Fresh, Fast & Healthy.

Leadership



ThunderCloud Subs Leadership

 Andy Cotton, Co-founder

Andy Cotton’s sole restaurant experience was as a cook at Les Amis Café, a legendary Austin hangout once located on 24th and San Antonio. He began ThunderCloud Subs with his partner John Meddaugh in 1975 with a $5,000 loan (collateralized by a 1966 Volkswagen and an old yellow Pontiac) from Capital National Bank. Their original location is still operating at 1608 Lavaca.

Outside of ThunderCloud, Andy wrote an award-winning sports column in the Austin Chronicle called The Coaches Corner for 10 years. He’s written two books: It’s Not Fun, Life Below the Radar of the PGA Tour, and a children’s book, A Puppy’s Tale. He still does occasional freelance writing.




Years with the company:

All of them—40 years since we started the company in 1975.

 Where are you from?

I grew up in Chicago and Miami.

 Where did you go to school and what did you major in?

I majored in history with a double major in teaching at the University of Missouri, graduated in 1971, and after a stint washing dishes and hauling sheetrock in Aspen, I moved to Austin in 1973 and never left.

Describe your role at ThunderCloud, past and present.

I am still 100 percent active in the day-to-day life at ThunderCloud, with no plans to go anywhere.

 What are you most proud of when it comes to ThunderCloud? 
  1. We introduced the concept of the submarine sandwich to Austin.
  2. The huge impact of that introduction, now to a second and third generation of our original customers and employees.
  3. The ThunderCloud logo is recognized all over the country and even the world. That’s pretty cool.
 Do you have a favorite memory from ThunderCloud’s early days? 

Almost slicing my finger off halfway through the first lunch of opening day. It was just me and John and blood. Looked like a slaughterhouse.

 Of all of the things ThunderCloud does to build community, what is most meaningful to you personally? 

The Turkey Trot. Its impact is almost beyond my comprehension.

What do you most love about Austin?

I’ve lived in Austin way longer than any place else combined. Raised two kids here, and multiple generations of dogs. It’s just home and no matter what cool places I travel to I’m always happy to be back.  Also: great friends, and the leash-free Zilker Park.

What are your favorite leisure time activities? 

Tennis, golf, dog walking.

Please describe your family.

I have two kids, Adam and Janie. Adam is a professional musician in Los Angles and Janie is an executive with Western Union, but when they visit, the first place they want to go on the way in from the airport is ThunderCloud. The Cloud was their first job. Since the day they stopped eating Gerber’s, it was their first food. Kelly and I still have kids but they have four legs and equal three dogs.

How many times per week do you eat at ThunderCloud? 

Four to five times a week.

Do you have other favorite local businesses in Austin?

Many—I shop and eat locally whenever I can.

What’s your favorite ThunderCloud Sub?

Tuna with extra mayo.

 John Meddaugh, Co-founder

John Meddaugh lived above his family’s general store growing up in upstate New York. He spent his younger days playing golf with his brother and running the store after school. His business and entrepreneurial background came in handy when he met Andy Cotton in 1975.  Both John and Andy worked for Tauck Tours, a high-end tour company. They were in San Francisco on a training tour of the Pacific Northwest. John loved Walt’s Subs in Albany, New York, an independent sub shop near his hometown. (Sometimes he would have a Walt’s Sub three times a day, including for breakfast.) During their three days of training, they talked about what to do with the rest of their lives. John wanted to start an airline; Andy thought a sub shop might be better. They went with the sub shop. John and his soon-to-be-wife Valerie drove to Austin, sight unseen, with all of their possessions on their honeymoon. ThunderCloud was born.




Years with the company:

I co-founded ThunderCloud Subs with Andy Cotton in 1975, so 40 years.

Where were you born?

Troy, New York.

Where did you go to school? 

Attended Cairo-Durham Central School District in Greene County, New York, from kindergarten through 12th grade, then State University of New York at Albany, where I majored in marketing with a minor in History.

Describe your role at ThunderCloud, past and present.

Big thinker with lots of experience as a sub-maker, dishwasher, sweeper, and leader.

What three things are you most proud of when it comes to ThunderCloud? 
  1. Fresh subs.
  2. Loyal people to work with.
  3. Loyal customers to serve.
Do you have a favorite memory from ThunderCloud’s early days?

