UBR Spotlight: Food Service Mogul Warren Thompson

This week on The Urban Business Roundtable, UBR Contributor Renita D. Young talks with Warren Thompson, the president and chairman of Thompson Hospitality Corp. (THC), the nation’s largest black-owned food and facilities management company. With 2010 revenues of more than $373 million, Thompson Hospitality is ranked No. 10 on the Black Enterprise 100s list of the nation’s largest Black-owned industrial/service companies.

Born and raised in rural Virginia, Thompson’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked by his parents, who taught him about business and charged him with overseeing the family hog farm. Thompson later launched a career in restaurant management and rose up the ranks in the Marriott Corp. organization, before negotiating a leveraged buyout of 31 Big Boy restaurants to create Thompson Hospitality in 1992. Since then, Thompson has initiated a strategy of diversification to successfully transition the Herndon, Virginia-based THC from a restaurant operation to a food service company with 3,700 employees and contracts with corporate giants such as IBM and American Express as well as more than 90 educational institutions, including 19 historically black colleges and universities.

Today, Thompson counts more than 30 of America’s largest public companies, as well as large urban school districts and major hospital centers, among his clients. In 2010, Thompson Hospitality was named the Black Enterprise Industrial/Service Company of the Year.

Also, UBR Contributor Teria Seah sits down with life coach Valerie Burton, the author of What’s Really Holding You Back?: Closing The Gap Between Where You Are And Where You Want To Be (Waterbook Press). Previously a successful public relations professional, Burton, the founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute (CAPP), a training and leadership development company, is also a highly sought after motivational speaker at events such as the 2011 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit.

In addition, in my “Alfred’s Notepad” segment, I make the case for why entrepreneurs need to respond to these tough economic times with a spirit of gratitude. Taking the time to sincerely and personally thank the employees, customers, clients, and especially your network of supportive family and friends, can go a long way to creating the positive good will and energy to thrive and survive to better days for your business. In fact, such appreciation goes further and means more in times adversity than it does in good times, when we all tend to take our good fortune for granted.

And finally, every week on UBR, you’ll get motivation and inspiration from author and entrepreneurial icon Farrah Gray, a weekly wrap-up of business news from USA Today business correspondent Charisse Jones, our Patient Investor Report from Ariel Investments and key economic intelligence for small business owners from our UBR economists Derrick Collins and Rasheed Carter.

If you have a question you want answered or a topic you want addressed on The Urban Business Roundtable, connect with me at BE Insider, the social media network for people who are serious about Black Enterprise. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.

Alfred Edmond Jr. is the senior VP/editor-at-large of Black Enterprise and the host of the Urban Business Roundtable, a weekly radio show, sponsored by Ariel Investments, airing CST Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m., Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. on WVON-AM 1690, the Talk of Chicago. You can also listen live online at WVON.com. Check back each week for UBR Spotlight, which features additional resources, advice and information from and about the topics, entrepreneurs and experts featured on the show.