Young Gun Tommy Thomas: Switching Gears Into Roofing Industry Develops Into Rewarding Career
Tommy Thomas was a marketing guru by trade that just happened to have a roofing contractor client that he admired. When the opportunity to join the firm materialized, he jumped at the chance to get involved. In the last five years, he’s become a part owner, partner, and executive vice president who oversees the human resources, marketing, finance and service departments.
RC: How long have you been in the roofing industry and how did you get your start?
T.T.: I started in the roofing industry in 2007. During 2003-2007 I had a side marketing business. I was contracted by J.R. Jones to design marketing elements for them and help them with branding, web presence, and marketing materials. It was through that relationship that J.R. Jones learned of my previous general construction experience and many years in the commercial real estate field. They reached out to me about a full-time sales and marketing position. I accepted. I dove into learning everything I could about roofing, even going so far as to take all the state licensing exams in the states that require them.
RC: What are the top reasons why the company is successful?
T.T.: The top reason the company is successful is the people. We put a strong emphasis on company culture and thoroughly vet people that we interview to ensure the team will always be a cohesive unit. We have an amazing team of people with so much experience, integrity, and genuine care for people and their property.
But in addition to the people, we have a unique approach to the customer-contractor relationship, universal manufacturer approval, unmatched safety record, and, of course, quality work without ego so as to admit when we make mistakes. The biggest reason for the growth has to be the recent recession, where most owners/end users have realized that it doesn’t make good business sense to not carefully examine how you spend your money and asking that all-important question of “what am I getting for that money?” Now end users are more cautious about whom they hire to perform their work.
RC: What types of new technology have you recently adopted?
T.T.: We have recently adopted software programs that track estimates, track hours and productivity in the field, manage tool room and equipment, and streamline the service operations. In addition, we are also developing our own project management software, because there was a lack of project management software on the market that really works for what our needs are as a roofing contractor. This is important because technology can make almost every facet of our jobs more efficient, this is the trend we see; automation of everything except the actual roofing.
RC: Do you see a generational difference within your own company?
T.T.: We have people in our company from age 19 to 72. There is so much benefit to having so many different points of view and experiences. This helps us immensely because we don’t just see things through one set of eyes or one focus, but many. The biggest generational gap “challenge” we encounter is the time periods people work. It seems the younger groups always seem to be working through all hours of the night. We’ll get emails or texts at midnight or 1 a.m. from people just up and working away.
RC: Do you see your age as an advantage or disadvantage in this business?
T.T.: When I first started I felt like the industry was “older” and more set in their ways, especially when it came to accepting younger people. I do not feel that anymore. I feel like companies are evolving and growing, not just in their acceptance of people, but also their attitudes and ideologies.
RC: What area of your roofing business are you the most passionate about? Why?
T.T.: I am most passionate about the new technologies, finding new and more efficient ways to track productivity on jobs and providing statistics that help us more accurately predict the outcome of certain tasks.
RC: What’s next?
T.T.: We plan to keep growing. We’ve tripled in size over the past four years, we may not want to grow that rapidly, but continue a sustained growth. In the next five years our plan is to grow our service department in the Houston market to where it becomes 20 percent of our overall gross revenue. Additionally, we’d like to grow our waterproofing corporation to where it becomes equal in gross revenue to the roofing corporation.