Heavy equipment manufacturing is in Chris Thompson’s blood. His grandfather, along with his father and uncle, founded Thompson Pump in 1970 to meet the pumping and dewatering needs of customers in Central Florida. Today, the Port Orange-based company serves more than 6,000 national and international clients in the heavy construction, remediation, underground utility, road building, mining and agricultural industries, as well as municipalities and other government agencies. Thompson Pump also boasts a robust distribution network for sales, rentals, parts and service that includes more than 20 rental branches and several company-owned support centers.
Chris Thompson has been at the helm of Thompson Pump as the company’s president and CEO since 2014. Despite his family connections, he started at the bottom and worked his way to the top, beginning with a series of odd jobs performed during summer breaks.
“I definitely started out at the bottom,” Thompson said. “I remember being 10 years old or so and coming in on summer breaks, and working in the business to learn the basics. Some of the things I would do at that age were helping out with our mid-year and end-of-year inventory, physically counting the parts and doing really simple stuff. That was the first job I remember doing part-time growing up.”
Thompson continued to work in the business part time during the summers before going on to attend college at the University of Florida. In 1999, after graduating with a business degree, Thompson went to work at the family business full time. He was put into an informal management training program of sorts that allowed him to hop from one department to the next, helping him get a better feel for the business’s day-to-day operations. However, in the early days, rentals were where Thompson found his niche.
“My early career was in the rental side of the business, working with our locations here in Florida, and, over time, I took over one branch and then the next branch, until I was in charge of the region – and I was Florida regional manager for a number of years,” he said. “Eventually, I took over the responsibility for all of our rental branches. Four years ago, I took over as president of the company, not just on the rental side, but the manufacturing side of the business as well.”
In his role as president of Thompson Pump, Thompson works with his team to establish strategies and goals for the company, as well as ensure that employees have the tools and training necessary to take care of customers and help the business grow.
“One of the things I really enjoy about working in the heavy equipment industry is that there’s always a new challenge: There are new projects to get involved with, and new distributors and customers to meet and get to know,” he said. “The long-term relationships we build with great people is one of my favorite things about this work.”
To people who may be considering a career in the heavy equipment industry, Thompson offered this advice: “Work hard with your customers’ interests in mind – and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit. Find ways to help your company or coworkers be successful. Growing businesses, especially family-owned businesses, are always looking for ways to adapt and do things better. To do that, you have to have good people who are committed to helping the company evolve. For someone who’s just starting in the industry, being willing to do whatever it takes to help customers and help the company grow will really help them stand out and succeed.”
When he’s not busy fulfilling his duties as president of Thompson Pump, Thompson enjoys spending time with his wife and three kids, watching college football and catching lobster in the Florida Keys.
For more information on Thompson Pump, visit www.thompsonpump.com or connect with the company on social media.