Sally Thomas, 40Co-ownerJ.P Thomas & Co.
While other teenage girls received their high school education, Sally Thomas was also learning tire business 101.
A co-owner at J.P. Thomas & Co. with her brother, Bryan, Thomas began to understand what it takes to be successful in the tire industry while still in high school when she started working for her dad, learning the business from the ground up.
“As a teenager, I did everything from filing invoices, helping with statements, posting payments, delivering tires, working on the front counter, shuttling customers and picking up parts,” Thomas says.
Thomas’ father, J. Paul Thomas, started the company out of the driveway of their home in Asheboro, N.C. , in 1981.Today, J.P. Thomas & Company is an award-winning, multi-division independent company with 180 employees across 15 facilities, focusing on tires, automotive service and parts. Businesses include Thomas Tire & Automotive, Thomas Tire Commercial & Off-Road, Mighty Auto Parts and East Coast Tires.
Upon the death of their father, she stepped into the role of COO of the retail and commercial division. Under her leadership, the business has expanded to almost twice its size in the last three years. It was also recognized as one of the “Fast 50” companies in the Triad region.
What she loves most about the business are the people. “Whether it be colleagues, employees or customers, being in the tire and automotive industry has given me the opportunity to meet some of the finest people in the country,” she says.
Among those fine people are her employees. Thomas credits her team as her main source of inspiration, the push behind her success. “Their dedication, work ethic, positive energy and support keep me striving to be the best leader I can be,” she says. “We have a positive company culture with really strong employee engagement and we have fun together. In business, I believe everything starts from the top and works its way down. People in leadership roles can choose to either be a ‘fountain’ or a ‘drain’ – I prefer to be a fountain.”
To stay on top, Thomas reads multiple industry publications and books on leadership and business. She also commits to continuing her education on topics that align with corporate goals. “I’ll take any seminar/training that I think will benefit me or my company,” Thomas said. “I am also a member of the DSP Twenty Group, which continues to challenge me to meet and exceed goals that are set.” The DSP Twenty Group is a small group of tire and auto-service dealers who meet several times each year to share ideas and best practices.
For Thomas, true success transcends the bottom line. “I consider myself successful when I am living my personal mission: To inspire and look for inspiration; to embrace challenges and change; to be accountable and make an impact; to live by values that guide every decision; and to love wholly, passionately and fiercely.”