Clifton L. Thomas, Jr. ’72
“I always want to be that business person who is successful, but does it the right way,” said Clifton L. Thomas, Jr. ’72 — and the core values at Texas A&M have helped him to do just that. “The core values are more than words — it’s the way you live your life.”
Thomas came to Texas A&M as a football recruit under coach Gene Stallings ’57. Football taught Thomas how to treat people right, manage adversity and work extremely hard, as well as how to build a team and be accountable to those teammates. He graduated with a degree in physical education, having married his high school sweetheart, Cathy, along the way. After a few years coaching high school football, he decided to change fields, and he took a job as manager of a small Exxon distributorship in Hope, Arkansas.
In 1981, Thomas purchased his own Exxon distributorship in Victoria, Texas, creating Thomas Petroleum and C.L. Thomas Inc. Thomas and his team had great success, becoming one of Exxon’s and Chevron’s top distributors. Thomas Petroleum grew to 36 wholesale terminals in 23 states, 230 dealer accounts and 165 Speedy Stop Stores with about 3,100 employees. In 2012, Thomas sold 143 Speedy Stop Stores to 7-11. Thomas currently owns and operates 23 Speedy Stop Stores and co-owns Pilot Thomas Logistics.
Thomas has contributed to A&M’s strategic development through The Texas A&M System Board of Regents. During his 11-year tenure, both as a committee member and as chairman of the board, the A&M System saw a number of new buildings and renovations across campuses, from RELLIS to Kyle Field, as well as a move to the SEC. Thomas has served his broader community through positions on the boards of Guadalupe- Blanco River Authority, DeTar Hospital System, Wells Fargo bank, and The University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Company.
Cliff and Cathy have three daughters, Ashlie ’17, Whitney and Beth, and three granddaughters, Preslie ’25, Ashbie and Sophia.