Business owner banks on himself in new venture

Albemarle resident Brad Thompson has always had a deep faith, which he has leaned on many times in his life. It has helped him to make hard decisions, such as when he left a relatively stable job in the world of finance late last year to focus on his pallet service business.

Several people were puzzled when he left a good-paying job in uptown Charlotte last year, but he wanted to work for himself and provide a necessary service for the people in his community — so he expanded the scope and reach of Thompson’s Pallet Service & Removal to help him accomplish those goals.

Thompson is comfortable with his decision because no matter what happens in the future, he has a firm belief that as long as he prioritizes his faith and puts his relationship with God at the forefront, he will be okay.

“My business could get thrown in the fire tomorrow, but we’re still going to be standing because we got God first,” he said. “If I take my eyes off of the Lord, I’ll drown, and this business will not stand.”

Brad Thompson is working to meet the pallet service needs of business in Stanly County.

Starting At Wells Fargo

After graduating from Albemarle High School in 2016, where he was involved with West Stanly’s ROTC program, Thompson enrolled in the U.S. Army. As he was transitioning from the South Carolina Air National Guard to its North Carolina counterpart, he found out about a unique program within Wells Fargo — called Boots to Banking — that was looking to hire military talent for various career opportunities. It piqued his interest.

“I knew finance would be a good steady income for me,” he said. “I knew there would be opportunities to move up within the organization.”

Upon getting accepted into the program and completing eight weeks of training, Thompson began his banking career in uptown Charlotte at Wells Fargo’s financial crimes division, where he worked as a fraud investigator in 2019.

Thompson spent about a year as a fraud investigator before being promoted to a business banker. Shortly after his promotion, the Covid-19 pandemic arrived and changed everything.

As a member of the N.C. Air National Guard, which was activated by Gov. Roy Cooper to help with the state’s emergency operations, he was deployed to Hoke County for about two months in early 2021 to help bolster the county’s health department.

After returning to Wells Fargo, Thompson left the company, mainly because he felt he was not being adequately compensated for his new position. It also disappointed Thompson that he could not work remotely and had to work on Sundays, which deprived him of going to church.

“The reason I resigned was that I was stuck,” he said, noting he had several conversations with his pastor at Prospect Baptist Church in Albemarle about what he should do. “It just was not working out.”

Transitioning To Bank of America

Taking some time to regather himself, Thompson, who still planned to find another job in banking, was looking for some part-time work when he created his own business centered on pallets. Thompson and his spouse, Miriam Galvan, were the only employees.

He did not have any prior experience dealing with pallets, “but I saw a lot of people making good money at it,” he said. And there was an opportunity, as there was no pallet service business based in Albemarle.

Thompson’s Pallets revolved around removing unused pallets, inspecting them and verifying that they were not damaged before selling them to other businesses.

Still wanting a career in banking, Thompson went to work for Bank of America after seeing an open position online for an estate servicing operations specialist.

Last June he started his new job, which offered better pay (he had a base salary of around $55,000) and more flexible hours. Thompson traveled each day to uptown and assisted family members in making key decisions after their loved ones died.

He enjoyed working at Bank of America, noting the work/life balance was much improved. But he had to spend $25 a day for parking, which quickly added up.

“I thought that was a little ridiculous,” he said.

During his time off on the weekends, Thompson continued to grow his business, even gaining his first full-time customer, when Concord-based Taylor Pump and Lift asked the company to manufacture custom-made pallets.

“They gave me an opportunity,” he said. “They were the first big client that I ever had.”

Focusing On Pallets 

With the success of his company, Thompson left his job at Bank of America last fall to focus fully on expanding his operations and services into Stanly. Many local businesses in need of pallets often have to go to Troy or Charlotte to get the resources, he said.

“We’re trying to get a more target audience of people that we can go to and offer a service to them at a reasonable cost,” he said. “I just want to earn their business and let them know that there is a business that cares and that wants to take care of people. We want to help meet the pallet needs for local businesses.”

He has enjoyed working for himself and feeling a sense of purpose.

“It’s so easy when you work for a big corporation to be counted as another numbers,” he said. “Here at Thompson’s Pallets, we don’t value people as just another number. We value their business and I value relationships.”

Thompson said he recently contacted a local trailer company in Albemarle and plans to continue spreading the word to businesses in the area.

Since first opening more than a year ago, Thompson has hired two additional employees from Ellenboro, in Rutherford County, who build the pallets to meet each customer’s specifications.

Thompson estimates his company pushes out 60 to 80 custom-made pallets each month. Each custom-size pallet sells for $70, while it costs the company only about $24 to build. Thompson delivers the pallets himself, with no added charges for shipping.

New pallets are “manufactured with the finest of mixed hardwoods and softwoods such as oak, poplar and pine,” according to its website. Sizes can range from as small as 48 x 40 inches to as large as 50×105 inches.

Confident About The Future

A few months removed from his stint at Bank of America, Thompson is still confident he made the right move.

“Obviously, you walk by faith and not by sight,” he said. “I don’t know what tomorrow or next week will hold. But what I do know is that my Bible teaches me to not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough worries of its own.”

God has continued to provide for Thompson, he said. Even during tense times, when he was not sure the business would survive, timely sales came through or a company contacted Thompson about pallets to pick up.

As someone who has always enjoyed helping others, Thompson said the best part about his business is “being there for people and saving businesses money.” And he enjoys the face-to-face interactions with his customers.

“People are more likely to do business with you when they know that you’re not out there only for yourself,” he said. “If they can see you, they can build that personal relationship.”

Whenever doubt creeps in about whether he made the right decision to leave the banking world, Thompson remembers the many trials of inventor Thomas Edison.

“People used to think he was a fool. He tried multiple times and yet he couldn’t get that light bulb going,” he said. “But if he would have ever quit, we would have been sitting in the dark having this interview.”

If interested in reaching out to Thompson, people can call him at 704-991-6693 or email thompsonspalletservices@gmail.com.