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Powering jobs in the New Energy Economy: Meet Tom Wright
By Tracy Idell Hamilton on April 9, 2014
Tom Wright, 46, is the vice president of operations at LED-lighting company GreenStar.
Wright has been with GreenStar, which Paul Duran started up in Boerne in 2009, for two and a half years. He was introduced to the company through an economic development contact, and found it to be “a perfect fit” for his 21 years of experience of manufacturing experience.
GreenStar was one of CPS Energy’s first New Energy Economy partners, and just reached an exciting milestone: installing its 50,000th LED light worldwide, including 14,000 streetlights in San Antonio, part of a project to upgrade 25,000 lights citywide.
We spoke with Wright as part of our series highlighting some of the local residents who’ve found work in San Antonio’s diverse and growing New Energy Economy.
Describe your background and how GreenStar is such a perfect fit for you.
“After college, I was commissioned as a US Army artillery officer. I left the Army after the first Gulf War, and started to work in manufacturing, using one of my skills from the Army, hazardous waste management. Most recently, I spent eight years working for an aerospace company. At GreenStar I knew I could leverage my 21 years of experience and have an immediate impact.”
What is the most fun about working for a start-up?
“When I joined the company, we were producing roughly 300 units a month. Last month, it was more than 5,000. It is very satisfying to help build a company and see it grow. With a start up, it is easy to see your fingerprints every day. We are a very talent-oriented company and as a start-up you have to be lean, so hiring the right people is essential. We are fortunate to have hired a lot of ‘A Players’ at GreenStar, and its wonderful to be around those kinds of people.”
What are some of the challenges?
“Maintaining focus. There’s always so much to do, much of which is very important. I have to resist the desire to do too many tasks at a time. As a team, we have to remain focused on our mission objectives.”
What advice would you give those seeking a job with a company like GreenStar, or any of CPS Energy’s partners in the New Energy Economy?
“There’s not an expectation that prospective employees will have all the required skills; we look for a positive attitude, and a desire to learn, apply and retain new information.
I used to be responsible for a college engineering Internship program, and we’d tell the students, ‘you go to school to learn the basics – we’re going to teach you how to be an engineer.’ You just have to come with an open mind.”