Former Navy SEAL Finds Success as Custom Integrator
TOAD's Mark Hooper was injured while he was in the military years ago. After a brief time in Hollywood, Hooper runs a successful two-man integration shop that sells 90% of clients service contracts.
Sporting rugged good looks, Mark Hooper appears like he stepped right out of Hollywood central casting. In fact, his diverse background actually includes a brief stint in Hollywood and, more importantly, 10 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL and in the Army’s most elite unit, 18 Delta, from which he graduated first in his class.
Now, he applies that same work ethic, problem-solving skills and keen attention to detail in his role as CEO of Technical Operations And Development (TOAD), a custom electronic company serving the greater New England area.
But Hooper’s success as an integrator may have never happened if not for an injury sustained while in the military. The injury created a non-convulsive epilepsy condition that forced a discharge from the SEALs in 1998.
“Once my brain was an information super highway — I was pretty intelligent,” says Hooper humbly. “Now it’s like taking a dirt road to get to the same information. Imagine you’ve got all your books lined up in a library and then one day someone pushes the bookshelf down. You have all these bits of information in your brain, but you can’t find the information fast.”
The Navy wanted him to do something repetitive and less taxing on his brain; they even set him up for a job with the U.S. Postal Service. “But that wasn’t my thing,” says Hooper bluntly.
Instead, he started doing cable work for Media One, then AT&T and Comcast. The next phase of his journey took him to Hollywood where several of his friends were working on movie shoots, and had even appeared as extras in movies like The Rock starring Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery. Hooper joined in and was soon helping a friend install gear for Hollywood studio execs.
“I didn’t have the love for it yet, but I was with my buddy and we were having a good time. It wasn’t even like working but it really was a lot of work,” Hooper recalls.
Soon he had the bug for A/V and Hooper parlayed his experience to form his own company — Frogman Communications (a nod to his SEAL history) — in Plymouth, Mass. Initially, he focused on being a subcontractor for the phone and cable companies. The name eventually morphed into TOAD.
“I was trying to come up with some cool acronym for Frogman. So one day I came up with Technical Operations And Development (TOAD) and the name stuck. Most people remember TOAD,” he says.
It was during this time that Hooper met his technical staff expert Peter Robbins, systems engineer, and soon the duo were working side by side installing cable TV and high-speed Internet.
Robbins went on to work for DirecTV, becoming one of only a select few technicians certified to install Direct PC (Satellite Internet). Robbins had stints at Bose and Best Buy’s Geek Squad and was a decorated law enforcement officer.
Similar to Hooper, Robbins was injured in the line of duty and forced to hang up his badge and eventually he moved back to Cape Cod to pick up his duties with TOAD.
Today, he is advanced Level 2 Savant-certified and Hooper’s right-hand man.
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org
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