Case Studies

Thomasson Company

Time-tested by Clients Down the Line

Thomasson Company (Thomasson) was founded in 1972; however, the experience backing the business spans over generations. Thomasson has since become one of the industry’s most reliable resources for cross arms, crane mats, wooden utility poles, Douglas Fir poles, piling, railroad ties, treated fence posts, creosote, ACZA- and CCA-treated products, as well as treated wood cross ties.

Patricia (Pat) Thomasson, CEO of Thomasson, details that lumber is in her family’s blood. “My great-grandfather was in logging and saw milling,” Pat says. “My grandfather was in logging and sawmilling. My father was brought up in the wood business, and he and my mom started Thomasson with brokerage operations. We have grown from there.”

Pat grew up in the industry, just as her father did, and has taken over operation of the family business in his footsteps. Today the company, based in Philadelphia, Miss., employs a team of 36 people. Thomasson’s highly capable team distributes wood products across the country and exports globally.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate to have a diverse client base and employees with a can-do attitude,” says Pat. “The industry is ever-changing. We are constantly looking for new ways to bring the most value to our customers.”

With over 40 years of growth and changes in both the market and the company’s operations, one thing has remained consistent at Thomasson Company. “It’s a family mindset here,” Pat says. And her saying so is correct, as many of the company’s staff and upper management have been involved in the business as long as she has.

Brent Gray, president of Thomasson, has been with the company for 25 years, while Randy DeWeese, vice president of operations, has been with Thomasson for almost 35 years. “We’re all like family here,” Pat says.

Venturing the Globe While Tending Business at Home

The majority of Thomasson’s export operations have focused on Central and South America, according to Pat. “We’re looking to build on what we already have and trying to work this hemisphere more,” she says. However, the Thomasson team sees great opportunity to expand to other continents.

Brent reports the company recently exported pilings to the Middle East for a port project to create docks for mega yachts. “At this time we’re developing our export division,” says Brent. “Our focus was initially in the Western Hemisphere. Our strategy now is to move across the globe.”

Thomasson’s strategic move to export products is based on the local economy. “The economy here is status quo,” says Brent. “The domestic market is saturated, and even somewhat declining. That’s one reason we have pursued export.” Thomasson’s most popular exporting efforts include railroad ties and utility poles. According to Brent, he sees potential with increasing the sale and export of crane mats, as well.

In addition to expansive growth plans, Thomasson is well-established at home, as well. The company has regional distribution centers across the United States, which helps reduce cost and expedite deliveries. The company’s local benefits come in handy when Thomasson is helping in disaster relief response.

The Thomasson team has proven capabilities to respond quickly, and the company works with many other companies across the country to ensure sufficient supply. The team will also increase manufacturing capacities to meet the demand that comes after a major natural disaster.

“We respond to natural disasters,” says Pat. “It’s a terrible thing. But, if a hurricane, tornado or ice storm hits, we supply a lot of poles. We just focus on supplying the needed products as fast as we can. We help more people that way.”

Thomasson specializes in providing poles for projects, which are preventive maintenance. Brent reports that the company recently supplied a two-year project for Central Maine Power. For the Maine Power Reliability Program, Central Maine Power invested $1.55 billion to modernize a 40-year-old bulk power system.

“We sent wood poles to Maine so that 365 miles of transmission line could be rebuilt,” says Brent. “The project required extensive pole material.” Thomasson provided Douglas Fir, Southern Yellow Pine and Western Red Cedar laminated poles up to 125 feet in length for the massive project.

Plans for the Future

The success of such an extensive project brought both pride and hope to the company. “I think our outlook is bright for the future,” says Pat. “We’ve got some great people working with us.” The team at Thomasson is optimistic the housing market will begin to pick up. “Whenever there’s new housing, which means more utility poles,” jokes Pat.

As environmentally friendly building practices are becoming more common, Thomasson is also emphasizing its green-friendly production process. The company utilizes bark peeled from trees to create steam used in the drying process to help reduce the demand for electricity and other natural resources.

Pat also mentions marketing other types of wood products. While the company has sold mostly poles and piling for the last few years, crane mats, lumber and other products are now being marketed by Thomasson.

Pat believes that there is a great future for the company, and Brent also anticipates 2013 will be a good year for the team at Thomasson. “Things are going to take a lot of hard work to make it that way though,” he admits. No matter what it takes, Thomasson Company Inc. team’s will to work hard will ensure many more successful years.

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