profiles - a light-hearted look at industry personalities
No. 72 in a continuing series
CEO, Tomcat USA
John H. James is seen by many in the industry as an International Man of Mystery, but to his colleagues in Midland, Texas, where Tomcat USA are based, he's anything but. Several people have approached Tomcat staff at tradeshows asking intriguing questions about him. They all want to know more about the man behind the façade. Where's he from? How did he get involved with Tomcat? How long has he been with Tomcat? What does he do in his spare time? Does he work 24 hours a day? When does he find time to sleep? And of course all the ladies want to know if he's available.
Those who work with him every day find it somewhat surprising that so many don't know anything about him. And they are amused that people are so curious. Admittedly, there is an air about John that some might find a touch intimidating at first. However, as one colleague explained, after you've seen him fall out of his chair laughing so hard that he's actually crying over a comment you've made, you realize that he's just like your best buddy from High School.
Raised in San Antonio, Texas by a single mom with six children to take care of couldn't have been an ideal childhood, however, John tells stories of great memories of mayonnaise sandwiches and his days of working at McDonalds in those polyester pants. But one thing that is always comes through strongly when discussing his childhood is the huge amount of respect he has for his mother, obviously a major inspiration in his life.
Graduating from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, John went on to pursue a Master of Public Administration from Texas A&M University. Upon graduating, he went to work for the City of Bryan, Texas as the Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development where he was involved in the management of the 58,000 population community of Bryan and their 125 million dollar budget. The City Manager at the time was Ernie Clark, father of Mitch Clark, the President of Tomcat Global. Apparently Ernie thought John would be an excellent employee (either that or he just wanted to get rid of him!) and recommended him to Mitch at a time when Tomcat was in need of a General Manager. John duly accepted and moved to Midland to become the Vice President and General Manager of Tomcat USA in 1995. A year later he advanced to become the Director of International Sales and Marketing for Tomcat USA, managing the sales and marketing for the worldwide operations of Tomcat Global.
In 1998 he was then promoted to CEO for Tomcat USA and Tomcat de Mexico. As CEO, he is involved in many aspects of the company and no job is too big or small for him. From putting up decorations at the company Christmas party to negotiating contracts with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, John is always very inspiring with his positive attitude, vast array of ideas and endless supply of energy.
Going beyond his day job, he has always been an advocate of charities, politics, and getting involved in the community. Outside of work, he has served on many local boards over the years such as the Midland Chamber of Commerce, the Midland College Board of Trustees, the Midland Community Healthcare Services, and the Midland Economic Development Corporation. But his biggest passion is politics. Most recently he served as the west Texas Campaign Representative for US Senate candidate Ron Kirk as well as being the Campaign Manager for a Midland Candidate for city council.
On the social side, there is the endless supply of blind dates everyone at the office sets him up on - making for fun stories the next day. Where does he find the time and the energy? Well, if you've ever seen him walking around on the tradeshow floor he's usually courting a can of red bull - so that could explain the energy equation.
With his excellent sense of humor, his helping heart, and his knack for making everyone around him want to be all they can be, it's hard not to be drawn to John James or at the very least intrigued by him. His excellent leadership skills have contributed to Tomcat's growth and success with such an impact that most say they would follow him anywhere.
Look out for the next subject in our Profile series...
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