Derrick Thomas

derrick thomas

There is a relatively small segment of leaders in the business world; individuals who are able to build relationships, trust, and rapport with almost anyone, and thus are able to broker those relationships and make connections between people, creating partnerships and alliances, and motivating forward momentum to “get things done”.

With over 30 years of retail and consulting experience, Derrick Thomas is one of those people, and “getting things done” and driving results, through collaboration, partnerships, and relationships, as a Senior Vice President in the retail industry, is what he is all about. With an enthusiastic and genuinely friendly attitude, Mr. Thomas radiates a sincere passion for delivering value and benefits to his customers.

Mr. Thomas studied Business Management and Finance at Wayne State University. He also studied Finance for Non-Financial Leaders at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and is a certified Mentor through the University of Detroit. His professional affiliations and additional training include: Board Member – Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, Board Member – Jump Start Children’s Program, Board Member – Link Unlimited (High School Mentor Program), Servant Leadership Certification, Situational Leadership Certification, Center for Creative Leadership Certification, IHE (Increasing Human Effectiveness) Certification, and Real-Estate License – State of Michigan.

Mr. Thomas is Principal Owner of JB Legacy, where he does executive coaching, management consulting, and real estate investments. He has significant experience presenting at industry conferences, seminars, and workshops. His most recent clients include BGE Real Estate in the Detroit Metropolitan area and Ain’t She Sweet Restaurant in the Chicago land area. Mr. Thomas has also partnered with The Curis Group, in Detroit, on commercial real estate development. He has demonstrated the ability to help organizations, across multiple industries, develop multi-channel customer experience strategies, realign, and redesign their customer facing business processes.

Formerly, the VP of Retail and Licensed stores with Argo Tea Company headquartered in Chicago, IL, Mr. Thomas lead and directed all aspects of Eastern and Midwestern operations with full P&L responsibility. He championed commitment and consistent application of Argo Tea’s passion, vision, and non-negotiables. Mr. Thomas ensured operational excellence and flawless in-store execution in areas of customer satisfaction, product quality, and operational standards, and consistently achieved/exceeded both short and long-term company financial objectives by responsibly growing unit sales and profitability.

As an Operations Director with Dunkin Brands, Mr. Thomas coached the Operations Manager team on restaurant success criteria and effective action planning to include planning, assessing, and recovering. He bridged the gap between leadership and required competencies, took initiative to engage the organization on building skills through self-awareness and personal learning, and increased franchisee accountability through analysis of business and engagement towards restaurant excellence. He, also, ensured alignment between franchisor and franchisee, developed franchisee capability through partnership, education, and coaching, and maintained focus on guest satisfaction, sales growth, and franchisee profitability.

As a top performing Senior Vice President with Advance Auto Parts based in Roanoke, VA with an office in Milford, Michigan, Mr. Thomas managed all facets of Store Operations for the Midwest Area, including staff supervision, and client interaction and relationships. Mr. Thomas’ area did two billion in annual revenue in 2010 (with a 7% overall growth over the prior year and with 12% operating income to the bottom line) generating about 40% of the company’s profit contribution.

Providing strategic direction and leadership to 1300 units/stores and nearly 16,000 employees, which is a third of the company’s total was part of Mr. Thomas’ responsibility. He was also, responsible for 1/3 of the company’s overall portfolio. His direct reports included seven Regional Vice Presidents, Commercial Vice President, Director of Human Resources, Director of Asset Protection, Operations Director, Sales Development Manager, Finance Manager, Executive Assistant, and 100 District Mangers. Mr. Thomas ran another 3% comp versus last year and will probably end the year close to 2.1 billion with the back half of the year and our current run rate, which has been 10% comps.

He achieved the highest overall market share gain in 2009/2010, grew total revenues from 1.5 billion to 1.8 billion over a two year period (2008-2009), maintained consecutive years of the highest overall comparable sales growth and profit growth 8% and 12% respectively, generated 40% of the company’s total operating income and 60% of the company’s total new store growth, and implemented an area succession plan “Next Level Development Group” comprised of the top identified DLs/Support Team Members.

Prior to Advance Auto Parts, Mr. Thomas was a consultant for The Grove, INC, and served as part of a leadership team whose focus was to increase company revenue via acquisitions and brand expansion to all major domestic and international airports. He also served as President and CEO for Emerging Market Restaurant Group where he led a concept to expand a fast-food restaurant chain. Promoted twice in his six-year tenure with Starbucks Coffee Company, culminating in a VP position, Mr. Thomas oversaw 504 stores in several states, with full profit and loss accountability, and provided strategic leadership and direction while accelerating the growth of the company. His direct reports included 7 Regional Directors, 50 District Managers, 600 Store Managers, and over 10, 000 store employees. Mr. Thomas also managed 10 other dotted line reports such as, HR, Marketing, Finance, and Facilities Managers. His major responsibilities included strongly influencing corporate decisions, signing off on site selections, strategic planning, annual operating plan, growth plan, succession planning, and ensuring corporate goals and objectives were met.

Throughout it all, Mr. Thomas has repeatedly proven his ability to lead through diverse and challenging situations. He is an excellent agent of change and has a documented track record of accomplishments that include the turnaround of chaotic and struggling operations; start-up and management of new retail stores; creation and launch of new and improved educational, leadership, and operational programs; and growth and expansion of mature, established operations.

Today, Mr. Thomas resides in the states of Michigan and Illinois. He is seeking the next opportunity and step in his executive career. As he has top-notch qualifications working across the entire retail industry, it is challenging to put his skills in a “box”. Yet, it is absolutely clear that he has a great deal of value to offer the right company. And while the actual job title may vary, it will almost certainly include some combination of strategic planning, operations, partnership and alliance building, and marketing.


  • Grew total revenues from 1.5 billion to 1.8 billion over a 2-year period (2008-2009).
  • Consecutive years of the highest overall comparable sales growth and profit growth 8% and 12% respectfully.
  • 40% of the company’s total operating income and 60% of the company’s total new store growth.
  • Implemented area succession plan “Next Level Development Group” comprises of the top identified internal DMs/ Support Team Members.
  • Created area and company additional development programs:

IDP Process (Individual Development Plans)
DM Development Day Process
Internal/External Mentoring Program
360 Feedback Process
Diversity/Inclusion Program
Yearly Operating Plan Process
New Store Opening Process
Next Level/Accelerated Development Team
(Company’s internal succession bench and plan)

  • Highest overall market share gain in 2009/2010
  • Promoted to Regional VP, provided decisive, proactive and market driven operational leadership within a hyper growth cycle. Successfully revitalized the 4 state Midwest region originally lagging $9 million in red. Within first year, region had 100% reversal and increased from $9 million negative to $15 million in profits, aggregating to a $24 million shift.
  • Delivered dramatic growth and measurable productivity improvements, hitting company records for sales volume, opening over 200 stores since 2005. Grew the market from 225 to 504 stores in a 2-year period. Increased corporate revenue for four-state region from $200 million to $500 million+. Instrumental in developing growth plan projecting to open 100 additional stores per year over the next 36 months.

227 West Monroe
Suite 3950
Chicago, IL 60606
P: (312) 925-4579
F: (312) 788-2772


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