Business, Civic Leader Larry Mocha Remembered

Managing Editor

FOCUSED ON OTHERS: Larry Mocha, former president and CEO of APSCO, Inc., hugs an APSCO employee in November 2014 after receiving an appreciation award from APSCO employees. Mocha, also a strong supporter of small business and entrepreneurship, passed away on June 1.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

On June 1, Larry Mocha, president and of APSCO, Inc., at 68 years old, passed away.

Mocha took over as of APSCO in 1984, upon his father’s death. APSCO was started in 1964 by Mocha’s father in the family’s garage. At the time, Mocha, a Nathan Hale graduate, was still in high school. Mocha soon became the company’s first and only employee but, when the company could no longer afford to employ him, he sold insurance. Mocha watched and waited as his father worked to build the business, and, when his father was ready, Mocha rejoined APSCO. By the time the company reached its 50th year, APSCO had established a global presence, expanded its manufacturing capability through innovative product development and acquisitions, obtained certification and created a number of job opportunities in the Tulsa community, all of this largely thanks to Mocha’s leadership.

In addition to being a successful businessman, Mocha was also known for his constant support of small business and entrepreneurs. Over the years, Mocha has been named SBA’s 2014 Oklahoma Small Business Person of the Year, Tulsa Regional Chamber’s 2014 Small Business Pioneer and Broken Arrow Chamber’s 2014 Manufacturer of the Year. He also served on the 2004 White House Conference Panel on “Securing Our Economic Future, Tax and Regulatory Burdens” and testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee of Investigations and Oversight Committee on “The Impact of Energy Policy on Small Business.”

In 2011, he co-founded OK2Grow with businessman Jerry Holder and Lynda Wingo, director of Miss Helen’s Private School. OK2Grow is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing high school retention rates, promoting entrepreneurship and improving Tulsa’s workforce pipeline. OK2Grow provides scholarships, has formed a coalition to increase career awareness and has launched an effort to transform the perception of manufacturing careers.

Mocha will without a doubt be missed by many.

Below are a few thoughts from some of the ones who knew him best:
Stephanie Cameron, executive director of OK2Grow:

“Larry invested so heavily into other people without expecting anything in return. Larry was al-ways looking to lift others up. He empowered the people around him and claimed to work to ‘surround himself with people smarter than him.’ Larry motivated people like no other – he charged people to ‘do something’ about the problems we saw.

He did things simply because it was the right thing to do, not because it would any have any im-mediate impact on his business or him personally.

Larry always closed a meeting with the question ‘What can I do for you?’ Even when I visited with him in the hospital, he asked me, ‘What can I do for you?’

Like a father, he could take one look at me and tell if something was wrong or I wasn’t feeling well. I will always remember when he drove me for minor surgery, and in dropping me off at my house, he asked me if I needed any money.”

Lynda Wingo:
“I met Larry in 1996 at a Tulsa Regional Chamber meeting. He went out of his way to make me feel comfortable.

Every day I will miss him: his guidance and his cheerleading and encouragement. He made eve-ryone feel like his special friend. He was always extending his hand to me, checking on me.

OK2Grow was his passion: to get kids aware of opportunities and to educate them and get them into the workforce. He was the engine to our train.”

Jerry Holder, graduated with Mocha from high school:
“We were mentors for each other. We both had down times in our businesses and helped each other. We supported and gave positive feedback to each other.
Larry was a great visionary and inclusive of so many people in sharing his vision. With OK2Grow, we hope to continue that in a way he would approve, always asking ‘What would Larry do?’”

APSCO Employees:
“This is a family. I enjoy being here. I feel valued and that I am able to do my best work. Larry listened and was interested in what I had to say. We are not numbers or just employees. Larry knew my name; he knew all of our names. His enthusiasm for growth and improvement was infectious.”

“This is one big family. We all get along, we all know each other, we all care for each other. Larry was genuine in his interest in me; that meant a lot.”
Sandra, Mocha’s wife:

“Larry built this culture (at APSCO): a family culture. He told me he was an ‘includer,’ and I know our employees felt included and valued. Their thoughts and opinions, good or bad, mattered to him; our employees knew that.

One of the last times I was with him, I showed him a photo of a group of employees that had just passed a training course; they were all holding their certificates. He asked me if they were proud of their achievements, I told him I thought they were; he told me ‘Well, I am!’ He was always so proud when his employees improved or achieved something; his praise was always so generous it could almost embarrass you, like only your parents could. APSCO is a family, and Larry was the head of it.
So many of our employees feel like Larry gave them an opportunity and a chance to grow, not just once but over and over again.

I am one of the many, and he encouraged me every step of the way.”

Updated 06-30-2015

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