TulsaPeople Q&A: Paul Nosak
Owner, Nosak Tree Service; former Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
A modern-day Renaissance man, Paul Nosak wears many hats, including the signature red, white and blue hard hat he sported during an unsuccessful attempt earlier this year to become the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. Nosak, 40, also owns a roofing and restoration company, as well as a tree-removal service and a television production company. In 2007 he combined two of his enterprises to produce his own reality TV show, “Nosak Raw,” which chronicles the exploits of his tree-removal crew. A derivative of that show was licensed to The Learning Channel in 2008 and adapted into the series “Saw for Hire.” The original series, Nosak Raw, is scheduled to begin syndication this month (visit www.nosakraw.com for show times).
The youngest of seven children born to parents of Polish, Italian and Russian lineage, Nosak grew up on a small farm in Pennsylvania but came to Tulsa to attend high school at Victory Christian School. He has two children, a 13-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter. They reside on a 10-acre farm in Owasso.
You’ve described yourself as a “patriotic American.” What other adjectives describe you?
Hard working. Determined. Having a heart of service.
You started a roofing business in 1991, and you’ve come to specialize in high-profile projects like the roof on the Skelly Mansion. How did that happen?
I saw a need, so I had some fliers made, borrowed a ladder and tied it to the top of my car. I started knocking on doors, and 60 or 70 doors later, I made $90. I cleaned a lady’s gutters, and while I was up there, I discovered she had rotten soffit. So I gave her a price on fixing that, and she had a tile roof. The wheels started spinning. I was an entrepreneur hungry to make a living, and I saw that there were tons of tile roofs.
And that led to the tree-trimming and removal business?
For a lot of jobs, I would throw in taking the tree off the house with my crane to get the roofing job, which was where my money was at the time. I didn’t realize that I was missing out on a large portion of revenue.
You consider yourself an environmentalist, yet you cut down trees. Isn’t that a conflict of interests?
I take out deadly, dangerous trees, trees that will cut houses in half. I’m not out cropping forests. We’re taking out trees that have served their time. I’ve milled many of the logs we have recovered and given those beams away to people just because I enjoy doing it. The environment and the tree industry go hand in hand. We need to save the great trees and the national parks, but there is such an abundance of pulp across this great land of ours. We need to find a way to make paper water bottles. If we do our part, the next big boom of the economy will be the automation of the recycling industry.
Earlier this year you spent four months restoring the exterior of a historic mansion near 18th and Madison in the Maple Ridge district.
What did that entail?
I had been driving past that house since 1991, talking to it, saying, “I’m going to do that roof someday.” I went into it with the main thought of fixing the roof and the waterproofing system, but I noticed that the brick was deteriorating because the galvanized guttering had failed. And because the brick had deteriorated, the windowsills were rotting. Everything led to something else. The types of detail that went into that you don’t even see in some new construction jobs. I searched through hundreds of panes of old glass to find the 87 pieces we needed to fix the broken windows. I measured out to the gram the mortar color and the oxides to match the existing mortar. Every corbel was hand-made on site. I personally soldered every joint on the copper gutter system. We bent the guttering to the exact shape of the old galvanized system to match the original. Everything we did was to preserve the house historically.
What inspired you to turn your tree-removal service into a self-funded reality TV show, “Nosak Raw”?
People came out with lawn chairs every time we showed up to work. They were fascinated by how we would take down a 100-foot oak tree from a back yard using a crane and set it in the front yard in seven or eight pieces. I began to handpick my men and women around their personalities, not just their abilities, as if I were building a cast, not a crew. And I’m the catalyst who brings out their emotion. That interaction is what I saw, and I thought, “This is just like a TV show.” But it’s not a show about trees. Trees are just the background, the setting that brings us together. And I decided from the beginning that I was not going to edit out our mistakes. It shows the raw side of business. Everything I’ve done in my life has been on a set course because I have known that I was born to serve. This was not about a TV show. It was to build the Nosak brand to run for office later.
Speaking of which, you lost in the Republican primary in July, ending your bid to become lieutenant governor. How disappointed were you?
I don’t think I was disappointed at all. I was really in a tough race. I had to enter somewhere, and I am not afraid of losing. I am a man of determination. I took a good whipping in the lieutenant governor race, but I’m delighted because, in my opinion, that just leaves room for that much more of a miracle when I win at whatever it is I run for in the future.
So you plan to run again?
I do, but I’m not prepared to reveal details. I believe it is my duty as an American, as an Oklahoman, to step up and help change the way we do business, the way our laws are carried out and the way we spend money as a state. Where will I be placed and where will I go? I’m not prepared to make that statement, but I do know we have started a movement. The response I got after the election was much greater than I had expected. People are realizing that Paul Nosak is here to stay.
Editor’s note: Interview has been condensed and edited.