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Chamber Spotlight: Jeff Thomas, SHINE Systems

Jeff Thomas Inc 500 pic in Daily Progress

Jeff Thomas is CEO of SHINE Systems. He is also the Vice-Chairman for Small Business & Strategic Interests of the Chamber Board of Directors.

What was your first job?

Programmer/Analyst for a Defense contractor named Planning Research Corporation in McLean, VA.

What is unique about your organization and the work you do in our community?

I have 4 companies, and SHINE Systems does Federal contracting in the analytics (including worldwide locations) and systems and software engineering; SHINE Management does C/Sr level advisory and fractional services in marketing, operations, IT, finance, sales, HR, and recruiting; SHINE Innovations does all things IT and IP in the commercial arena; and my last company will launch this Fall.

Why did you choose the Charlottesville area?

A job brought me here many years, and I love the quality of life offered here in a variety of areas such as the arts, fun activities, dining options, education at all levels, a rich non-profit community for all interests, cultural diversity, history and tradition, UVa sports, and business friendly opportunities to grow individually and professionally.

What’s most important for the future of our regional business community?

To offer assistance in many forms and a voice to those businesses helping shape that community now and in the future.

What were you like in high school?

Gregarious, captain of football and baseball teams as well as graduated 3rd in my class.

What's the best advice you ever got (or gave)?

As a business leader I often give this advice and live it every day: my greatest daily challenge is discerning when I need to lead my company/team versus when I need to serve them.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you at work?

On my first day at work in Charlottesville, my car was towed from a Downtown parking location. As I walked down East High Street to retrieve it, a trailer with firewood became unhitched came up on the sidewalk and came within inches of hitting me. As if that weren’t enough, a car pulled into Tubby’s Subs and did not see me walking in the parking lot and came within inches of hitting me. And the bill was $30 to get my car! None of these were very funny then but in looking back I can laugh.

How did you choose the field you’re in?

For my entire adult life, I have been an entrepreneur at heart and finally had peace about launching a new company much later in life and when the market was not primed for new business startups (’07-08). It was truly a leap of faith.

Who are you grateful to, and why?

To my parents who taught me mental toughness, empathy, courtesy, and leading/working by example AND to two great business mentors, one early (Dick Bodson) and a different one late (Doug Keach) in my career, who taught me the business skills I have and the desire and pursuit of learning. And to my daughters who in their unspoken way challenge me to grow and show me who I am.

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