“My proudest achievement may be to continue a 120-year-old operation,” says Thomas “Tommy” West Meehan, president and third-generation owner of C.D. West & Company Real Estate. “And my proudest accomplishments include a wonderful family, in spite of the distractions from business pursuits.”
Born in 1949 to Earl J. “King” and Elsie Meehan, Meehan has two sisters, Martha and Susan. His father was executive director of the Virginia Peninsula Economic Development Council. His mother was executive director of a volunteer center founded by Junior League of Hampton Roads.
“We didn’t get to grow old together and Uncle Caleb filled in nicely,” Meehan explains of his father’s passing when he was 29 and of his loving uncle, Caleb West Jr.
After attending Hilton Elementary School, Meehan attended St. Christopher’s School in Richmond in the 70s. As a teen, he enjoyed swimming, football, wrestling and weight lifting. Today, he lives in the Hidenwood area with his wife of 30 years, Cindy. The couple has a son, West, who lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, and a daughter, Katelyn, a Christopher Newport University graduate who works for a private school on Grand Cayman.
C.D. West & Company Real Estate was founded in 1897 by his maternal grandfather, Caleb D. West Sr.
Originally hired as the rent man in 1970, Meehan convinced his uncle to drop their time-consuming and low income producing management accounts. They then developed 1,000-plus residential lots in Virginia and South Carolina, built more than 300 single-family homes and presently retain significant landholdings.
Meehan was a real estate appraiser from 1973 to 1988, when he completed professional education courses to become a certified property manager. Subsequently, he worked in the construction of single-family homes and gradually engaged in land development. Today C.D. West manages its portfolio of office buildings, warehouses and commercial properties.
When Uncle Caleb died in 2000, Meehan took over the company’s reins. His office staff fields all calls from tenants, agents and other activities.
“Before I discovered Katina 13 years ago, I did all that,” he says of administrator, Katina Stockbridge. “She brought us into the jet age.”
Stockbridge works with her part-time assistant, Debbie Miller.
“This is the most demanding, stressful job I’ve had and I love it,” Stockbridge says. “I’ve never been stretched so much.”
Meehan’s brother-in-law, Darren Watson, is a fireman and takes care of all property maintenance issues.
Meehan’s interests include design and engineering associated with the company’s properties; the houses the company built and the land it developed; and renovations to offices. Meehan left development projects about two years before the economic downturn. Subsequently, he had a lot of free time.
“Lately, I’ve been more involved with charitable [pursuits],” he says.
Most businesses Meehan is engaged with involve strategy development, financial decisions, loans and projections.
“I had the luxury of developing relationships with significant real estate people on the Peninsula,” he says. “One of my primary mentors was my good friend, Randy Rouse.”
Meehan is a passionate volunteer. He sits on the Hampton Roads Academy board of trustees, the Boys and Girls Club of the Virginia Peninsula board and the board of An Achievable Dream.
“Tommy is one of the most genuine and generous people I’ve met,” Kathy Edwards, An Achievable Dream’s president and CEO, says. “I depend on him for advice and lots of laughter.”
As vice-chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Commission, Meehan lends his expertise in construction, engineering, design and development to help oversee its construction development committee.
“I’ve enjoyed that immensely,” Meehan explains. “We are in the midst of boring a tunnel under the Thimble Shoals Channel.”
“Tommy listens carefully and waits until he has a good feel of all variables under discussion,” says Jeff Holland, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel District. “He’s very perceptive, evaluating all information, calculating it then putting it all together. I call him E.F. Hutton—when he speaks, everyone listens.”
Meehan’s interests include boats, cars, motorcycles, hunting waterfowl, studying history and operating construction equipment. He earned his private pilot (helicopter) license in 2011. He also enjoys collecting antiques with his close friend, Ward Scull.
“He’s the most astute, easy-going guy you’ll ever meet,” Ward says.
The two attended many auctions at Christie’s in New York, where they bought items at what Meehan calls their garage sales. Around 2005, they purchased 35 boxes of books for “a couple hundred dollars.” In one of the books, they found a letter from George Washington to the Culper Ring, his espionage ring based in Long Island. Dated about a year before the surrender at Yorktown, the communication contained encouragement from Washington for one of the younger of the two primary members in the group who was getting discouraged.
“I’ll just say, the letter’s sale was probably enough to offset some of our bad purchases,” Meehan says.
Meehan considers patience to be the key to his success.
“I feel like one has to pay his dues over time and wait his turn,” he says. “My reward is being able to do what I love doing.”
TO THE POINT
Thomas West Meehan
C.D. West & Co. Real Estate
Address: 753-C Thimble Shoals Blvd., Newport News, VA 23606