Brian P. Thomas, B.B.A.’96
Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award 2013
After visiting WMU’s campus at age 14, Brian Thomas knew right away it was the college for him. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in industrial marketing and manufacturing engineering technology from WMU, Thomas took his curiosity and vision to Buck Forkardt in Portage, Mich., and later became an account executive manager for Honda Manufacturing at Magna International.
Thomas left Michigan in 1999 to pursue a second undergraduate degree in secondary education and biology from Colorado State University and taught high school classes before joining OtterBox in 2003. At that time, OtterBox was a niche business selling waterproof boxes, fly fishing cases and travel cigar humidors. Shortly after, the company began developing interactive protection for PDAs and tablet computers for Hewlett Packard, Fijitsu, Palm, the U.S. Government and the very first Apple iPods.
After quickly realizing the potential to branch out into the consumer electronics market, Thomas was promoted to director of sales and marketing where he led the transition into the smartphone industry, creating premium protective smartphone solutions for Apple, RIM, Nokia, Samsung, HTC and others.
Thomas' leadership abilities, dedication and vision have led him to his current role as CEO. During his tenure, OtterBox has grown from a $2 million start-up to an over $1 billion company with nearly 1,000 employees worldwide.