James Thomas and Sue Loomis, two professionals whose experience spans medical devices to floral displays, have joined the staff at Enterprise Minnesota.
With 20 years of industry experience, Thomas is a business growth consultant who specializes in quality management systems (QMS).
“QMS is not just a quality system, it’s a business management system that helps you develop and grow your company moving forward,” Thomas says. “It really ties into Enterprise Minnesota’s mantra of helping businesses grow profitably.” Enterprise Minnesota uses the ISO business management system, both internally and with clients.
Thomas worked most recently as an independent business consultant. Often driving cross-country to connect with clients onsite, he helped companies of all sizes analyze market shifts, refine supply chains, and meet industry standards.
His interest in quality management has led him around the world. He’s implemented ISO systems in China to Denmark to Ireland, revitalizing all types of operations. He’s worked with Mueller Industries, Benteler Automotive, Siemens Wind Power, and most recently Nilfisk.
Since returning to the U.S., Thomas has taken on some interesting projects. A few years ago, he provided support for three successful space launches on key components of NASA, Boeing, SpaceX, and Lockheed Martin, working directly with the subcontractors and suppliers. However, he says that his biggest achievement was helping a startup achieve 3,000% growth in just two years, becoming a $450 million business nearly overnight.
Most of all, Thomas enjoys working one-on-one with clients — preferably while on the manufacturing floor. His interest and enthusiasm make Thomas uniquely suited to working with clients, according to John Connelly, Enterprise Minnesota’s vice president of consulting.
“For a number of people, the quality management system is an obligation; it’s something they have to get through,” he says. “For Thomas, it really is a key point for having a business get stronger and positioning a business to grow. His passion about that is obvious, and I think it helps clients see that he’s committed to their best interest in deploying the ISO.”
“I try to be reserved,” Thomas laughs. “But when we start getting to the information about quality management, I’m very bubbly. It’s like, ‘Hold on. If I’m speaking too quickly, let me know!’”
Loomis joined Enterprise Minnesota last December, resolving a long search for a senior accountant. Having spent 26 years with her family’s floral display business, Loomis brings fresh eyes and big-picture thinking to the tight-knit financial team.
“She asks good questions,” says Pat Vasatka, vice president of finance. “She takes the initiative on getting things done. She’s willing to step up and say, ‘Could we do it this way?’ It’s really refreshing.”
Loomis says she’s “worn a lot of hats” throughout her career. She started out as an accountant in her family’s floral display business but stepped in when needed to manage more than the finances. When something had to get done, she told Vasatka, she went out and did it, whether it was fulfilling an order or handling customer service.
Her get-it-done attitude and small business experience give Loomis a unique perspective on the challenges facing Enterprise Minnesota’s clients.
While Loomis wasn’t looking for a new role, a friend reached out to her about the opening while she was transitioning away from her position at Floral Merchandising Systems.
It was a combination of luck (and a bizarre string of mutual connections) that brought Loomis onto Enterprise Minnesota’s radar. Vasatka had mentioned her search for a senior accountant to a fellow church member; that church member passed it onto his friend, who happened to know Loomis.
More than anything, Loomis is happy to be combining two joys: supporting Minnesota businesses and accounting. So far, she says, she loves the variety of both work and people.
“My day goes by really, really fast,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll look up and it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s already the end of the day!’”
Featured story in the Summer 2022 issue of Enterprise Minnesota magazine.