Revolutionizing Genuine

Meet RPM’s Eric Thornton.

“She is such a sweetheart,” he said after he hung up the phone. “One of my favorite shippers. She has four grandchildren, and balances her career/personal life with such happiness. She’s just awesome.”

Standing at 6’8”, Eric Thornton joined the RPM team in 2014 – where he has built much of his success through his revolutionary and genuine approach to customer service.

“I’ve done my best to instill in my team the true essence of treating people with respect, while always supporting our partnerships the ‘right’ way,” Eric said. “The companies we interact with today, continue to inspire us by reciprocating that same respect and humbleness back to our team.”

Eric genuinely gets to know his customers. He knows their bright moments, and their darker days. He asks about their families and passions, and cheers for their successes.

As a Senior Sales Executive, Eric is revolutionizing genuine day in and day out. “When our customers believe in our efforts and support us daily, that provides an overwhelming sense of inspiration,” Eric said. “We hope to continue to build that inspirational foundation for years to come.”

Commonly known as Thor to his teammates, family, and friends, Eric had many career options after graduation from Saginaw Valley State University. Companies such as Coyote Logistics and CH Robinson had their eyes on him. However, his decision took a turn when his good friend, already at RPM, had a detailed conversation about the opportunity. One call from RPM’s Chief Commercial Officer, Jake McLeod, changed the direction of Eric’s career.

Eric began his career on the operations side, and within a few short months, moved over to the sales floor. “Sales became natural,” he said. “I love having the ability to collaborate with great people on a day-to-day basis and learn from those around me in the office. This role provides a platform to combine my life experiences and beliefs with my ability to listen and learn from the people around me. This has helped me develop a foundation that propelled a strategic sales approach that my team currently and continuously innovates to this day.”

He knows his customer’s personal stories, but Eric has one of his own that has grounded him in many ways.

While attending Eastern Michigan University, he lost one of his best friends in a car accident. Eric did not re-enroll at Eastern the following year. However, he began attending the local community college, worked for the township and coached track at the local high school. His story doesn’t end there.

“The kids encouraged me to try running track again,” he said. “So, I emailed Saginaw’s coach and was like ‘hey, I’m looking to see if you guys need a jumper, but more importantly continue to pursue my degree.’ [The coach] looked me up and invited me to campus for a visit. Shortly after, I ended up at Saginaw Valley State University.”

His senior year, Eric was named team captain due to the respect that he earned from his teammates and coaches.  Two weeks before his senior indoor season began, he faced another grueling challenge.

“I snapped my right foot and was diagnosed with a Lisfranc Fracture,” he said. “I was told I’d be in a cast for 7 weeks, followed by a boot with a cart to push around campus for another 6 weeks. This was a crushing blow as I was high-jumping the best that I ever had in my athletic career. The day after I received my cast I remembered what our head coach Rod Cowan would always tell us, “No excuses, no explanations”.

Eric took that very concept and lived by it. The day after he received his cast, he made his way to the training room. He worked out every day for 13 weeks. The cast and boot were removed two days prior to the GLIAC Indoor Conference Track Meet – and Eric was determined to compete. So, he started to jog.

“(My trainer) looked at me and laughed with a sense of impossibility,” Eric said. “I ended up placing 7th in the Conference out of 22 jumpers and made the All-GLIAC Conference team. The top 8 jumpers received that honor.  From that moment, I swore to myself whatever challenge would present itself in my life, I’d press forward with the attitude that Coach Cowan instilled in our team. That no matter what happens in your life, push forward and work your tail off.  Whether you reap the benefits of success or fall short, at least you placed yourself in a position to have a chance.”

He finished out his junior and senior year at Saginaw, where he not only made a name for himself as a captain, mentor, and student, but he also met his Fiancée. “Each day presents challenges with a constant variation of ups and downs,” Eric said. “My personal life lessons have been influential to my career and success. Hopefully my experiences will be able to assist and inspire someone who is struggling to find their own way as a professional.”

Eric and his fiancée are planning a spring wedding. They also just purchased a new home that Eric plans to move into in the coming weeks.