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Entrepreneur humbled by Order of NWT honours
Tom Zubko says his parents and mentors helped him achieve his goals

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tom Zubko credits his parents' influence and them surrounding him with mentors through childhood for his business success, which has now translated into induction to the Order of the NWT.

NNSL photograph

Tom Zubko, owner of New North Networks, was inducted into the Order of the NWT earlier this summer. The entrepreneur has been running New North Networks for more than 25 years. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

"My parents were amazing people and amazing pioneers," said Zubko, owner of New North Networks.

"It was a great way to grow up. I had a lot of good influences from a lot of good people."

He was one of six inducted to the Order of the NWT this year, along with Fred Carmichael, Lynda Koe, Jeff Philipp, Russell King and Paul Andrew. Carmichael, also from Inuvik, was occupied at the time of the event in Yellowknife and plans to officially receive his honour next year.

"I was very surprised," said Zubko about the honour. "It wasn't something I expected at all. I'm proud of it. I'm quite humbled, though, because I've never seen myself in that light. I've seen lots of other people in that light."

He said it was a common theme during the event for recipients to list off the people they thought should have received the award.

"I think all of us were much of the same mindset that it wasn't the kind of thing that we ever looked to be recognized for," he said.

Zubko was born in Aklavik and moved with his family to Inuvik in fall 1959. He pursued aviation, his father's business, when he was a young adult.

In the early 1990s, Zubko had an opportunity to purchase the air rebroadcast company in town. He put in cable and has been in that business ever since, changing the name from Inuvik TV to New North Networks in 1999 to better reflect the company's work.

His company added broadband satellite Internet in 1996, followed by cell service.

Since then, New North has been involved in all manner of communications specialties. Zubko says there's not enough volume in any one area, so he has to diversify.

"Communications is a fairly fast moving technology in all respects," he said. "What we've got today in a lot of ways does not really resemble what we started with 25 years ago, which is really what makes it interesting. You don't get bored in this business."

As for what's next for Zubko, that depends on whom you ask.

"If you talk to my wife, she would tell you that I should be thinking about retiring," he said with a laugh. "It's not really in my nature. If I retired, I'd just be doing something else."

For now, he's excited about the new fibre line and thinks it will mean a lot for people up and down the Mackenzie Valley.

The satellite business in town is still nascent, he added.

"There's a lot of place for that to go," said Zubko.

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