Harry A. Thompson founded the company in 1908. From the very beginning the company was involved in the installation of plumbing and heating equipment and systems. The name of the company came from the fact that Harry was the father of two sons, Bernard and Harry, and also a daughter Mary. Story has it that Harry’s first love was being the first full time fire chief of Bismarck.
After graduation from Bismarck High School, Harry Jr. attended the University of North Dakota in 1926. He also attended Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for all or part of two years. Upon the death of his father in 1935, Harry Jr. took over management of the company, a position he held for the next 40 years. Many changes took place in the industry over those forty years, not the least of which was the popularization of air conditioning. The company grew and in 1953 was the successful low bidder on the Provident Life Building, a prominent landmark in Bismarck since its completion. For the next 40 years mechanical construction of large commercial projects was a major portion of the workload of the company. However, the core activity remained the service division and the commitment to this activity is what created the stability that has allowed the company to survive through all manner of economic ups and downs.
Significant construction projects that were undertaken by the company under H. A. Thompson’s, Jr. leadership were: significant improvements to the Bismarck Water Treatment Plant, piping of the surge tanks at Garrison Dam, United Power Station near Stanton, Mandan Senior High, Hughes Junior High, Schafer Hall at Bismarck State College, Annunciation Priory, St. Alexius Hospital Power Plant, Grand Pacific Hotel Hall of Four Seasons, Montana Dakota Utilities Headquarter Building, First Federal Savings and Loan Office Building, Bismarck Elks Lodge, Kirkwood Mall Shopping Center, Bismarck State College Student Center, and the Holiday Inn of Bismarck.
In the early 1960’s, Bismarck changed from a central steam plant to individual gas boilers in the downtown area. A windfall for mechanical contractors, and H. A. Thompson & Sons had established themselves as one of the best. The 60’s were very good years as the company designed and installed new heating plants in many of the buildings in downtown Bismarck.
Harry Thompson Jr., being true to the company name, became the father to three sons; Harry III, Rikki, and Mark. Harry III came to be known as Tom. All three sons worked summers in the business from a very early age. Tom graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1966 and went to work for the Trane Company in Lacrosse, Wisconsin as a lab test engineer. He returned to Bismarck and the family business in 1969, and became president in 1975. Rikki attended Bismarck Junior College with Tom and then on to UND, then to the University of Minnesota. He returned to Bismarck in 1964 and operated a photography studio for several years before becoming a freelance photographer. Mark graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1971. Mark also earned a commission in the United States Air Force and spent the next four years as a navigator in KC-135's before returning to the family business in 1975.
With the demand for energy as a result of the Arab oil embargo of the early 70's the optimism on the growth of North Dakota was everywhere. The company had occupied the same facility since 1925, and in order to accommodate growth decided to build a new facility on land purchased in the 60's. The move into the current facility took place in October 1977.
Under the direction of Tom and Mark, the company continued with the service tradition and was very involved with construction of large commercial facilities in Bismarck. Since 1975, the company has been responsible for the mechanical construction of the North Dakota Heritage Center, Medcenter One, the Sheraton Galleria, the renovation of Bismarck High School, expansion of Kirkwood Motor Inn (Ramkota Hotel), Ag Expo Addition to the Bismarck Civic Center, Morton County Law Enforcement Facility, Combined Law Enforcement Facility, Burleigh County Detention Facility, First Bank Bismarck, two University of Mary student dormitories, expansion of Century High School, and many other projects.
In 1991, the LINC Corporation approached the company about becoming a franchise holder in the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning preventative maintenance business. With the service tradition this seemed a very natural extension to what the company was already doing and in 1992 the Bismarck franchise began operation.
In August of that year a competing firm was purchased, its employees and business incorporated into the company and growth took off. In December of 1992, the Fargo LINC franchise was purchased. Growth of the LINC business has been constant. In 2004, the milestone of $1,000,000 in maintenance base was reached.
Through the expansion of the LINC preventative maintenance business, the traditional H. A. Thompson & Sons business has not suffered. With the addition of a construction manager in 1995 new emphasis was placed upon the productivity of the construction division. Plumbing service has been a mainstay of the company since its beginning and remains a very integral part of who we are.
In a state that has seen declining in population and with rural areas being tested, the challenges are certainly out there. The need to service and maintain mechanical equipment will always be there and the resolve of the company and its employees to be the best provider of that service will ensure the future of the company.