the ODOT Construction and Material Specifications book into my hands, he told me, “Everything you need to know is in this book. You start Monday.”


I was pretty sure there was no way I could read the entire manual, let alone understand it all by Monday, so the rest of the summer I worked 8-5 at Mosure & Syrakis and continued to work 7-11 at the theater. I didn’t know how things would turn out after the 90 day trial period. Well, the last movie I ever showed as a projectionist was Star Wars.



Monday morning I was on the job and standing about where my desk is today. I watched Erskine Construction Company demolishing buildings, pouring street pavement, curbs, sidewalks, and installing sewers, all part of the Youngstown East-End Renewal Project. The construction project superintendent was Dave Sugar, who knew I was inexperienced, as green as grass one could say, right away. Luckily, I was working with Gene Posey, our senior chief inspector, smart like our Jimmy Marr in the Youngstown office today. Dave knew when to stand his ground, and I learned a lot that summer from Gene.


One day, Gene called after me, saying, “Come here, I want to show you something. Look down over this wall.”


When I did, I was looking at Crab Creek, a concrete-lined, trapezoidal channel built by the Army Corps of Engineers that empties into the Mahoning River. Below that was this young guy, tanned, wearing a tank-top t-shirt. The young man was running a jack-hammer to break a hole into the side of the channel for the storm sewer to outlet into. Gene asked if I knew who that young man was, and when I replied that I didn’t, he said, “That’s Dave, he will be your boss someday.”


God bless you, Gene. The summer of 1977 is a core memory for me.


A lot of people ask me what has kept me at the firm for this long, and to that I say – It’s because of all the talented people I have worked with throughout the years. I have never had any regrets.


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