Mindsight Institute. He received the
IN Business Las Vegas 40 under 40
award. Thomas currently is president
of the TMA Las Vegas Chapter.
Q How did you gravitate into turnaround and restructuring work?
I’ve always been a CPA with
an emphasis on taxation, transaction
planning, and consulting. I went to
Guam with Deloitte in the ‘90s and spent
most of that decade throughout Asia.
That was just at the start of the Japanese
downturn, the Japanese financial crisis,
so I worked significantly with a lot of
Japanese companies in Guam, dealing
with their financial difficulties. That’s
where I first got involved in this area.
Q Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Idaho,
I’ve had family here since the ‘60s. I
grew up in Idaho and visited Vegas
throughout my childhood, and then
moved here full-time right after college.
Q Vegas is one of those places where you don’t find many natives.
No, I’m about as close to a
native as you get, although there are still
a number of folks who were born and
Q Who inspires you professionally and/or personally? Did you have
some mentors along the way?
On a personal level, my
parents were my greatest mentors.
In my professional life, aggressive
entrepreneurs like casino executives
and private business owners have
been, because they’re the kind of
people who keep all the balls in the
air. They are decisive and aggressive
in going after a market. Those are the
people who have mentored me.
I’ve learned a lot from the reading I’ve
done—Peter Drucker, for example.
Obviously he’s someone I thought
provided very good information. At
the same time—this may sound a
little unusual—a neuroscientist by the
name of Dr. Dan Siegel influenced me
a great deal. He’s a neuroscientist in
Los Angeles, and I went to his program
for a year. That was very influential,
because having the ability to understand
neuroscience and be the best you can be
mentally is very important to me as well.
Q What drew you to his program?
I think the whole notion that
we basically accomplish things based on
what we think. When you’re organized
mentally, then you’re much more
productive, positive, and healthy. He’s a
real advocate of “compassionate energy.”
Even in a difficult turnaround situation,
not being overly emotional and dealing
with the situation with compassion,
what drew me to neuroscience—
because the business world is in a state
of disruption. It’s always in a state of
disruption, but especially now. There’s
a lot of uncertainty and confusion
about what the future will be. Being
mentally tough is essential in my
opinion. That’s what I was drawn to.
Q What have been some of your most gratifying, favorite, or
important engagements along the way?
Working with Japanese real
estate companies to start with and
dealing with their situations when their
economy tanked in Japan and Guam. I
had to work with them to navigate
through their finances and their tax
situations. A lot of times, a foreign
company will owe taxes when it doesn’t
really have cash—when it’s a company
that invests in a country—so navigating
around those obstacles is important. It
really helped because we didn’t have to
liquidate assets to pay for taxes or be
subjected to a long payment plan. They
really needed the cash flow to maintain
their current operations.
The other was working with a casino
executive who had a significant
downturn in his stock value. It was
a very challenging experience, but
it was very rewarding to work with
somebody in that situation.
Q Both of those situations involved a state of flux—the rules changed. It
used to be that a casino license was
almost a license to print money. For
years, it was real estate, real estate, real
estate. But then the rules changed.
It did. That was the way it
was in Vegas up until the crash of 2008.
In the ‘90s, there was a big real estate
crash in Guam, so I went through it
then. I got back to the States in the latter
part of the ‘90s, and I worked with a
casino executive who went through a
stock devaluation situation. He told me,
“I bet I’m that last person you’re ever
going to meet who lost his last
$140 million.” Little did I know that 10
years later, more or less, I’d be dealing
with lots of people who lost hundreds
of millions of dollars.
That’s pretty much what happened in
the latter part of the 2000s with the
real estate crash. Vegas was one of the
top cities in the country to have a real
estate devaluation, so I was in the same
situation again, seeing people’s assets
devalued and working with them to
restructure their affairs and helping
to get new financing to take out the
first creditors at a discount and get
relief from significant amounts of debt
because the value just wasn’t there.
Q So you had a leg up on the competition, having been through
a similar situation in Guam?
Yes, I felt like I wasn’t
shocked by it. I felt like I had more
experience with it, so I think I did a
better job, made better decisions faster.
Q If you could start your career over, would you do anything differently
with the benefit of hindsight?
I’m doing it now, but when
I got back to the States, I would have
tried to start some sort of capital
restructuring firm or equity firm. I didn’t
do that when I got back from Guam. I
wish I would have done that at that
point, but I was raising a family and
didn’t want to take that kind of risk or
make the time commitment.
Q What role has your TMA membership played in your career?
It’s significant because,
There’s a lot more private equity in the
country right now, and all trends
indicate it will increase.
Our membership is going to be able to
benefit from potential capital resources
as well as professionals like attorneys
who can provide strategies and solutions
to business challenges and problems.
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