Josh Thompson had just $800 in his pocket when he followed his girlfriend (now wife) to New Jersey more than a decade ago and launched a window-washing business. But, while Thompson might have been short on dollars, he already had years of experience washing windows—and watching a family-owned construction business take off.
Today, Thompson is founder and CEO of Thompson Touch, a New York-based full-service construction company that specializes in high-rise construction work for commercial and residential properties. The business is a family affair; his wife, two younger sisters and cousin all work for the company.
For Thompson, much of the inspiration behind Thompson Touch stems from his childhood in Maryland. There, families running their own businesses were leaders in the neighborhood. And, as a teen, Thompson started working for a family-run window-washing business, owned by his father’s friend. Building something for his family—a lasting legacy for the next generation, which now includes his three young daughters—is what drives Thompson.
“It’s really the core motivating factor as to why I want to get up and grow this business,” he said. “I want to basically create generational wealth for my family, for my daughters. And I want the pride. I remember growing up, there were always the families in the neighborhood that owned stuff and had stuff. Those families were somebody. Those were accomplished people, influential people in the neighborhood. I want that for my daughters.”
Hustling from the beginning
Thompson launched his business by hustling—and has never really stopped. As a 20-something, he grudgingly swapped his BMW for his dad’s truck and started advertising his residential window-washing services on websites like Angie’s List. Every call was a new opportunity—and he jumped on them, often showing up for a job in less than 30 minutes. “I beat out a lot of my competition that way,” he said.
From the beginning, Thompson has leaned on family (of sorts), roping in just about every one of his wife’s cousins’ boyfriends to work as his assistant. After two years, in 2012, he was ready to scale up and away from working in his truck and washing windows himself. “I decided to be a businessman vs. a technical expert,” he said.
Thompson discovered a love for marketing and sales, began hiring crews and stopped going out into the field so he could focus on growing his business. Over a few years, he moved from washing windows of mansions in New Jersey to high-rise building construction in New York City.
With his residential business, Thompson started upselling—adding power washing and roof cleaning to his services. As he grew his high-rise business, he did the same. Thompson Touch now works on the full exterior shell of luxury high-rises and commercial buildings across New York City—replacing windows, inspecting safety systems and taking care of punch list repairs. He also has his sights set on general contracting. Thompson hopes to be building skyscrapers someday.
“Right now, we’re staying in our lane and constantly keeping our eyes open on building that right team,” Thompson said. “We’re headed in that direction.”
While family has always been involved at some level in Thompson Touch, relatives started joining the organization in more serious roles several years ago. His wife, Krystal, who continues to work a full-time job, started helping with administrative tasks two years ago.
His two younger sisters recently joined. Emma runs the company’s social media. Thompson didn’t have a role in mind for his other sister, Julianna, when she started, but she turned out to be a natural at sales and business development.
And his cousin, Gil, who has worked with him in New York for the past six years, is launching the South Florida division this year. “I love this guy. I talk to him every day,” Thompson said. “He’s committed six years of his life to me. The least I can do is back him up and support him.”
“We’re going to make waves,” he said of the businesses’ expansion. “That’s what I do best.”
Trust and loyalty
For Thompson, the benefits of working with family come down to trust, loyalty and comfort. “I feel very much like myself around my key members of my team, which probably half of them are my core family members,” he said. But that feeling of comfort and affability extends to the rest of his workforce as well, and his clients recognize the difference.
“When people hire us, they say, ‘Wow, these guys operate differently. These guys are laughing with each other. These guys are enjoying each other’s company,’” Thompson said. “You can tell that these guys work together well. Are we going around with family-owned business [written] on the side of trucks? No. But I feel like it’s so ingrained in our company culture that I feel like it gets noticed.”
As Thompson looks to the future, he knows how he’ll lead the business there—with empathy, a focus on learning and achieving together, and some fun, too. He loves what he does—and the potential of what he’s building.
“I feel like my day to day is like I’m in high school, trying to score beer for the party Friday night,” he said. “You have a goal in mind … and we come through.”