Paul Matrka


Growing up my passion was flying. I dreamed of being a pilot, which led me to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy. After graduating with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering I spent 8 years in the Air Force as a pilot. However, my flying career ended early when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during an annual physical. One of my goals when looking for a new career field was a job that didn’t require me to sit behind a desk. I was introduced to the water and wastewater industry through my family. My father-in-law, Jim Tegethoff, owned the Russell H. Smith Equipment Company and he gave me the opportunity to represent his company in the northern half of Ohio. I didn’t know anything about the industry, but it met my out of the office goal, so I took the job.

My education in water and wastewater came from a combination of text books (Metcalf & Eddy), the manufacturers we represented, and a great deal came on-the-job through the kindness and patience of others in the industry who took the time to answer my questions. Today I can’t imagine being in another line of work. I get to work with a committed team at Smith Environmental sharing a common goal to support the engineers that design our community’s treatment plants, the contractors who build them, and operators that make them work. In the 20 years I’ve been working for Smith Environmental I’ve found the people that work in the water and wastewater industry are a dedicated group that takes their profession of protecting the citizens of their communities and our valuable resource, water, very seriously. I hope the people I work with see the same thing in me.

When people find out I used to be a pilot they ask how I ended up in the water and wastewater industry. I tell them I just got lucky.