Olin Thompson Commercial Construction

Olin Thompson: Working to Live, Living to Work

If there’s one thing that Olin Thompson is self-aware of in life, it’s what he loves.

Golfing. Surfing. Hunting.

Anything with a rod and reel in his hand.

“Pretty much any time I can get outside, I’m outside,” Thompson said.

But he also knows that to live, you have to work.

And it could be easy to say “work gets in the way of play,” but for Thompson, being a Project Manager and Estimator for Spain Commercial, Inc. it’s a little more complicated than that.

“I love what I do,” Thompson said. “I love who I do it for. I love who I work with.”

Thompson grew up in Newport News, played golf at Warwick High School, and did a lot of swimming as a kid. Little known fact: Thompson even went to the Junior Olympics for swimming.

After graduating from high school, Thompson went straight to work, first with a plaster and acoustics company.

It wasn’t that he always dreamed of going into the construction business.

“I wanted to work, I knew I was done with school, and I wanted to keep busy,” Thompson said.

In addition to spending time in sports, he had spent a great deal of time with a hammer in his hand as a young teenager, building skateboarding ramps.

“I knew that I loved building things,” Thompson said.

He started out as a general laborer, learning how to frame walls, do plaster and hang ceilings.

Then he moved on to work on custom home builds before taking a break from construction to work in sales.

Olin Thompson Spain Commercial Project Manager

In 2005, Thompson realized sales was not where he wanted to be, and he learned about an opportunity to join Spain Commercial, Inc.

“Steve Spain is a general contractor and up to that point everyone I had always worked for was specialized,” Thompson said. “I really wanted a change and wanted to get into general contracting.”

Spain hired Thompson as a superintendent working in the field and running jobs on site.

“I started and I started fast,” Thompson said. “I like to move fast – get in, get a job done right, and get it done quick.”

What also happened fast was Thompson’s love for Spain Commercial, Inc.

“It became quickly more than just a job,” Thompson said. “I gained special friendships here.”

With the guys. With the Spain family. With clients. With everyone.

“The relationships we have all across the company are more than just employee and boss or co-workers,” Thompson said.

That’s especially true about the relationship Thompson has with Spain.

“I love that man dearly for all he’s done to change me for the better,” Thompson said. “Steve is fantastic mentor. He is a very patient man. He is a very caring man. He is very involved in everything – a leader who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get dirty with you. You could go to 100 different companies just like this one and you won’t find an owner who knows as much about his people and his projects as Steve does.”

That, in effect, is what sets Spain Commercial, Inc. apart, Thompson said, from other companies.

“Everyone here is like family,” Thompson said. “It’s a brotherhood. If somebody falls, we help them. We all have the same goal in mind – complete a project as efficiently and economically as possible to help our clients reach their own goals.”

Olin Thompson Commercial Construction

What does that look like for Thompson?

It involves a lot of coaching with clients, for one.

“Over the years, new products have come out and construction trends have evolved,” Thompson said. “But I like to think we all stay on top of all those things, and work with people to help them get what their vision is in a budget they can afford.”

In looking back over the projects he’s led for Spain Commercial, Inc. since 2005, Thompson said some of what he’s most proud of are what he calls the “ground up” construction.

From 15,000 to 36,000-square-feet buildings, these “ground-up” projects are just that – construction that starts with raw land and from it comes an operational structure.

“Ground-up takes a little more planning and knowledge on what you’re doing,” Thompson said. “There are a ba-zillion different elements, but our team is extremely well skilled in it.”

They’re also well-skilled in interior renovations, which Thompson has done a great deal of over the years, too.

“Our favorite part of the process is seeing a project completed,” Thompson said. “Even more so, seeing the looks on the faces of our clients when they see their vision come to life. They’ve started with an idea, then gone to a quote, a design and then the build and opening.”

People are spending money that they’ve worked hard for to build things to grow their businesses, Thompson said.

That’s why “we work hard to build them something that they are going to enjoy and get something out of for a long time to come.”

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