Owner, Commerce Networks

Age: 23

Business: Commerce Networks

Title: Owner

Education: Bachelor's degree in business administration from Auburn University

Family: Single

Determination part of realizing dreams

Thomas Sparrow derives his work ethic from a quote he read in the foyer at Auburn University's College of Business: "There is no magic in small dreams."

Sparrow likes to think big and unconventionally.

At age 23, the young business leader has utilized the business strategies he learned as a youth to direct Commerce Networks, an Internet service company servicing businesses in eleven states.

The hosting and design company provides small businesses and million dollar corporations with Web design and hosting, virtual tours, imaging solutions, domain and search engine registration and website management.

Sparrow learned as a teenager to set goals, organize himself and maintain determination in order to succeed in business. While attending high school, he established and managed an auto sales business which has now been in operation for over nine years. He also managed the high schools basketball, baseball and track concessions. He also at that time was successful in lobbying the city school board for a concession to service Auburn High students during their school break. Sparrow also served as the financial editor and top ad salesperson for four years for his school's yearbook.

While pursuing a bachelor's degree in Finance & Business Administration, Sparrow developed his entrepreneurial skills as an on-site property manager at six apartment complexes for the George Pridmore organization and Auburn Realty.

Sparrow also organized a stadium-seating rental company at Auburn Universityís 85,000 seat Jordan-Hare stadium and also started and operated rental seat operations at NASCARís Talladega Super Speedway both of which employed over 40 personnel. Sparrow also at Auburn University managed the credit card marketing program for MBNA bank.

While managing these entities, Sparrow established Commerce Networks.

The business serves people and companies. The company's current clientele includes everything from real estate companies to Convention and visitors Bureaus.

The Auburn native credits his family and friends with teaching him the values he needed to secure business success.

Sparrow appreciates the guidance he received from the Auburn Chamber of Commerce.

Contributing to local projects interests Sparrow. He is a member of the Auburn United Methodist Church, the Auburn Chamber of commerce, the Atlanta chamber of commerce, the Opelika chamber of commerce, the Montgomery chamber of commerce, founded and supports the Tiger Trackers Motorhome club, sponsors the Dixie youth world series that is coming to Auburn and sponsored the Commerce Networks Dixie Youth Baseball team.

Another project of interest for Sparrow is the Commercial Development Authority for the city of Auburn. Sparrow serves on the Commercial Development Authority board for the city of Auburn and enjoys working with the city and its economic development staff.

Sparrow said his career path up to this point after graduation from Auburn University consisted of working in sales and general business management at Commerce Networks, the company he started after he graduated. As for future career plans, the young entrepreneur said he would just wait to see what the future has to hold.

"But I could possibly see at some point Commerce Networks merging with a larger company," he said. "But at this point, I just take things day by day."

Sparrow said his job responsibilities have allowed him to develop professionally and personally because day to day in a small business such as his, he has to be there for customers as well as for employees.

"I feel like I have had the opportunity to grow and sharpen my skills daily in dealing with everything from production and personnel issues to service after the sales issues," he said.

When asked about what he does in his free time for fun Sparrow acknowledged that he had little off time currently but that he tries to include fun into all of his work activities. When Sparrow does have off time he enjoys Motorhome travel.

Also when asked what he feels is the most critical economic development issue facing central Alabama, Sparrow said education, because education and knowledge are the foundation for a strong economy.

"And without strong support for both our K-12 and institutions of higher learning, we only cut ourselves short in the long run," he said. "All small business owners know the need for maintaining a well-educated and motivated work force, so that is why I would have to say that education is the most critical economic developmental issue in central Alabama."

Sparrow said in the Auburn area, he believes businesses can draw from topnotch talent -- students attending Auburn University.

Auburn University Montgomery
Peter A. Land Associates
CFO Strategies
Jackson Thornton Technologies
Webster Industries
Colonial Bank
Alabama State University
Montgomery Teachers Federal Credit Union
Bill Brady Services
Alabama Business Furnishings
Carmike Cinemas