Tom Nolan: Only in America
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SAN FRANCISCO — When Tom Nolan started working at California Shower Door Corporation as a teenager, the last thing he expected was to one day be its president and CEO. “It’s one of those ‘only in America’ stories, where the kid who starts out sweeping the floors winds up owning the company,” he says. “It began as a summer job during high school, and I continued part-time through college while I earned my master’s degree in psychology. After graduating, my intention was to become a teacher, but unfortunately there weren’t any full-time teaching jobs available. Thankfully, the company owner offered me an opportunity to run the business until I found a teaching position. Twenty-five years later, I’m still here.”
When asked his favorite part about his job, Tom gives a twofold response. “First, I enjoy interacting with our team members, who are wonderful employees and even better human beings. Second, I like being a problem-solver for our clients. From the beginning of California Shower Door’s history in 1935 to now, we’ve been innovators in every aspect of what we do, pushing the possibilities for installation and design, so that’s something I take a lot of pride in.”
A native resident of San Francisco (where he lives with his wife, Monica, and their children, Patrick and Malena), Tom express his appreciation for the diverse character of the City by the Bay. “There’s no place like San Francisco, especially in terms of sheer diversity—there’s something for just about everyone. I’m very proud to call myself a native San Franciscan.”
Outside of work, Tom spends his free time on a number of active pastimes. “My two main hobbies are playing guitar and reading,” he says. “I started playing guitar when I was a teenager, and it’s something I still enjoy today. I also love going to the beach and traveling with my family.”
In his life and career, Tom espouses the virtues of the Golden Rule. “I just try to treat others the way I would like to be treated,” he affirms. “In regard to our business, this means treating both our clients and employees with respect and consideration. It’s a pretty simple philosophy, but it’s effective.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Tom says he would do more of the things he currently enjoys, especially traveling. “At this point in my life, I don’t have the chance to travel much, other than vacations to Hawaii, so I’d take the opportunity to visit Europe and other parts of the world.”
Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music. I went through a talk radio phase, but as I’ve gotten older and hopefully a bit wiser, I’ve grown tired of all the banter.
Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Playing the guitar. I played in a band from age 14 until I was about 21.
Q: Who’s your all-time favorite guitar player?
A: Jimi Hendrix.
Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: Clarinet, because I love traditional New Orleans jazz.