Tim Toupin: Builder for Life
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
WALNUT CREEK — Tim Toupin has been building for his entire life, to the point where it has become a fundamental part of his identity. Even when a serious illness threatened to take it all away, he found a way to hold on to the life and livelihood he cherished. “I got started in construction when I was 12 years old, sweeping up houses on a new track development for three dollars apiece,” he remembers. “Soon after, I started working for a journeyman carpenter who lived down the street from me. At age 18, I joined the carpenters union, during which time I worked on some very high-end homes and even built my own house. At age 29, I got my contractor’s license and started buying, remodeling, and reselling properties. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of working on an older home and making it new while maintaining its original integrity.”
In 2008, after many successful years as a builder, Tim was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a deadly form of blood cancer. Fortunately, thanks to a stem cell transplant, he survived. However, since he lost his ability to perform hands-on construction work, Tim’s professional future was left uncertain. “After I was diagnosed, I thought I’d have to close my business,” he says. “One day, my crew approached me and asked if there was any way we could keep it together. So, I put some lead men in charge and we continued. Thanks to their efforts and good work, the business is still going strong today.”
Today, as owner of Toupin Construction, Tim says his favorite part of his job is working with his team. “The quality of our crew gives us a great edge in our industry. I have the best tile setter around, as well as a great plumber, an outstanding electrician, an excellent carpenter and an incredible designer, just to name a few. They’re all really good people who perform at a high level.”
A resident of Moraga (where he lives with his wife, Pam), Tim devotes the bulk of his free time to being with family. “Pam and I have four children and six grandchildren who we love spending time with, whether we’re getting together for Sunday game night or going on vacation to Disneyland. Two of our grandchildren ride around with us to jobsites, just like our children did when they were kids.” Tim also enjoys going to the movies and spending the occasional weekend in Reno.
In regard to his life and career, Tim espouses the importance of family values. “Years ago, I went on a field trip with my daughter and realized I was the only man on the trip—all the other fathers were working. From that point on, I started paying my men to go on field trips with their kids. I just really believe in taking care of my employees and making sure they have enough time to invest in their families. In fact, I think of my crew as part of my family. My wife and I regularly attend quinceañeras and baptisms for our employees’ children, and we also do fishing trips and trips to Las Vegas with the entire crew. We just have a really wonderful family dynamic.”
Looking back on his four decades as a builder, Tim feels nothing but gratitude. “When I was diagnosed 10 years ago, the hardest part was not being able to get up every morning and go to work with my crew. Today, I may walk with a cane, but I’m still out there visiting jobsites and overseeing things. I’m just grateful that I’m still able to be involved in building, and I’ll continue to be as long as I’m able.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Old tools.
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: “Forrest Gump.”
Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Ice cream.
Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The future. I’d really love to see what science does next. I truly believe the world is gradually becoming a better place, despite the way it often appears. There’s a lot of bad out there, but there’s a lot of good, too, and it’s getting better every day.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
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A: Christmas. We have wonderful company Christmas parties for our employees, clients and vendors. We have a photo booth, a Santa Claus who gives out gifts, and crafts and activities for the kids. It’s one of my favorite events of the year.