It all started with a dream.
It began with two men and their dream of one day owning a welding and industrial supply business. They were Don Thompson and Clarence "Tommy" Thompson, who grew up the sons of a local blacksmith and became welders by trade.
In the early 1940's, money was tight and banks were leery of making loans after the Great Depression. It was at this time that Don and Tommy Thompson thought of an inexpensive way to generate capital. In 1946, they built the "Roller Dome," an open-air roller skating rink, which was planned to be a temporary venture while they focused on their ultimate business goals. They ran the skating rink year round in the evenings and on weekends as their part-time jobs. One year later, they converted a corner of the Roller Dome into a small showroom—thus opening Thompson Brothers Welding and Industrial Supply.
As the business grew, they added a 1,500-square-foot warehouse at the rear of the Roller Dome. This allowed them to add more storage for gas cylinders and two truck bays for loading and unloading supplies. In 1948, the two brothers purchased a piece of land to the east of the Roller Dome at 2319 W. 8th Street and started to build a retail location with a showroom, warehouse and two docking bays. They continued operation of the Roller Dome while they worked on growing their primary business.
The family owned business was incorporated in the state of Kansas on March 26, 1965. In 1971, Tommy bought out Don's share of the company and continued expanding business, doubling its size over the next few years.
In the fall of 1978, Clarence "Tommy" Jewel Thompson passed away. His three sons, Rick Thompson, Nick Thompson and Tommy Thompson, and son-in-law James McGuire acquired the business from their mother, Katherine Thompson. With all four members working to advance the company, new lines of inventory were added and operations were expanded to include such things as sales and service of fire extinguishers, safety products, automotive paint and body repair products and other lines of industrial supplies.
In the mid 1980's, through acquisition of another area welding supply distributor, the company more than doubled its welding gas business. The subsequent acquisition of the Warburton Valve buildings on West 4th Street in Coffeyville allowed Thompson Brothers to expand its gas cylinder filling operation to include oxygen, nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, propane and several specialty gas mixtures.
In June 1997, Thompson Brothers acquired Jones Welding Supply in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, further widening its territory and increasing the total showroom, primary warehouse, cylinder handling facility and secondary warehouse in that community to over 50,000 square feet of space.
The company experienced yet another growth spurt in June 2016, with the acquisition of Denison Welding Supply, adding branch store locations in Chanute and Fredonia, Kansas.
With this most recent expansion, Thompson Brothers has positioned itself as a leading regional distributor in southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma and southwest Missouri, serving the welding, industrial, automotive and industrial finishing markets. The company continues to enhance its service offerings, including an in-house specialty gas lab and gas certification; in-house repair facility for most major brands of machines and equipment; wide-reaching delivery and installation service; and an array of rental welding equipment. Likewise, company leaders strive diligently to say abreast of emerging trends in industrial technology and practices to help provide their customers with relevant inventory and knowledge to stay competitive in their own businesses.
In its 70 years of operations, the Thompson family has built a solid reputation for standing beside its customers – our neighbors and friends – as together we’ve weathered personal challenges, economic highs and lows and the dynamics of an ever-changing industry. Through it all, we have learned that there are many ways to measure success and, thanks to visionary founders Don and Tommy, an American dream can still come true.