By Thurman Thomas
Life comes at you fast in the NFL – and I took plenty of hard knocks during my days with the Bills. But even after those years on the gridiron, I have learned a lot of new lessons about dealing with the challenges that come with running a construction company.
When my wife, Patti, and I founded 3480 Group, our construction and telecommunications firm, I soon realized that it would take more than toughness to build the strong foundation we needed. However, this experience has also taught me about what our Buffalo community can accomplish when we work together to achieve shared goals of economic growth, job creation and the advancement of minority- and women- owned business enterprises (MWBEs).
Trying to break into this industry sort of reminded me of first stepping onto the field under the eyes of NFL scouts – and it can be a little overwhelming. The construction field is dominated by major players, and smaller startups often struggle to break through and compete for big development projects. I know we did.
But opening our Buffalo office and building partnerships with other locally active contractors has changed the game for 3480 Group – and I believe it is paying off for Western New York families, businesses and workers as well.
One key example is the hard work we are putting in right now to construct a new workforce training center as part of Buffalo’s Northland Corridor light-industrial hub development. Our collaboration with Gilbane Building Co. and its Buffalo-based leadership team is really driving this project and achieving the kind of goals I always wanted to achieve for this city – even beyond my days on the field.
The 100,000-square-foot training center will provide Buffalo residents with opportunities to develop skills, join the workforce and better support their families. However, in the construction business it is not just about the finished product – it is just as much about the process you follow to make it happen. Alongside Gilbane, our priority has been on building collaborative partnerships with locally owned MWBEs and providing good jobs for Buffalo residents – including many minority workers – every step of the way.
I have been particularly excited about bringing on Compliance and Administrative Services of New York, an MWBE whose president, Dolly Randle, has been a key asset in promoting local, minority hiring and strengthening our community outreach. Her role in this project is just another reminder of what Buffalo leadership can do when we build real bonds and tackle every challenge together.
I look forward to completing our Northland Corridor development project with a strong safety record, a quality building and success in meeting all of our local hiring and MWBE goals.
But one other thing I’ve learned about this industry is that it’s always about finding that next big project – and I am excited about what the future holds for our firm and our work throughout Buffalo for years to come.
NFL Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas founded 3480 Group two years ago and maintains the company’s headquarters in Buffalo.