The Jet

Bill Vinsko's uncommon ability to make peace with the sharks

Published in 2008 Pennsylvania Rising Stars — December 2008

Ask Paula Vinsko about her husband, Bill, and she'll take you back to Bishop Hoban High School in Wilkes-Barre.

"We were in homeroom together for four years," she says. "I was attracted to his sense of independence. He didn't go with the crowd—he wasn't a drinker or the party guy—but he was still very popular. He was Tony in West Side Story."

Still is. Only now he gets paid to keep the sharks at bay.

 

Vinsko is managing principal and founder of Vinsko & Associates, a three-attorney firm that specializes in real estate, corporate law and government matters. He's still in Wilkes-Barre, the city where he was raised and went to college (he attended King's College); he even represents it as an assistant city attorney. In an early case he was asked to go to court and request a 15-day continuation regarding a $14 million loan the city had defaulted on. The mayor was to appear with him but didn't show. The judge wasn't pleased. He gave Vinsko one hour to get the mayor into court, adding, "And if you don't, you're not going to want to be standing in front of me."

Responded Vinsko: "Your honor, I don't want to be standing in front of you now."

Silence. Then chuckles from the bench.

"Because you made me laugh, Mr. Vinsko, I am going to grant you your request," the judge said.

The city and bank worked out a deal.

 

Vinsko's bonhomie and good judgment have also won him opportunities outside of law. During the winter of 2005 he met with the owner of a struggling wholesale pharmacy. Acting as attorney and business adviser, Vinsko worked to turn around the business. The owner was so grateful he invited him to become a partner.

"It was very scary and it remains a challenge," he says. "We inherited a very difficult situation. The biggest challenge was the fact that my law practice is my main focus."

He expects the pharmacy to become profitable next year.

 

He also owns and runs a mortgage company with his wife (Franklin South Mortgage) and is thinking about running for local office (his grandparents both served stints as city controller). Has he found a 25th hour in the day?

"I like to get up early and work late," he says simply. "And I love what I do."

And he has Paula, his Maria. Not only is she his partner at home, where they have a 5-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, but also at work as the firm's business manager. Their rule is no business talk after 10 p.m. "She works as hard as—if not harder than—I do," he says. "I have the greatest wife in the world."

It's a musical all around. "It's a wonderful thing to work with your spouse," she says.

And to get up knowing you have the ability to calm people down and work out solutions.

"At the end of the day, nothing is more satisfying than knowing I have made a difference in someone's life," Vinsko says. "It may sound like a cliché but it is what keeps me going."

He's cool, boy.        

 

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