Wearing homemade sandwich boards on opening day in front of state offices (near ThunderCloud’s first store at 1608 Lavaca).

Of all of the things ThunderCloud does to build community, what is most meaningful to you personally? 

The ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot, and all of the in-kind contributions that we make to local schools and nonprofits.

What do you most love about Austin?

Mexican food, University of Texas sports, young-thinking people.

What are your favorite leisure time activities?

Golf, travel, woodworking, my vacation home in the Catskills in upstate New York.

Please describe your family

Valerie and I were married in 1974, shortly before we started ThunderCloud Subs. Valerie is a partner at Ernst & Young. Our beagles, Chuckles and Stormy, are family and also travel companions.

Is your family involved with the company, and if so, how? 

Valerie has been heavily involved in ThunderCloud from its beginnings, when she had to teach Andy and John how to do basic old school bookkeeping. She now oversees our tax returns, and is known for her opinions! Many of my in-laws, nieces, and nephews have worked at ThunderCloud shops during the summers.

How many times per week do you eat at ThunderCloud? 

Four.

Do you have other favorite local businesses in Austin?

Matt’s El Rancho, and Breed & Company.

What’s your favorite ThunderCloud Sub?

Tuna on white, add avocado.

 Mike Haggerty, Co-owner

Mike Haggerty was a ThunderCloud customer in 1977 when he met Andy Cotton and John Meddaugh, the founders of ThunderCloud Subs, at the original ThunderCloud Subs on Lavaca St. near campus. Andy and John had been talking about franchising ThunderCloud, and brought Mike on as their first franchisee (the company stopped franchising in 1999).




Years with the company:

36.  I signed up as the first franchisee for ThunderCloud in 1980. My first store was the Lake Austin Blvd. location, which opened in Fall, 1981.

Where were you born?

Dallas, Texas

Where did you go to school and what did you major in? 

I was on the eight-year plan. I started at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and went there for two years, then to a community college in Illinois while working in the Chicago area, then finished at UT with a business degree.

Describe your role at ThunderCloud, past and present.

Spreading the ThunderCloud brand and culture outside of the central Austin area and developing systems that ensure we maintain our quality, personality, and service. Our office owns and operates 15 locations: 12 in the Austin area, two in San Antonio, one in New Braunfels, and one in Georgetown.

What are you most proud of when it comes to ThunderCloud? 
  1. Good people. Our customer base and the employees I have had the privilege of working with and learning from and the lessons we continue to learn together every day.
  2. The culture that is ThunderCloud… our employees and customers have created it.
  3. The responses people have when they learn I am an owner of ThunderCloud.
  4. Working hard for something that paid off and grew into something I never imagined.
Do you have a favorite memory from ThunderCloud’s early days? 

Buying a kick-ass stereo with our first profits.

Of all of the things ThunderCloud does to build community, what is most meaningful to you personally? 

The success of the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot. The great people within our company combined our collective enthusiasm, energy and skill sets into an Austin Thanksgiving Day tradition that has grown since 1991 to include more than 20,000  participants in 2014, and that has cumulatively contributed nearly $2.5 million dollars to Caritas of Austin to benefit the less fortunate.

What do you most love about Austin?

The people.

What are your favorite leisure time activities? 

Sailing, golf, and being with my family and friends.

Please describe your family.

I’ve been blissfully married for 36 years. We have four great kids who are each unique and fun to be with.

Is your family involved with the company, and if so, how? 

They are all involved in their own way. My wife Jeanie does thorough in-store reviews of all our shops every month. (We call her “The Inspector General.”) My two sons, Ben and Jack, work part time in ThunderCloud shops. My son Jack designs our specials posters. Rachel is instrumental in managing the Turkey Trot, and Ellie also helps with the Turkey Trot. I trust each of their unique insights and observations about ThunderCloud.

How many times per week do you eat at ThunderCloud? 

At least 4 days a week. I get fantastic service and the food is always great!

Do you have other favorite local businesses in Austin?

Deep Eddy Cabaret.

How many years have you personally run in the Turkey Trot?

Only the first three years. Since then I have been at command central on race day. I do my five miles running around in small circles.

