This week, we’re spotlighting 2009 Scholar Tim Smith. Tim is the founder and CEO of Patriot Commercial Cleaning and Patriot Industries Roofing. Since starting the company in 2011, Tim has stitched military representation into his company’s fabric, employing more than 55 veterans and 22 members of military families across 75 locations nationwide.
Tim knew serving his country was what he wanted most, enlisting in the Army in 2003 at the age of 24. After completing basic training, he deployed to Iraq in 2004, where he served as a food service specialist before his promotion to sergeant in 2005. Tim’s 4-27 Field Artillery team monitored safety protocols and oversaw Army-designated areas. Shortly after arriving in Mummidyah, Iraq, Tim endured one of his most difficult experiences on April 29, 2004, when he lost eight members of his unit to a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
“I was shocked at first and very numb,” Tim said, “I remember going to the memorial service and looking at the boots, weapons, and Kevlar of our buddies that gave everything and it almost seemed surreal listening to the song, ‘American Soldier,’ at the end.”
Tim’s strong bond with the members of his unit is something he still holds dear to this day, and he wanted to honor them by giving back.
“I felt it was my duty to give back to society in some positive way so that we remember the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Tim said.“The feeling of honoring those we had lost added to my motivation.”
After his honorable discharge in 2007, Tim chose to pursue his master’s degree in social work at Washington University in St. Louis in 2008. One year into his program, he discovered the Pat Tillman Foundation through one of his mentors, Dr. Monica Matthieu. Tim became part of the first class of Tillman Scholars in 2009, earning his MSW in 2010 with a concentration in mental health and a specialization in administration.
“It was exciting to be a part of the first class of Tillman Scholars,” Tim said. “Scholars all went on a trip to Washington D.C. that year and we stayed in dorms at University of Maryland. I especially enjoyed being able to meet the fellow members of our class and learning their stories.”
Excited to start his own family-run business, Tim launched Patriot Commercial Cleaning in 2011, and he and his team have since finalized more than 200 contracts nationwide while continuing to grow their number of employees, expanding their staff by 10 employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of breathing in debris from a burn pit at FOB St. Michael, Tim underwent chemotherapy for lung cancer in 2016. He also began writing his first book, Patriot’s American Dream. He plans to donate the profits to five charities, which include PTF, The Mission Continues, the Chris Draft Foundation, the St. Louis Hero Network and the Folds of Honor.
“I want to continue to give back,” Tim said, “These causes are a big reason why I am where I am.”
Tim’s cancer recurred again in 2020. He credits his faith, family and medicine for helping him throughout his recovery.
“I was able to beat it again and have been in remission since July 2020,” Tim said, “Luckily with the support of my wife Terri and our two sons, Timmy and Tyler, I was able to focus on growing the business and keep positive thoughts on my mind to keep pushing forward. In the military, we were trained to never give and to keep driving on.”