Thompson’s: Family tradition endures

For well over a century, Clair D. Thompson and Sons Inc. has shaped the landscape of area small business while successfully keeping the company in the family for what will soon be five generations.

Created in 1887 by Ledy Curtin Thompson, the company has gone through four name changes, a major market collapse and hurricane flood waters, but is still working out of the same building at 400 Allegheny St., in Jersey Shore, and continues looking to the future.

When the first Thompsons began, they were delivering meat by horse and buggy that was stored right under the wagon under ice, said Dick Thompson, third generation owner of Clair D. Thompson and Sons Inc.

“Back then they farmed and slaughtered their own products,” Thompson said.

But when markets began springing up in the area in the early 1900’s, the company evolved to distributing to them.

During the market collapse of 1929 and the following depression, only a few area markets and retail stores remained opened through family business cooperation two of them in Jersey Shore, Thompson said.

“We still pride ourselves in supporting many other family businesses that can’t meet the demands of big businesses,” Thompson said.

The company became Claire D. Thompson food market when Dick’s father took over in the early 1930’s.

“He added the ‘and sons’ in 1964 when me and my brothers joined him,” Thompson said.

The company now specializes in producing sausage products, distributing big name meat products and supplying many other things needed to run a business.

“The food business is complicated,” Thompson said. “Because of that, we’ve evolved into a food service supplier as well. That means ordering and delivering anything necessary to maintaining and running a restaurant, hotel or establishment.”

Another unique service the company provides is the packing of private sportsmen’s venison.

“We get over 300 to 400 thousand pounds of venison every year,” Thompson said. “Some people come from North Carolina. And it’s not being distributed to the big businesses. People can bring it here and we will make it into bologna, frankfurters and other products.”

Venison not only gives the company more ways to spread their services, but keeps employees busy through the sometimes slow months of winter.

The company now employs 30 to 40 people depending on the season, with many of them being members of the family, Thompson said.

With ownership of the company being passed to the fourth and even fifth generations of Thompsons, they are looking to the future.

“Distribution of sales has grown so much that we have been thinking about expanding,” Thompson explained. The family is looking to create a separate sales branch and keep the original building strictly for manufacturing.

After 130 years of the mindset of progressive business, the Thompson’s understand how important family is.

“A family business keeps members of the family in the area,” Thompson explained. “We’re all close. It’s good for family gatherings, but it’s important in a business because we all share the same work ethic