Ricky Simpson is a project manager at Thomas Industrial Coatings. Here he talks about growing up around industrial painting, the Thomas family and his career with the company so far.
What is your official job title at Thomas Industrial Coatings?
I’m a project manager.
When did you begin working with the company?
I began in March of 2006.
Was this your first job in the industry or had you worked with other companies before this?
Well my dad had his own sandblasting and painting company. So in high school and in college I would help out with his business in the summer. So I had been around it for a while before I came here. I left for college, and then out of college I came straight to Thomas.
What position did you hold when you joined Thomas?
I was a painter. I’ve only been a project manager for about three months now. I was blasting and painting for about six years before.
What sort of training did you undergo when you arrived at Thomas?
I went through an apprenticeship. I came in as a second-year apprentice, learning everything from residential to commercial to industrial. Then I took classes in respiratory safety, rigging, brushing and rolling and all the rest.
Do you learn to specialize in an area, or do you learn various disciplines?
You basically learn it all in the apprenticeship program. Much of what you learn as an apprentice doesn’t directly apply to the industrial side of the business, until you get into the second and third years.
When I first started out it was paintbrushes and latex paints, stuff that we don’t normally use, but it’s great practice for working in other areas. It gives you a taste of a little bit of everything in the painting industry, so I think it’s good.
Are you currently on a job?
Yes. I’m at the Eads Bridge and I’ve been here for a little over a year. It’s nice because I’m from St. Louis.
Are you traveling often?
Not too often. I would say that in my six years with Thomas I’ve been traveling for about one. I have some little ones at home so staying in town works well for me.
Given the types of situations in which you work, how doe Thomas Industrial Coatings demonstrate that they take your safety seriously?
Well it’s definitely something that’s communicated to us on a daily basis, the importance of safety. It’s always a part of the conversation. Whether it’s when we switch gears on job-site and we’re talking about new safety considerations, or it’s the equipment that we’re provided. Our equipment is always top-notch. We’re not being slighted on that. It’s definitely a high priority.
Did you know anything about the reputation of Thomas Industrial Coatings before you began working for them?
Yes. I’ve known Donnie Thomas since I was six years old. I graduated from school with a lot of the guys who now work here. My dad started out working for Donnie, and he’s working for Thomas again now. It’s a bit of a family thing.
Knowing their reputation like you do, what do you think general contractors expect from Thomas when they’re on the job-site?
Well you’re going to get a quality product and your job will be done on time. We stand out as far as the safety numbers we put up, and the precautions that we take as well. We go above and beyond what most companies do. We set the bar pretty high.
If someone were to ask you why they should work at Thomas Industrial Coatings, what answer would you give them?
Well it’s a great opportunity to provide for you and your family. Also, you come to work and the number one concern is that you leave unharmed. It’s a really safe place to work. And if you like physical labor and teamwork, this is the place to be.
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