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Eric Thomas ‹ TEDxLex (Tedx Lexington)


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Eric Thomas






Thirty-seven year old Lexington native, Eric Thomas, has made an impact in central Kentucky’s local business economy. He began his career at age 13 with McDonald’s and bought his first commercial lawn mower as an 11th grader at Tates Creek. A born entrepreneur, Eric quickly became a college dropout to focus solely on his lawn care business and then sold it for a profit the same year his contemporaries were just entering the workforce.

In 2005, Eric bought Automatic Rain Irrigation, a local business with $250,000 annual sales. By 2008, he more than quadrupled the business, generating $1.4 million dollars in revenue. Today, Automatic Rain Irrigation is central Kentucky’s premier residential and commercial irrigation company, serving clients such as Central Bank, Fasig-Tipton, Lane’s End Farm and Haymaker Development.

Eric’s professional success wasn’t as automatic as his irrigation systems. He boasts of his bad investment in a Christmas tree lot as an impressionable teenager and chuckles over the $200,000 he’s lost over the past 15 years, referring to it as his “tuition money”. However, he still winces when recalling his financial bankruptcy and remembers being afraid he wouldn’t be able to provide the basics for his then very pregnant wife. Today, Eric and his wife, Audra, have 3 sons; 8 year old Ethan and 6 month old twins, Gaige and Brody.

Eric’s drive, vision, willingness to take risks and uncanny ability to “fail forward”, continue to transform his business. He inspires others. In fact, he’s fueled by encouraging others to dream big and to take audacious risks so their true potential can be unleashed.

Eric became involved in Haiti’s Relief Effort, 60 days post earthquake. Along with friend, Mike Braun, they purchased 2 plane tickets, took $4000 cash and with an urgent need to help as much as they could, headed to Haiti. Today, he continues to support the same Haitian orphanage he visited on his first of now four trips to date.

He’s also incorporating his passion of “giving back” into his business model. On January 1, 2012, Automatic Rain Irrigation will continue as central Kentucky’s premier irrigation provider and will also be included with many other indoor / outdoor services provided. The name of the company will change to “Go Manje” which translates to “go feed!” Eric refers to “Go Manje” as a movement and the mission is simple and sustainable – “Feed children and build orphanages through services that give back.” Each Go Manje indoor / outdoor service call translates into meals served and orphanages built . . . “Service That Gives Back”.



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