BTS Behind the Scenes is a chance to showcase the people who are making things happen at BTS and give you a “behind the scenes” look into their worlds. In this month’s feature we’ll talk with SVP Tom Bohne on pit bull non-profits, culinary school, bourbon, BTS and what it feels like to be a hardcore Eagles fan.
Beyond your BTS role you lead a growing non-profit called Kennel to Couch, can you tell us about what K2C does and how it got started?
In 2018, our young pit bull, Rocky, passed away unexpectedly. Rocky made a huge impact on our family and completely changed our perception of the breed. Our family was crushed by his loss. To help handle our grief we formed Kennel to Couch in his memory. We wanted to find a way to help others experience the breed the same way we did, help change some hearts and minds, as well as help long term shelter residents get adopted.
Kennel to Couch (K2C) is a 501(c)3 dedicated to Pit Bull Adoption Advocacy. We team with shelters and community partners to sponsor pit bulls in need of adoption. Upon adoption, our sponsored dogs receive the K2C sponsorship package at no expense to the family.
In our pilot year we got all the long-term dogs at our first shelter adopted. Since then, we have expanded to 4 shelters in Maryland and California and have positioned ourselves to scale nationally. We are very excited for the future.
And you’re currently in the middle of a massive fundraiser that looks like it’s really taking off- can you tell us about it?
We are currently running a Facebook fundraiser that has 1,200 members. Participants are challenged to do 2,800 squats in February (100 per day) and there will be prizes for top fundraisers as well as K2C swag that anyone can get for certain fund-raising levels. Think Jump-Rope-for-Heart but with better prizes and for dogs.
Now back to BTS: What’s your approach to leadership and management? How have you personally changed as a leader since joining BTS?
The people that I work with are all professional adults. I do not see myself as their leader or manager, rather a facilitating collaborator. Even though most of us have previously served in the military, we are still here to forward the mission of our national defense and we all have our roles to play in making sure that the mission is successful. I am here to make sure that the people executing that mission get the life support they need so they only need to focus on their job.
I do not think my “approach” has ever changed. From the time I was an NCO in the Army to the various roles I have had in contracting I have had a simple philosophy, “If I take care of my people, they will take care of the mission and me.” I try to be very accessible to the people I work with, coach and mentor to the best of my abilities, and genuinely care about the things going on in their lives. If I have the ability to help with something, I do.
Describe your day-to-day work style in 3 words and 1 color (Yes, really).
“Everyday I’m Hustlin.” Grey.
Is it true you have a background in culinary arts? How did you change from that path to what you’re doing now?
I am a classically trained chef. I graduated Johnson & Wales as the Apprenti Cuisiner. I worked in the top Italian restaurant in Denver as well as won some International Culinary Competitions. I would say that the switch to the culinary world was the actual change in path.
The venture into culinary arts is something that actually started while I was in the Army. I started doing catering jobs as a hobby which grew into something much larger, but life events ultimately pulled me back into the defense space. I do still love cooking for others whenever I have an opportunity to host.
We’ve heard of your legendary bourbon collection. How did it start and how’s it going?
While watching one of my favorite TV shows, Justified, for the 10th time through, they kept mentioning a Bourbon called Pappy Van Winkle. I went to my local store and asked them if they carried it and was literally laughed at. I had no idea that many of the Bourbons I had heard of were allocated and almost impossible to find unless you paid about ten times the price on the secondary market. I developed a relationship with the staff at my local store, and after some research, started collecting.
I have a healthy stock of Buffalo Trace products, but the crown jewels are the Pappy bottles I have gotten my hands on. I currently have the 13-year Rye, and the 10, 12, 20, and 23 year Bourbons. Some honorable mention Ryes are the Sazerac 18, Thomas Handy, and the High West Midwinter Night Dram.
Top 3 movies of all time:
Dinner Rush, Rocky (I am from Philly), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
When you’re not making things happen for BTS or K2C, what else are you up to?
In my youth I was a bit of a maniac, so now at 43 I spend most of my free time practicing being an 80-year-old. I am a homebody, extremely focused on my family, spending time with my dogs Woobie and Lucy (my children), and sitting outback in my rocking chair with a cigar and bourbon watching my bird feeders.
I am from Philly, so I have a very unhealthy fanatical relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles, and for 42 of the last 43 years I have never been disappointed in being disappointed.
For anyone who has taken the time to read this to the end, I just want them to remember, WU-TANG is for the children!