Jeff Thoma is in the process of filling some pretty big shoes.

The former senior engineer at Apple recently returned home to the shop that his grandfather, dad and uncle have built into an institution.

Since his 2016 return, Thoma has spent more time as the mentee than the mentor, as he learns not just about the family business but also what it’s like to be a first-time dad.

Thoma recently found a moment to talk with us about a possible name change (we liked iThoma Electric), what it’s like to follow in huge footsteps, and what the future might hold for Thoma Electric.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An inventor!

What personal quality do you like most?

What do you most admire in other people?
Mindfulness, introspection and critical thinking.

Which historical figure would you like to take to coffee?
Either Leonardo Da Vinci or Thomas Jefferson, two of the greatest inventors ever!

We hear that you can’t discuss specific Apple projects you were involved in but is there any chance you could give us a hint (we are also open to riddles, cyphers and smoke signals if that helps)?
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Apple, and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with some very bright people on some incredible technical challenges.

In 15 words or less lay out your plan to turn Thoma Electric into iThoma Electric? (MacinThoma Electric, Thomapple Electric, ThoMac Electric)
I don’t look good in black turtle-necks, but there’s no substitute for hard work.

How’s fatherhood? Do you find yourself having a better understanding of your dad?
Being a father is easily one of the best gifts I have ever received. My daughter is truly a miracle in many ways, we are so grateful for our family’s health and happiness. But now I know why my dad always fell asleep during family movie night. Children are exhausting!

So, you were able to leave and come back, did your time away change what how you feel about San Luis?
Absolutely. SLO has always been the place that embodied the concept of home for me, and on one hand being away meant gaining perspective, so I think I fell more in love with SLO for its unique personality. But on the other-hand, being away also means that I am now able to bring some of that perspective and experience back with me, to help shape my new home, so I’m very excited for the future!

You’re following your pops (Bill Thoma) and uncle’s (Ed Thoma) footsteps, how’s that going?
Talk about big shoes to fill!  As it pertains to being a respected person, I could only hope to be half as successful as my father, my uncle, and for that matter, my grandfather. And as for a multi-generational business, I think we all have something to learn from each other. It has been an absolute blast to transition into a welcoming environment where I have felt as much a student as a mentor.

Thoma Electric is a local institution, where do you see it in 15 years?
My hope for Thoma Electric is that we continue our strong commitment to deliver a high value product through quality craftsmanship and thoughtful design. Thoma Electric as a business is a member of the community just like the employees who live, go to school, and work here in SLO County, and in 15 years I sincerely hope that we are thought of as a good community member as well as a valued business partner. I’m also very excited to have the opportunity to bring new perspectives on technical challenges and fresh ideas to the electrical industry on the Central Coast and beyond. Forging new paths is hard work, but I’m up for a challenge.