When you have someone as multi-talented as Kim Thomas, Director of Operations for Dewitt Tilton Group, a “typical day” is usually anything but typical.
“It does vary pretty dramatically for me,” she said with a laugh. “On a design day, I’m working with structural engineers, mechanical engineers and owners. If we’re putting out a bid, I’m working with Chris (Tilton, President) on qualifying bids and working with Baileigh (Kelly, Office Manager) on looking at plans and putting out bids…. Every day is kind of different in the commercial construction world.”
And that’s just on the front end of a job. On the back end, she is the company’s first defense against minor setbacks and issues that come up along the way, the one keeping schedules running seamlessly and the one following up with clients to ensure every detail exceeds their expectations.
“Right now I have eight design builds in one stage or another, so this is kind of a busy design stage,” she said. “We have jobs coming to an end and jobs starting all at once. You never know who’s going to walk in the door.”
That flexibility comes naturally to Thomas, whose father served in the United States Air Force in maintenance. Having bounced around the United States and Germany growing up, she’s used to change. And she considers the work she does now as an extension of her dad’s work in the Air Force and as a carpenter in the civilian world, letting her follow in his footsteps.
“And I’m always learning,” she said.
That learning started at Pittsburgh Technical Institute, where she earned degrees in specialized technology and computer graphics/architectural CADD. That augmented on-the-job learning she’d already spent a lifetime accumulating.
“I absolutely love the design part of it because that’s what I hold my degree in. I’ve always done it,” she said. “My dad’s a carpenter by trade and we built several houses together…I was in sixth grade on the roof snapping chalk lines and laying down shingles. I’ve hammered, pulled wire, hung sheetrock, trimmed, painted, laid tile, grouted tile… I had already done all these things.”
That practical knowledge, paired with the education she received at PTI, propelled her into a celebrated career in commercial and industrial construction, earning a certificate from Star Building Systems for successful completion of Star Buildings Systems’ Basic Building School and the Clemson Extension Leadership Program, along the way.
“I cut my teeth in the residential world, and now we’re in the commercial and industrial construction world, which comes with a whole new set of rules – you don’t build the same way,” she said. Thankfully, as she has mentioned, she is always learning, and the commercial and industrial construction industry has proven an equally perfect fit for the ever-adaptable Thomas. “Chris and I are constantly watching the market for price changes on materials, working with clients, watching the weather. Something that pops up can change our whole day. You have to be able to adjust on the fly.”
Thankfully, when it comes to flexibility, Dewitt Tilton Group has one of the best in Kim Thomas.