July 17, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. - Teamwork and timing. Former Wolfpack safety Terrence Holt worked his way into the NC State record books relying on both of those qualities. Now more than a decade later, he’s still relying on teamwork and timing - this time to gain success in the business world.
Holt made his mark at NC State as a member of a tenacious defense that helped the Wolfpack set a school record for victories in 2002 - his senior campaign. He won All-America honors that year and was a two-time All-ACC performer at free safety, posting more career tackles (315) than any defensive back in school history at that point.
But his most impressive record was one that required the precise synchronization of all 11 players on the field. His prowess was one of the elusive accomplishments in the game of football: blocking kicks. His timing was perfect enough to block a dozen kicks and set a new school and ACC record.
Following his graduation with a degree in sociology, Holt was taken in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. He spent four years in Detroit before stints with the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints. He hung up his cleats in 2008 and decided it was time to put his degree to work.
The first item of business for Holt and his older brother, former Wolfpack consensus All-American and recent inductee into the NC State Athletic Hall of Fame Torry Holt, was to get the Holt Brothers Foundation up and running. The brothers lost their mother, Ojetta, while Terrence was in high school and made a vow then to one day doing something to help kids who have a parent battling cancer.
Holt’s field of play these days is Holt Brothers, Inc., a conglomerate that includes Holt Brothers Construction, Holt Brothers Development, Holt Brothers Football and the Foundation, which is an affiliate company. He serves as president of the group, working with his brother.
“My job is to lead and guide and carry out our mission,” said Holt. “My brother and I have been on teams all our lives and I know I have to rely on teamwork to be successful in any area of our business. I rely on my team and think I know how to pick a team. Picking the best people and putting them in the best positions for them to be successful will in turn make us all successful.”
Most of Holt’s time is spent with the construction arm of the business, which provides project management, oversight, and preconstruction services for construction projects. “We choreograph everything that needs to happen throughout the life of a project,” Holt continues. “You have to be able to manuever and navigate. Something might not go according to the schedule and we have to navigate that. It’s all about timing.”
“Experience is the greatest teacher,” he continues. “That’s how it was in sports at NC State and for the Lions. I might learn things in a meeting or see things from the sidelines, but nothing taught me quicker than being out on the field. I took everything that I learned from being a captain at NC State or leading a secondary in the pros and am using it every day.”
Holt Brothers has recently landed three big contracts with partner companies in the Raleigh area, including the $73 million Raleigh Union Station project, the $65 million City of Raleigh Critical Public Safety Center and the renovation of Reynolds Coliseum.
Holt says that he can’t think of an industry that compares as much to an athletic team as construction management. “It’s all about teamwork and timing, from the initial stages to construction closeout. Precision, focus and discipline - those things helped make my brother and I OK football players,” says the master of understatement, “and holding true to that is helping us to become a very reputable firm that is on the rise. We have our eyes set on being a top five firm in the Triangle and a top 10 firm in the southeast.”
They don’t award all-conference or All-American honors for business leaders, but Holt has already earned the equivalent. In April, he was named one of the Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Leadership Award winners for 2014. The 40 Under 40 awards recognize outstanding professionals under the age of 40 for their contributions to their organizations and to the community.
“It was tremendous,” says Holt. “I am so honored to be a part of that class because there are a lot of talented leaders and employees in that group. To be recognized that way after just three years in this role was overwhelming. It has not been an individual effort by any stretch of the imagination. I rely a great deal on my team because I know that’s what great leaders do.”
Holt says that he doesn’t underestimate the role that his football career plays in his current success in business. “We know that it opens up some doors. Some of our business relationships came from having gone to NC State and playing in the NFL. We don’t take it for granted.”
Success in the business arena does not translate to much free time, as Holt estimates that he works 12-hour days, six days a week. But the hours that he spends making the various entities of Holt Brothers, Inc., successful are hours dedicated to the memory of his mother, as well as the future of his children: three-year-old Emerie and four-month old Terrence, Jr., or T.J.
“Our philanthropy efforts have sowed a lot of seeds and kept our roots grounded. We love that people are aware of what we’ve done in the åcommunity and are now being educated about what we do in business. Having that precede us when we walk into a room opens up doors because people know we’re already committed to community. That came first and will always come first. We plan to build a thriving, growing company that we can pass on to our kids’ kids while also keeping our mom’s legacy alive and helping kids affected by cancer."