July, 2018

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Meet ASHI's New Executive Director, James Thomas


In April, ASHI welcomed a new Executive Director. We thought you'd all like to get to know him a little better.

What are your goals as executive director?

My overall goal is to continue to serve members in all possible ways, including by providing educational opportunities that can advance their careers and by promoting legislation that’s favorable for the home inspection industry.

You’ve just gotten your feet wet, but what have you found most interesting or inspiring about your work with ASHI?

One thing that’s immediately inspired me is the sincerity of those on the ASHI Board of Directors. It’s clear how hard they work for the good of this organization and to properly serve the members. Also, home inspectors are the backbone of the small business communities in which they live, and this has been the case for many years. They sponsor local kids’ sports teams, they help out at schools and they just generally improve our communities by doing their jobs and serving their clients well. I look forward to helping home inspectors make an even greater impact on our communities. By learning about their dedication to their work, I’m helping to discover innovative ways that we can grow as a professional society and make an impact in the
communities we serve.

What attracted you to ASHI?

When my wife and I were purchasing our first home, I noticed that the home inspector was the one person who was completely looking out for my interests. The inspector was professional, an educator, a person who wanted us to purchase the home with the full understanding of its strengths and its flaws. This continues to be my experience with the home inspectors I meet—home inspectors play a key role helping people fulfill the dream of homeownership. They are a guide on what can be a difficult road—and I feel fortunate to now align myself with this great group of people.

When others learn that you work for ASHI and home inspectors, what do they say?

It’s been a pleasure to educate everyone I know about ASHI. Most people I know from “outside of the industry” are consumers of home inspections and when they hear I’m working for ASHI, they always mention how appreciative they are of the home inspectors they’ve met and worked with over the years.

To be specific, home inspectors take an anxiety-inducing situation (buying a new home) and turn it into an opportunity to teach and counsel their clients. Their practical and educational approach highlights the importance of this industry, and how ASHI can position itself as a group of professionals who help guide people through an important life decision.

What might an ASHI member be surprised to learn about you? What activities do you enjoy outside of your work?

ASHI members might be surprised to find out how obsessed I am with sports. I am a huge fan of all sports–I play, I watch, I coach. I also love to learn. You can find me reading and doing online courses in my free time. I love to read books about business and leadership, and I enjoy reading historical biographies. I even like to spend time doing tutorials on Lynda.com to learn how to use technology I’m unfamiliar with, and I like reading blog posts on LinkedIn that focus on how to inspire teams. I guess you could say I’m on a journey of improvement.

Of course, my wife and three children (all aged 8 years and younger) also keep me busy. Plus, I spend time serving my church community and I serve on the board of my children’s school. One of my assignments on that board is with the governance committee and I find that area fascinating.

Talk about the ASHI team.

I’ve been overjoyed at the welcome from the staff at ASHI HQ. Every day, the ASHI team is dedicated to members’ success and to bringing new members into the society. This team cares deeply about the home inspection community and they are passionate about helping home inspectors succeed.

Do you have a favorite quote or a personal mantra that keeps you going?

In 8th grade, I read the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” and I have never forgotten how Atticus said, “…if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” I’ve tried to live my life with that perspective—to see others’ perspectives and to be respectful of those perspectives. This quote also inspires me to make more connections with others so that I can try to gain my own new perspectives.

In addition, I try hard to not say (to myself or to others), “I’m too busy for that.” I try to say, instead, “That’s not a priority for me right now.” In other words, I hold myself responsible for the decisions I make and about how I spend my time so that I am being honest with myself. For example, if I say, “I don’t have time to exercise,” then I might actually be acknowledging that my overall health is not an important priority at that time. Making this shift in my thinking and rationalizing what I do or don’t do (or have time for) keeps me accountable for my life choices.

Thank you for this opportunity to share a little about myself. I look forward to getting to know ASHI members and for you to get to know me as well.