LGBTQ contractor defies stereotypes to blaze a trail to success

Tommy Whitehead decided to do something a little different for his birthday.

Whitehead, founder and CEO of Tampa contracting firm TomCo Solutions, celebrated his 40th on June 1st by welcoming business professionals and Tampa Bay’s leading philanthropists to his networking and book signing event.

Whitehead’s Building Success Summit featured panelists who’d achieved success in different industries telling stories and teaching lessons about business and entrepreneurship. The packed event included a silent auction, a vendor fair, food trucks, an open bar and even a dockside party showcasing multi-million dollar yachts. There was even a shadowcast of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” 

Whitehead didn’t want any run-of-the-mill party to celebrate his birthday and the release of his new book, “Building Success: A ToolBox For Coming Out On Top.” He wanted something more meaningful for himself and his guests

“I thought, ‘We could do this better,’” Whitehead says. “How do we make this impactful for the people who come, not just me?”

Defying stereotypes, blazing a trail

As the unique birthday party shows, Whitehead is no stranger to being a trailblazer. As an LGBTQ+ member of the construction industry, he has spent a good portion of his life defying stereotypes and overcoming the pressure to conform.

“I saw the type of discrimination that would happen in the construction industry,” Whitehead says. “I saw the stereotypes that were constantly floating around. I saw that it was uncomfortable being an LGBTQ member of the construction industry and I was in the closet kinda hiding it.”

Whitehead saw a need to make an industry struggling with labor shortages more inclusive and educate those in the profession. 

TomCo SolutionsTommy Whitehead“Once you stop letting others dictate how you feel, once you take that ability away from somebody…it’s very empowering,” he says. “You’re back in control and back in the seat. I decided that I’m gonna be my authentic self and talk about my family. I want others to be able to be themselves and talk about their families too.” 

In 2023, Whitehead launched the Pride Construction Coalition (PCC) to support the LGBTQ+ community in the construction industry. The PCC is a community of construction industry professionals and their supporters who are determined to make the construction space a more inclusive place for the LGBTQ+ community. They promote economic growth, foster networking and advocacy and support charities through social activities, fundraising and volunteer work.

“I thought, ‘This is a space that needs to be educated a little bit,’” says Whitehead. “We want to get rid of the stigma that it’s dirty work. We can't have this image anymore because we need to motivate more professionals to enter the field.” 

Once a closeted construction worker hiding his authentic self, Whitehead has gone on to found TomCo. Solutions, a successful home remodeling firm. Whitehead altruistically uses this success to benefit causes that he is passionate about. 

He has contributed to and funded shoe drives, charities supporting refugees and orphans, hurricane recovery efforts, Toys for Tots, even a sea turtle rehabilitation tank at the Florida Aquarium. The list goes on. 

“I’m a sucker for a good cause,” says Whitehead. 

A story to tell

His philanthropic pursuits did not come without effort. Throughout his life, Whitehead has undergone a remarkable journey and overcome many obstacles to become who he is today. Whitehead opens up about that journey and those obstacles in his book. 

“I’m not afraid of telling my own failures to other people to give them motivation,” he says. ”I’m a storyteller. I had all of these stories and I felt like I needed to get them out.”

The book’s humorous chapter titles follow the chapters of Whitehead’s life. There are  “My backpack told me I was poor” and “I only had to panic for two hours”. He describes the less-than-glamorous account of growing up poor, his experiences becoming a successful entrepreneur, and everything in between. Whitehead wants the chronicles of his life to give readers motivation and tools to build their own success. 

“I wanted people to not feel embarrassed about their failures and the things that they've gone through,” he says.

His book landed on Amazon’s bestseller list while it was still in presales. 

From closeted construction worker to LGBTQ advocate, CEO of a successful business, emerging author and impactful philanthropist, Whitehead’s life is a beautiful testament to the importance of authenticity.  

“There’s this Instagram mentality where everything is perfect for certain people,” he says. “But what social media doesn’t show you is all the things you’ve had to do to get there. All the steps, all the failures, all the help and support you needed to get there. The book was really a story of sharing, ‘Hey  I might have those pretty Instagram pictures today, but it took a LOT of things to bring me where I am today. And it wasn’t pretty.”

Now in his 40’s, Whitehead is serious about having an impact in the community. Within ten years, he plans on launching a private capital company to deploy money to construction projects, a 55+ LGBTQ housing complex in the Tampa Bay area, and a charter school for the trades. His book and spectacular networking events are certainly not the last you’ll hear of Tommy Whitehead. 

For more information, go to Pride Construction Coalition and Tommy Whitehead.
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Read more articles by Tashie Tierney.

Tashie Tierney has always been an avid storyteller with a dedication of sharing the inspiring humans within this world. Tashie's innate curiosity and affinity of talking to strangers might have stressed out her parents during her childhood, but it ultimately led her down the path of journalism. She graduated the University of South Florida in 2023 with a degree in International Relations and the hopes that it would take her all across the world. When she's not busy writing the latest story, she's probably either traveling, painting, making music, creating videos, or playing with her bunny. Learn more about Tashie at her travel blog or follow her on Instagram @tashies.travels