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Member Spotlight: Don Thomas

Posted By Christine O'Connell, Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thomas Industrial Coatings (St. Louis, MO)

Thomas Industrial Coatings (TIC) was established in 1991 by owner Don Thomas and his wife Claudia. Based on the cornerstones of Safety, Quality, and Productivity, Thomas Industrial Coatings has grown into one of the premier industrial painting companies in the country.  Each year TIC maintains a workforce of 150- 200 painters who work on bridges, overpasses, military bases, water towers, lock and dams, ground storage tanks, and marine vessels.  Providing services such as work platforms for access, abrasive blasting, and painting; TIC is capable and willing to handle the most difficult projects in industrial painting. 

Don shares some of the keys to his success.

“Relationships with other contractors in the construction industry are pivotal to our success.  Providing a safe, quality product in an efficient manner has helped create a network of companies that value and respect each other’s work.  It is these established relationships that benefit Thomas Industrial Coatings and the entire industry.

Recruiting and growing a well-rounded, highly skilled workforce that is able to meet the diverse demands of the projects we encounter is the most essential part of being successful. With Safety at the forefront, TIC is regularly a CREST Award winner for Safety.”

In 2017, the SSPC George S Campbell Award and CoatingsPro Magazine’s Contractor Award, were granted to Thomas Industrial Coatings for their work on the Eads Bridge in downtown St. Louis. This project serves as a great example of the people who represent the company. 

Every contractor has a different motivation for joining PDCA.

“At TIC, we feel it is very important to belong to and support an organization that has the best interest of our industry in mind. It is important to recognize that our strength as an industry comes when we all work together to establish and achieve goals.”

Belonging to the PDCA is one of the business practices implemented by Thomas Industrial Coatings to help grow knowledge of the industry, add legitimacy to work practices, and develop a network of owners who share a common theme for success.

“Our PDCA membership supports and helps validate the business practices we strive to meet with each project we encounter. Our goal is to provide a safe, quality, and productive industrial painting service to our customers. The PDCA organization helps to legitimize our process.”

We asked what PDCA benefit was most valuable to the business. “For us, it is opportunity to network with like-minded people with similar passions for success in our industry. The PDCA is an organization that affords us one of these opportunities.”

On the topic of what PDCA Industry Standards have been most helpful:

“The Standards, as a whole, establish the ground rules of each project. At TIC we emphasize communication within our company and with the customer. An established scope of work is the communication tool that is most significant in the customer relationship. It also provides the substance of our internal conversations from the field to the office. The reference documents and standards for each specification create a common vocabulary that helps eliminate any confusion on the part of the contractor or customer.”

We always ask what our contractors feel is the biggest concern facing the painting industry. Here is Don’s answer:

“Our concerns are similar to many of the other construction trades and it is the ability to find people that are qualified to do the work in our trade. Working in industrial painting requires a great degree of skill, work ethic, and dedication. 

People are our greatest resource and we believe for our company to grow, we must invest in each of them. 

If they are successful, the company, as a whole, will be successful.”

Here is how TIC approaches the problem.

“Our biggest recruiting resource is ourselves. We pride ourselves in being a company that is dedicated to people who work with us and being a company that attracts some of the best workers in the industry.  We are a union company, but many of our painters have spent their entire career with us. As a company that just passed its 25th birthday, we are seeing a new generation of the same family representing TIC in the field and in the office.  This continuity provides a safe, quality product for our customer. There is a consistency in place that would not be possible if we had a more transient workforce. We take a great deal of pride in being a company that provides opportunities for our people to grow professionally and personally.  We feel this is our best way to attract and maintain a skilled and diverse workforce that can meet the needs of an ever-changing industry.”

“The best advice we can give a fellow or prospective member is to recognize the demands of the construction industry, have the resources to meet those demands, and have vision to recognize future demands. Communication plays a vital role in the success of any organization, both internally and externally. Value communication every step of the way. Recognize the importance of the people in the field; they are truly the most knowledgeable of daily activity.”

“Develop a network of peers and organizations that respect the product you provide. Building this type of reputation is essential in building a company that can sustain itself. Recognize that a reputation is built every day, with every action and conversation.

Belonging to the PDCA is one of the business practices implemented by Thomas Industrial Coatings to help grow the knowledge of industry, add legitimacy to work practices, and develop a network of owners that share a common theme for success.”

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