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Todd Thoman

A Snapshot in Time

By Barry Engelhardt

“Stay true to yourself, respect people, and good things will come your way.”

Todd Thoman has spent a lifetime building strong relationships. From meeting his wife while working event photography for his father’s business to establishing connections with vendors who later hired him, Todd understands the value of proactively building a reputation filled with trust, respect, and follow-through.

When reflecting on how to be successful, Todd leans into the key ingredients of a positive relationship. He shares, “Always be truthful. That’ll get you far in life. Stay true to yourself, respect people, and good things will come your way because of that. Just try to help people out.”

Todd graduated from Vandalia High School in 1976. Growing up, he spent countless hours behind a camera, supporting his father, Bob Thoman’s thriving photography business. Bob ran Thoman Photography for forty years and was in such high demand that Todd soon covered live events, such as weddings and high school dances. He smiles and admits that it was at one such event, a Vandalia prom, where he met his wife.

After high school, Todd attended Kaskaskia Community College and Eastern Illinois University, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he worked as a legislative aide for Illinois State Senator Frank Watson while earning his master’s degree in public administration.

With his experience working for a small, family-owned business, his master’s in public administration, and his knowledge gained as a political aide, Todd was a natural fit for a newly created position in Vandalia. He became the town’s first Economic Development Director, a role he held until accepting a similar position in Pekin.

Eventually, Todd transitioned to the public utilities sector as an economic development specialist for CIPs (later purchased by Ameren). During his tenure with Ameren, Todd lived in Mattoon, Springfield, and St. Louis. He also worked on multiple projects with the founder of Agracel, a company specializing in transforming farmland into industrial developments in rural America.

Impressed by Todd’s work ethic and ability to build strong relationships, Agracel eventually offered him a position as its Director of Business Development. This role was critical in the company’s expansion from one to four offices capable of managing 125 commercial buildings throughout the United States.

As Todd and his wife Holly approach retirement, they decided it was time to return home, moving back to Vandalia in 2022. “We both thought about it; we grew up on the lake when we were there. My parents had a lake lot on the north side,” says Todd. “I was assistant manager of the Vandalia Lake Marina for six years, so we had a connection there. We thought maybe we might find a summer house or something. And then, as we looked down at the lake, we found the lot we liked. I think it was probably about the last lot available. So, we purchased the lot and decided, well, let’s just make the move.”

While Todd has returned home and is slowly transitioning towards retirement, he admits he will remain busy. Just as when he returned home after college, and the city valued his knowledge and abilities to help establish an economic development program, his return brings life back full circle. Todd shares that several individuals have reached out to him, hoping he could provide his knowledge and build support for community projects, such as an industrial park and a new vocational qualification center.

Todd is excited by the concept of helping the town that raised him as a way to give back. “So, through my connections in the state, I try to facilitate that,” says Todd.

In essence, Todd Thoman’s journey is a testament to the power of building strong relationships and the impact of giving back to one’s community. Vandalia, with its rich history and tight-knit community, played a significant role in shaping Todd’s path, and now, as he returns to his roots, he looks forward to contributing to its future growth and development.

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