I get “the call” to report to Fort Bragg. I was in the reserves, and now I am being sent over to Saudi Arabia.

I’m 30 years old, a farm boy from Montana. Eighteen months before, I’d quit working for someone else and launched my own industrial engineering company. I believed that there was a need in the industry for people who really cared about what they were doing, who wanted to raise the bar of excellence and whose word really meant something to them. So I started my company on those principles. And it worked. I had people working for me, we had some nice projects and great clients such as Exxon— and then, unexpectedly, I was sent to war.

The first hard thing was having to tell all my customers that I wouldn’t be able to complete the commitments I had made to them. I had to close our office and I couldn’t say when I’d be back. Breaking my word on those commitments was very difficult for me. I’m a “my word is my bond” guy.

Berenyi Coaching - Engineering mentorship

The next thing I know, I was a company commander in the desert with a 250-man unit. Dealing with all the deaths of people I saw while over there, was much harder than anything I’d done—by magnitudes.

While on duty, my customers gave their new projects to my competitors. So naturally when I got back home, I thought of permanently folding up my business. It would be easier to try and get a job working for somebody else. My customers had gone and I had my own life to try to piece back together.

But something really amazing happened and it taught me a lot.

When I returned home, my customers fired my competition. They said, “Tony, here are the projects we gave to other companies while you were away, but we wanted to give them to you in the first place.”

They said they didn’t know how great we were until they had to use somebody else. It was very humbling. It taught me that I should trust my business intuition. And for 25 years those principles have served my company extremely well.

But I had learned something even more profound while at war. There was a moment in the desert during the war when I saw a dog carrying away a man’s arm…

At that point, I made a personal commitment that I was going to do my best to live an exceptional life and have a positive impact on everyone I would come in contact with.

Today, I’m 58, I could continue building more buildings and manufacturing plants, but I have enough for myself. I want to spend the rest of my life for focusing on significantly enriching other people lives.

To achieve that, in 2018, I gave my industrial business to my employees. This freed up my time so that I could devote myself to passing on one of my greatest strengths: a legacy of business mastery. That’s “the call” for the next 25 years of my life.

Engineering leadership

Bio

Raised on a farm in Montana, Tony Berenyi was a teenager when he moved with his family to Union, South Carolina where he attended high school. Following a degree in civil engineering at The Citadel, Tony went to graduate school at MIT, receiving a degree in structural dynamics in 1987.

Tony also has a distinguished military career. After The Citadel, he accepted a commission with the US Army Reserve and attended Engineer Officers School. Just months after setting up his own company in 1989, duty called— Iraq had invaded Kuwait.

Tony was called upon to command a 250-man unit in two countries during Operation Desert Storm. He earned the Bronze Star for his combat experience. Eleven months later he returned home and restarted Berenyi, Inc., a Charleston engineering and architectural construction firm.

Berenyi Engineering leadership

At Berenyi, Inc., Tony has led the Berenyi team in the design and management of many industrial construction projects in Charleston, across the United States and, more recently, in Africa. The work in Africa combines three of Tony’s core beliefs from The Code: an unending search for excellence in quality, caring for others by providing much needed support, and creating dependable infrastructure projects.

Tony lives in Charleston, South Carolina. He has four daughters. His first book, Secrets for Savvy Business Owners, was published in 2007.

Tony's Bio

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