After Hours: Jerry Thomas

Jerry Thomas
Superintendent, Wespac Construction
Years at HINES: 11

Jerry Thomas handles on-site supervision of day-to-day construction activities, including quality control, material delivery, subcontractor schedules, daily reports, safety meetings, detailing, project closeouts and project meetings for owners, architects and subcontractors. After a long day of work, though, Thomas puts in a few extra hours at the gym to train for extreme activities, including one of the most eccentric and challenging races in the country — Escape from Alcatraz, which he completed last April.

What did you think you’d be when you grew up? 

Fireman or police officer.

Of what personal or professional accomplishment are you most proud?

I’m most proud of a Wespac project I did in Central Coast, Calif., The Clubhouse at Trilogy Monarch Dunes. This elaborate and one-of-a-kind clubhouse won a Gold Nugget award.

Best business advice you’ve been given?
Always put your family first and no matter how hard you work, it will always be there tomorrow.

Advice you’d share with people early in their real estate career?

Location, location, location.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I love old-time movies and musicals, including Turner Classics.

One of your hobbies includes extreme racing. Why did you register for the Escape from Alcatraz race?

During Christmas time, I was surprised over dinner by my 10-year-old godson, Bennett Curran, who told me he was escaping Alcatraz and swimming to shore with his swim team. I thought he was crazy, along with his parents, for letting him do this. However, he explained that he is on a team that supports F.A.S.T. (Foundation for Aquatic Safety and Training), which encourages kids saving kids. His excitement was contagious and inspired me. The more I thought about it, I thought this is a great cause and a way to get into shape, so I decided I’d like to join and swim with my godson. Of course, then everyone thought I was crazy — my wife even increased my life insurance benefit. As it turned out, Bennett was one of the youngest and I was one of the oldest to swim with F.A.S.T. and escape Alcatraz. What an experience!

What was your experience like?
It was harder than I originally thought, especially once we started training. This consisted of jumping into Bartlett Lake every week in the middle of winter. The water was 50 degrees, which was rough. It was difficult to support one another and, at times, we definitely had second thoughts, but we both hung in there, toughed it out and kept training. During the actual Alcatraz swim, when we were all jumping off the boat, I ended up swallowing half of the San Francisco Bay thanks to another little swimmer who accidentally jumped on top of me in his excitement to escape. After choking for a long while, we were guided to a different and farther route to swim because of the changing rip tide currents. The sea was very choppy, but in the end we both went on to finish in 1 hour 17 minutes and swam just under two miles. We ended the race tired and cold but very proud. We celebrated with everyone at Ghirardelli Square over a gigantic ice cream sundae called the “Earthquake.”

Have you competed in any other extreme races or have any similar adrenaline-rush activities/hobbies?

I parachute, scuba dive and am a mono ski racer. I am looking forward to swimming with Bennett again next year to support F.A.S.T. 2015 at Alcatraz, as well as swim under the Golden Gate Bridge. We also recruited Bennett’s brother, Jonathan, so it’ll be another exciting year.

How much time to do train every day/week?
After work, I swim three to four times a week and work out at the gym two to three times a week. It’s definitely difficult to balance extreme sports training with a work schedule and personal life, but it all was worth it and very rewarding in the end. I proudly display my medal at my home to keep me motivated.

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About Amanda Ventura

Amanda Ventura is an editor, award-winning writer and pop culture enthusiast. When she's not up against deadlines, she is exploring Arizona, trying recipes that require every dish in her kitchen be used, collecting 5K swag bags and race numbers and volunteering at a local animal shelter. Her bookshelf is full of autobiographies and her desk is covered in Sticky Notes. She dislikes the Oxford comma and still cannot believe she gets to meet and write about interesting people for a living.