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7 Questions with Tom Boucher
7 Questions with Tom Boucher

Name: Tom Boucher

Current title: CEO-Owner

Current organisation: Great NH Restaurants

Tom Boucher graduated from Merrimack College with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1987. He earned a full academic scholarship to attend Villanova University, but forwent this opportunity because he fell in love with the restaurant business. Over the next five years, he worked his way up through T-BONES, as a food server, Dining room Manager, Head Kitchen Manager, and finally to General Manager. Tom was then brought on as a founding partner of Cactus Jack’s, which opened in 1995. He held the Store’s General Manager position until 1998, when he took on additional responsibilities as the Director of Marketing and subsequently Director of Operations for T-BONES & Cactus Jack’s.
In 2004, Tom became CEO and has been providing strong leadership and entrepreneurial vision that has guided the Company’s 4 restaurant brands (T-BONES, CJ’s, Cactus Jack‘s, Copper Door) totaling 10 restaurants to its current success. Most recently he has broadened his innovative business approach by opening T-BONES Meats, Sweets & Catering, www.WeCaterGreater.com, a commissary, and a custom order delivery service, www.DingDongDeliver.com, and creating Great NH Restaurants’ own non-profit, www.FEEDNH.org. Tom’s vision is to become the premier restaurant company in New Hampshire for guests and employees alike.

7 Questions with Tom Boucher

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?

This past year has been the most challenging in my 30+ career. We have had to change, adapt, listen, evaluate, and change again. That has always been the biggest challenge in our industry but the speed at which it came at us this past year was unprecedented.

2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I graduated from Merrimack College with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1987. I earned a full academic scholarship to attend Villanova University, but forwent this opportunity because I fell in love with the restaurant business. Over the next five years, I worked my way up through T-BONES, as a food server, Dining room Manager, Head Kitchen Manager, and finally to General Manager. I was then brought on as a founding partner of Cactus Jack’s, which opened in 1995. I held the Store’s General Manager position until 1998 when I took on additional responsibilities as the Director of Marketing and subsequently Director of Operations for T-BONES & Cactus Jack’s.
In 2004, I became CEO and have been providing strong leadership and entrepreneurial vision that has guided our Company’s 4 restaurant brands (T-BONES, CJ’s, Cactus Jack‘s, Copper Door) totaling 10 restaurants to its current success. Most recently I have broadened and innovated by opening T-BONES Meats, Sweets & Catering, www.WeCaterGreater.com, a commissary, and a custom order delivery service, www.DingDongDeliver.com, and creating Great NH Restaurants’ own non-profit, www.FEEDNH.org. My vision is to become the premier restaurant company in New Hampshire for guests and employees alike.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Generally, I like to start early and dive right into my e-mail and other digital media. I try not to schedule appointments too early so I can get a jump on the day working from home. I work out 3 or 4 days a week and after lunch (which often times are working lunches) I have zoom meetings or in person meetings. I will try to sit in on one or two manager meetings per week. I am in constant communication with our Chief Operations Officer and our Chief Administrative Officer nearly every day. Usually wind down around 5PM and enjoy watching THE FIVE on Fox News and prepare dinner for my wife and I. I enjoy cooking; shocker, I know!

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Take care of your employees and they will do it back and then some to your company and your customers.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I read it nearly 25 years ago and listened to cassette tapes of the book about 15 years ago. It was a game-changer for me.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?

I've always surrounded myself with people who are experts in their leadership roles. Equally, I have tried to provide not only an opportunity for others to grow but give them room to lead and grow their own style of leadership while staying within the boundaries of our company culture.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?

On January 1, 2008, my partner Mark and I (one of the founders) bought out the other two founders and retired them. I remember that day walking out of the closing attorney's office on a brisk but sunny day. I stopped and looked up and breathed a huge sigh of relief as this was a significant step for me. I smiled knowing I had accomplished this and couldn't wait to get after it. I then had a fleeting moment where I was terrified as the buck would stop with me from here out. Fortunately, it has turned out to be a very positive move!