When Eric Tomeo, BComm 94, and his team at Trekfit won the 2018 Best Recreational Equipment award at Les Grands Prix du Design (Quebec) for their Bamboo Jungle, they were ecstatic. ‘‘Yeah, we’re pretty proud of that one,’’ Tomeo says, beaming.
Trekfit, which Tomeo founded 10 years ago, designs and builds outdoor fitness and recreational equipment for cities. It was a business idea that came to him while he was getting his winter tires changed.
‘‘I decided to start a company called Trekfit. I had a vision of what it was but I couldn’t see it at that point,’’ he explains. Plus, he knew nothing about industrial design, manufacturing, or selling to cities. But his tolerance to risk is, as he describes it, ‘‘10 times that of the average person.’’
Fast forward to 2019 and it’s all very clear. This year, the company installed 81 recreational-equipment parks throughout Canada and the United States. Though the equipment currently targets adult users, the company’s focus for the future is on recreational equipment that bridges the age gap, offering playgrounds where parents and kids can all play.
‘‘The goal is to promote physical activity, to keep people active,” Tomeo says. “And the reward is very simple. It’s seeing how we enhance the beauty of our parks and the lives of the residents around them.’’
Tomeo first gave wings to his entrepreneurial spirit shortly after graduating from Concordia.
He left Montreal to partner in a startup in the Dominican Republic. When the partnership dissolved, he stayed and opened an ad agency with a friend. Later, he purchased the Caribbean franchise of a media company before selling it and moving to the United States to be an employee at the corporate office of that same firm. ‘‘Those four years in the U.S. were the only ones in my life that I spent as someone else’s employee, and I hated it. I didn’t have a purpose anymore. So I came back.’’
Tomeo credits his experience at Concordia for nurturing his desire for internationalism, and as the impetus for working outside of Canada. ‘‘At Concordia, I was exposed to English and multiculturalism. Plus, my involvement with AIESEC (Association internationale des étudiants et étudiantes en sciences économiques et commerciales) exposed me to the rest of Canada, got me a traineeship in Tunisia, and launched my personal development in the field of international business. All that made going abroad more accessible and easier for me. I couldn’t imagine anything other than working abroad after graduation.’’
Abroad is where he is headed again, this time with Trekfit. The plan for 2020 is to enter the European market – slowly – and the Latin and South American markets as well. Having recently hired a General Director for Trekfit, Tomeo now has more time to focus on marketing and design. Especially design.
‘‘I discovered I have an affinity, no, a passion, for design,’’ he says. ‘‘Now everything in my life needs to be beautiful. Life needs to be beautiful or else it’s not fun.’’