Thompson Construction Supply
Dedicated to building lasting relationships with customers, Thompson Construction Supply (TCS) serves professional contractors throughout Southern California. By understanding the importance that its products play in each construction project, TCS supplies quality hardware, tools and materials and maintains buying power that ensures customers are receiving the best price.
The Thompson name is synonymous with building materials as TCS is part of the Thompson Organization, which owns several companies that are affiliated with each other but operate independently. The Thompson Organization is privately owned by Ken Thompson and includes one of the largest building materials suppliers in Southern California, Thompson Building Materials.
The company’s door and frame division fell on hard times during the recession of 2008. Looking to diversify, Thompson Door & Frame hired Robert Leos to create a division that specifically catered to the contractor supply market. “My job initially was to attract different types of contractors outside of the building material and door and frame circles that Thompson was already servicing,” says Leos, who is now the vice president and general manager of TCS. “Ken Thompson’s goal was to create a business that services the professional concrete, landscape and excavating contractors. Establishing this primary business connection would create secondary opportunities for the other Thompson affiliates to service and cross-sell to these customers, thereby creating growth opportunities for all.”
Since the expansion, Leos has witnessed significant growth in the company. The Thompson organization is currently experiencing pre-recession sales numbers. TCS gross sales are up more than 300 percent when compared to pre-recession sales numbers.
Recognizing the market
TCS has created a niche for itself in the Southern California market by creating a civil and stormwater solutions division that services underground utilities. With markets that TCS serves, the company virtually has no competition that matches the products and services provided.
In venturing into numerous new markets, Leos says it all comes down to having the right team of people in order to be successful. “I’m just the guy that brings in the right people to get the job done,” he shares. “My team and I saw how the drought in California changed the way the state and its residents look at water. Conservation, retention and treatment are now a way of life in California. This prompted us to research the viability of penetrating the market. We were surprised to find no one was applying a full-service approach to this facet of the industry.”
Leos credits TCS’s successful expansion and recent diversification to the company’s private ownership under Thompson. “This type of success is what happens when you work for a visionary,” he says. “Ken empowers his management team to be as creative and aggressive as they possibly can.”
A challenge that TCS has been faced with is one that many firms in the construction industry have experienced, which is finding qualified people. Leos says this problem, coupled with younger generations lacking opportunities in the industry during the market crash in 2008, has prevented a lot of younger people from being trained and able to move up in the industry. “It created what I call a talent vacuum,” shares Leos. “Due to the lack of growth during the recession, many people in mid and upper management remained static in their positions. This prevented the younger generation from receiving training and utilizing those newfound skills to move upward within the industry.”
TCS is combating the dwindling talent pool by investing heavily in training its younger workers and creating interesting opportunities. Approaching a decade since the market crash, much of the workforce that existed during the recession is now getting ready to retire. With the lack of a highly-trained workforce following them, TCS is initiating a major effort to educate and train its younger staff. “The cost associated with learning and development is negligible,” says Leos. “It’s mostly on-the-job training, which is far more effective than any classroom training could ever be. The investment now is going to pay off tremendous dividends when our future talent is more knowledgeable and has a more prominent presence in the field than that of my competition.”
The right company
After working for TCS for five years, Leos remains confident that working for a privately-owned company allows more opportunity for success of the business as well as the employees. With streamlined communication, direct answers and empowerment of management, Leos has found that TCS is more about making good, sound business decisions, rather than strict policies. “That’s really where we get things done,” he says. “Ken empowers us to make immediate and commanding decisions.”
As TCS moves forward, Leos’ immediate goal is to bolster up the company’s processes. With the exponential growth that TCS is experiencing annually, the company will focus on technology and communications. “It’s not hard to keep up with technology,” says Leos. “All I have to do is listen to my customers and they will tell me what I need to do.” With a passion for the industry and dedication to customer service, Thompson Construction Supply is on pace to remain a leader in the Southern California construction industry.
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