Thomas Belk '08 Forges His Own Path
Greenie travels the country for moving/transport profession
The entrepreneurial spirit flows through Thomas Belk '08. Belk credits much of his independent streak and the shrewd decisions he makes as a business owner to Christ School's teachings. Belk's family name is well-known, particularly throughout the Carolinas. His father, Tim, was formerly the CEO of American department store Belk, Inc. But striking out on his own always appealed to Belk, and that's exactly what he did by founding TBIII Pickup Service in 2016. The company served more than 140 clients in over half the country last year. TBIII will undergo a re-branding soon, morphing from local and long-distance moving into furniture transport. Operations will also move from Charlotte to the Greenville, S.C., area. On a personal note, Belk got married last summer to his wife, Catherine, who is an Asheville School graduate.
Question: This is obviously an exciting time for you. How about an update on your company?
Answer: I'm ready to do something a little different. We're going to transition more into furniture transport, picking up for manufacturers and interior designers. We'll continue to transport, upload, and assemble, whether we're in Manhattan or Nashville. We've been all over the country and competed against big, national companies. I have three employees right now. Starting in September, it will be just me. I'll hire out labor instead of having a payroll and rent out Penske trucks. I'll be working out of my house and mainly on the road. We'll still be a full-service company that isn't afraid to go that extra step. Our clients like us a lot. I was fortunate to have a lot of contacts before I started the business. And it grew based off referrals and great customer service. To be honest, most business comes from word of mouth.
Question: What was the motivation for becoming a business owner?
Answer: I like doing my own thing. It's not like I haven't worked for people though. I worked in a wine shop, I worked retail (for Belk). I lived in Portland, Oregon, for a while and wanted to be back home. I worked in advertising for a year in a half. Then I really started to think about doing my own thing. It was definitely a big risk. Even now, a lot of people don't realize what I do. They just know that I travel a lot. I enjoy having my own schedule.
Question: What do you remember about your time at Christ School?
Answer: Christ School taught me how to be independent. When I got to college, you could definitely tell who went to boarding school and who didn't. I didn't get homesick in college and I knew how to manage my time. Christ School taught me not to rely on others for everything. Being able to do my own thing definitely started there. And I will say that Nathan Ruffin '07 has definitely inspired me a lot. He's been very successful with his business (HammerHead Design Build in Winston-Salem, N.C.) and I definitely look up to him.