Employee Spotlight

Employee Spotlight: Wayne Thomas, Project Manager

 The Man in the Arena

The question that sealed the deal for Wayne Thomas was “Why don’t you go see the world for a few years?

Learning Infrastructure and Construction with The Fighting Seabees

Upon graduation from high school in the small town of Faith, North Carolina, Thomas tried his hand at college but knew he wanted something different. He embarked on a journey that led him around the world with the U.S. Navy. After boot camp, Thomas traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi to complete his Construction Electrician A School. The certification put him in the only self-sufficient unit of the United States Military, a branch of the U.S. Navy called The Fighting Seabees. From state-of-the-art bases and high-tech communication centers to port facilities and airstrips, The Seabees complete hundreds of construction projects all over the world each year.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly.

Thomas began his career with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-7 (NMCB-7), during which he completed deployments to Puerto Rico (two tours), Korea, Japan, Cuba, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Vieques Island, and Hawaii. He helped during the Haitian refugee crisis, built tent camp cities, performed hurricane disaster recovery missions, built bridges, hospitals, and roads. It was on his tour to Hawaii that he met his wife, Amy, who at the time was a Radioman in the U. S. Navy. Thomas then transferred to the Naval Securities Group Activity Kunia and remained in Hawaii for another tour, leading the small projects division and maintenance for the secure facilities.

Worldwide Special Security Systems at the State Department

Following his tour in Hawaii with the NSGA Kunia, Thomas was selected to transfer to the State Department in Washington, DC to attend six months of training and was appointed to the Diplomatic Security Division as a Technical Security Specialist. Part of Thomas’ job description included the maintenance of classified vaults, installation, and maintenance of Delta barriers, all passive inferred devices, microwave devices, and the installation and maintenance of alarm systems for all U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world. This job took him on tours to Iceland, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Rome, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, France, and Ukraine. It was during this time in which he was honored with the Marine Corps Man of the Year Award and the State Department’s Meritorious Service Award.

Thomas made his way back to the states for Instructor Duty at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. While on base, he taught Construction Electrician A School for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Through his service he received honors such as Instructor of the Quarter (eight times) and Sailor of the Year. He also earned his Master Training Specialist Certification, Drill Instructor Qualification, and was promoted to Chief Petty Officer during this tour. After his time at Sheppard Air Force Base, Thomas completed tours such as Quality Control Chief for NMCB-7, Combat Mission Commander (four times) in Iraq, Operations Chief in Afghanistan, and Base Future Operations Chief for Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Civilian Life with Ivey Mechanical

Thomas retired from the U.S. Navy in 2013 as a Chief Petty Officer with 20 years and 26 days of service to our country. Almost every job he performed while in the Navy was completely different than the one before, which is what he loved the most about his service. Thomas made the move to civilian life after his retirement and joined the Ivey Mechanical family as a Project Manager for the Gallatin Business Unit.

“I didn’t initially bring technical knowledge to this job. Every day I work to develop that and utilize our company leadership and professionals in the field for what I lack in technical proficiency. What I bring to Ivey is more from an operational management prospective,” Thomas explained. “The truth is that the U.S. Navy Seabees is the largest construction firm in America, and construction is construction, so the characteristics behind what we do and how we manage that is essentially the same.”

Loyalty, trust, and relationships are key components of any and all job descriptions, and Thomas feels strongly about the relationships he has built with Ivey. “I am a loyalist with people, and the relationships I have built here with all the guys are important to me. I believe wholeheartedly in those relationships, and they are the key to success for everyone… You know, I have lived my life under challenges, and this job is very challenging. There are so many aspects to project management. It allows me to build customer relationships, manage clients, and bring in new work opportunities along with the job management. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons why I feel so comfortable here.”

During Thomas’ many tours he kept a copy of Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech in his wallet to remind him of why he began this journey in 1993 and he continues to live his life in that manner; daring greatly, spending himself in a worthy cause, striving valiantly, devoted to the cause. Because at best he knows, “…in the end the triumph of high achievement, and at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Ivey Mechanical’s best asset is our people, and our success is dependent on their development. If you’re interested in a career with Ivey Mechanical, please browse our open positions on our Careers page.