What’s your favorite ThunderCloud Sub?

I like them all and make sure to eat every item on the menu at least a few times a year. If I had to pick one……I just can’t!

 Patty Sughrue, Chief Operating Officer

When Patty Sughrue answered a classified ad for a part-time bookkeeper in 1979, she had no way of knowing that her college job would turn into a lifetime career. ThunderCloud Subs’ founders hired her, then flipped a coin to decide whose small office she would share. Andy won and got Patty. The three of them still share office space 35 years later, but now they each have their own.

Patty’s passion outside of ThunderCloud is music. She taught herself to play guitar in high school, and enjoyed jamming with family and friends, but finally got serious about music when she received the gift of professional vocal lessons for her 50th birthday. In 2011 she recorded her first CD of original music: Writers, Poets, and Singers, produced by Lloyd Maines and Terri Hendrix. She is currently working in the studio on her second album of original music.




Where were you born?

Gainesville, Texas.

Where did you go to school? 

I went to Reagan High School in Austin, and attended UT as an archeology major (didn’t graduate, yet).

Describe your role at ThunderCloud, past and present.

Started as a part-time bookkeeper in 1979 while attending UT. Grew up, got smarter, worked hard, and now I’m COO. John and Andy gave me ownership percentage after the first 30 years of undying devotion. Can’t wait to see what they will give me when I hit 60 years 🙂

What three things are you most proud of when it comes to ThunderCloud? 
  1. We NEVER compromise on food quality – EVER!
  2. We have wonderful long-term employees, both management and submarine techs.
  3. We have an honest and moral work ethic that makes me sleep really well at night.
Do you have a favorite memory from ThunderCloud’s early days?

Knowing John and Andy when they were in their 20s and would come to work in those little bitty jogging shorts from the 70s. They were the first real Yankees I was ever around, and their accents sounded weird to me. My family actually accused me of starting to sound like a Yankee from hanging out with them so much, and would tell me to slow down my talking! It’s especially funny because they’ve always made fun of my accent.

Of all of the things ThunderCloud does to build community, what is most meaningful to you personally? 

The ability to help in crisis situations; to be able to react quickly to feed emergency personnel during fires or catastrophic events. I like being able to help, on smaller scales, by feeding underprivileged children’s groups or smaller adult groups trying to improve themselves. It’s not always as glamorous as big charitable events, but it makes me feel like we made a difference one person or small group at a time. And, of course, I am extremely proud of our annual ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot. My family and I have worked at every single one of them, and we are all so proud of its positive impact on Austin.

What do you most love about Austin?

It’s pretty to look at. I like the Town Lake trail and the surrounding hills and rivers. It’s real pretty to see when you’re driving in or out at night.

What are your favorite leisure time activities?

Playing and writing music with my husband, Big Paul, and my son. I also love to travel with them, and just hang out together.

Please describe your family.

I have been married to Paul for 39 years. We were high school sweethearts who met in band. We write music together and love playing whenever we can. We recorded our first record a little over a year ago. Our son, Paul, who received his business management degree from Texas State University, is a partner in our publishing and recording business, and was executive producer on our record. He also sings on one of the tracks. We absolutely love traveling and hanging together.

Is your family involved with the company, and if so, how? 

My husband, Paul, and son, Paul, have worked at every ThunderCloud Sub Turkey Trot with me since the very first one. We always host a Thanksgiving dinner afterwards for our extended family; the Meddaughs and all of theirs, and anyone we can scoop up at the Trot hungry for food and fun.  My son, Paul Jr., is our operations manager and runs the Guadalupe store. He also does the quality control and inspections for all of our stores.

How many times per week do you eat at ThunderCloud? 

Five—we eat something from one of the stores every day.

Do you have other favorite local businesses in Austin?

I like to eat at Z Tejas and the dive-iest Mexican food places I can find. We go to Siena for special dinners out. I still honky tonk at the Broken Spoke. I was lucky enough to play on stage at the Cactus Cafe on a Songwriter’s Night. That was pretty special, sitting there where so many great people have played.

What’s your favorite ThunderCloud Sub?

Chicken salad on scooped-out white bread, provolone cheese, and chopped up pepperoncini peppers.