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December 2017
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Thompson and Johnson Equipment Co. celebrates 60 years
Clete Campbell
Clete Campbell

The New York material handling scene in 1954 was young and in need for both a supplier and provider for customers forklift needs. Enter an entrepreneurial company named Thompson and Johnson Equipment Co., Inc.  Founded by Lawrence “Tommy” Thompson and George Johnson, they had a business theory they believed in and practiced daily: Take care of the customer and the employee. That was the only way they knew how and wanted to do business.

“George developed a culture that emphasized taking care of both the customers and employees to benefit everyone” says Thompson and Johnson’s President, David Schneckenburger. The vision follows the simplest but truest of American business philosophies. Due to this philosophy, this continued family owned company is the go to forklift dealer in Upstate New York and is a major regional player. 

T&J recorded $38 million dollars in revenue in 2013, a stunning 35 percent growth rate over its $28 million dollar year in 2010. The company’s mission statement remains clear, no matter how drastically the industry has changed since 1954. Their mission to “Provide leading products and services to ensure they deliver our promised performance” is reinforced by the T&J Stability Triangle which consists of a three-tier stakeholder emphasis on customer, employee, and company.  Each stakeholder in the triangle must be considered in all decision making processes.

The attention to product performance detail and customer satisfaction is the main reason that T&J has one of the industry’s most envious consumer satisfaction rates.  “We send out a personally signed survey to customers for all new and used powered equipment after it is delivered and for all major service repairs completed, and we receive over 95 percent positive/satisfied comments. Any issues that develop are elevated quickly to ensure that we take care of our customers,” Schneckenburger said.

In the beginning, Tommy and George started small with the initial mission to become Syracuse’s top Clark dealer. It didn’t take long for the duo to learn the dealership business and how to provide exceptional customer service. They started by working with their customers they had already sold equipment to , but now were providing  local parts, service and sales support as a dealer instead of those services being provided by the manufacturer. Their vision was to become the best Clark dealer possible.

From there, T&J developed its service repair department, jumping ahead of the industry and the times by building a large organization that included mechanics, welders, machinists, and engine motor and transmission rebuilding specialists. The company also embraced long term rental with full maintenance service, and was ready with the staff and repair facilities needed to perform quality repairs in a minimum amount of time. They controlled the repair process from start to finish to ensure quality and turnaround time.

Today, Thompson & Johnson is a highly respected dealer, representing Toyota and Crown, the top two domestic forklift manufacturers, and Bobcat, the leading manufacturer of compact construction equipment in the world. Complimenting those lines are Clark, Sellick and Hoist forklifts, Advance, and American Lincoln industrial floor sweepers and scrubbers, Cushman personnel and burden carriers, Hawker industrial batteries and chargers, Universal Horizontal Directional Drills and Bandit chippers and stump grinders. 

The company will be celebrating its 60th anniversary with an anniversary publication and with a dinner dance for all employees and spouses. “We believe Tommy and George would be happy with our employees and customer retention and of course our overall growth, which is driven by our culture and highlighted by the T&J Stability Triangle,” Schneckenburger said.

Thompson & Johnson Equipment Co. already has a clear plan on where they want to be in its next 60 years. “We hope in 60 years to continue to be a family-owned business that treats its employees and customers with respect, while representing the top manufacturers in our chosen markets,” Schneckenburger said.

Clete Campbell is a freelance journalist with 16 years of daily newspaper experience.   E-mail to contact Clete.