Thomas descends from a family of hog farmers. In 1923 Thomas’s grandfather, Will Malbon, started farming wheat, corn, and soybeans but in 1970 the farm was turned into the first hog breeder farm in Virginia. Malbon Brothers Hog Farm went onto become very successful, eventually becoming known as the biggest hog farm East of the Mississippi. The farm’s feeding mill could produce 2,000 pounds of food per minute to feed the 100,000 head of hogs on its premises. Growing up only a mile from his grandfather’s farm, Thomas learned early the value of a hard- day’s work. Beginning as early as 10 years old, Thomas would spend hours at the pig farm learning the ins and outs of hog farming. By 1978 he began working on the farm full time and that meant 7am-6pm six to seven days a week. At age 17 Thomas was personally in charge of 8,000 pigs. His responsibilities included (but were definitely not limited to); fixing feeders, checking feeding tanks, ensuring all equipment is running properly, sizing up (grading) the pigs, feeding the pigs and medicating the pigs. Working on the farm full time was hard work but it certainly paid off for Thomas. In 1983, after 5 years of working full time on the farm the Malbon family decided to sell the 1000 acres because of residential areas moving close by. For two years following the sale of the hog farm, Thomas and his father continued to work farming grains. During these two years, Thomas also began cooking BBQ for friends and family at events such as family reunions and graduation parties. It was when he began getting more and more requests that he realized he could make a living out of catering BBQ. By 1985, he had procured his business license, paid for advertising and on his own, started what is still known today as “Malbons BBQ & Catering.”
Thomas’s catering company proved to be a success. Once an established business, Thomas contracted annually such events as the Neptune Festival, Harbor Fest, the Chesapeake Jubiliee, and the 18-day-long Home-A-Rama as well as the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament and Hunters Feast. The catering company wasn’t just serving the Tidewater area, but also did parties as far north as Lexington, Virginia and Washington DC and as far south as Charlottesville and Rodanthe, North Carolina. Starting from just one cooker and word-of-mouth advertising, Malbons BBQ & Catering now has smokers that can cook up to 1100 pounds of meat at once, an 8 ft x 24 ft cooker that can cook up to 36 pigs at a time and 6 work vans. Thomas employs a crew of only about 4-5 people most of which have been with the company since the very beginning. In addition to his farming and catering experience, Thomas was also part owner of Tiki Bar & Grill- a full service restaurant in Va Beach from 2001-2004. Being part owner taught him about the inner workings of a restaurant and bar. He also learned the negotiating skills it takes to work with a business partner.