President/Owner, Hydro-Dyne Engineering
Jay Conroy has always been an entrepreneur. It started when he was in fifth grade, when he led a candy cartel at school. He would go to the Super America down the street to buy candy and then sell it to his schoolmates. He was so successful, he recruited a couple of kids in the grade above him and a couple in the grade below to sell candy as well. That was, until his elementary school started its own candy store and made him shut down his business.
Conroy, who describes himself as “determined, deliberate and enterprising,” knew he wanted to start his own business — but never imagined it would be in water treatment equipment. After graduating from the University of Florida with degrees in environmental engineering and sales engineering, he worked for Wiesemann, a wastewater screen manufacturer. A couple years later when the company shut down, Conroy saw an opportunity to continue to grow the business, and at age 23, opened Hydro-Dyne Engineering.
Conroy says he had a good foundation to start; the products were good, so he made some improvements and developed patents on the technology. He learned how to run the business “the hard way: trial by fire,” Conroy says. “I didn’t have much to lose.”
Since its founding in 2002, Hydro-Dyne has experienced double-digit revenue growth almost every year and has grown from one employee to 80. In the next couple of years, Conroy expects to reach 100 employees. Two years ago, the company outgrew its 20,000-square-foot space in Oldsmar and moved to a 110,000-square-foot facility in Clearwater.
Conroy says he expects the growth to continue: “Once a big ship starts, it’s hard to stop.”
— Traci Beach
Name: Jay R. Conroy
City of residence: Dunedin
Employer: Hydro-Dyne Engineering
Birthplace: Fort Myers
Years on the Gulf Coast: 39 (35 if you don’t count college in Gainesville)
Marital status/children: Single/one daughter
Alma mater/degree: University of Florida/Environmental Engineering, Sales Engineering, Business Administration
Best place to network: WWEMA (Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association) events around the country
Messy desk or clean workspace: Beginning and end of the day, clean; during the day, a mess
Eat lunch out or at your desk: At desk when in town
Best business lesson ever learned: The better you anticipate, the better you mitigate/capitalize
Weirdest job you’ve ever had: Ringleader of a candy cartel in fifth grade
A website that makes your job easier: EngineeringToolbox
App you use the most: Waze and Overcast
One thing you do everyday: Take dog to work
Favorite off-hours activity: Gym or fishing
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Mark Twain — humor, with and tons of stories. Lenoardo da Vinci — tops the list of several Renaissance men.
What you would be doing if you could pick another career: Business acquisition and mergers for money and ocean research and cleanup for philanthropy
Top item on your bucket list: To do — swim with whale sharks; done — run with bulls in Pamplona
Your happy place is: Islamorada and the Florida Keys
Your biggest fear: Quicksand, although I now think childhood cartoons have painted that as unrealistic
Favorite Ted Talk: The Power of Design
Skill you’d like to learn: Freediving
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Ryan Reynolds — dude is hilarious
Describe yourself in three words: Determined, deliberate and enterprising