Thompson PHC found a way to make hay without sunshine.
Last year was one of the bleakest in history for
most of us economically. Yet Cincinnati’s
Thompson Plumbing, Heating and Cooling claims it grew more than 50 percent in
2009. The company now has more than 50 service vehicles on the road and employs
upwards of 80 people, with a penchant for hiring military
Founded more than 80 years ago, Thompson has a spiffy Web site, www.333help.com, that reveals the company to be
at the forefront of operational excellence and progressive marketing. One
element of its marketing program is especially noteworthy - adopting our
country’s disabled veterans as a way of saying thanks and reaping rewards for
the company along the way.
Last year Thompson celebrated Veteran’s Day by hosting a Veteran’s Day
Breakfast for military veterans. At the breakfast, it presented a check to the
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) for $22,470 - a portion of Thompson’s profits
from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30 that was the focal point of a “Disabled American
Veterans Campaign.” The 1.2 million-member DAV is a nonprofit organization
founded in 1920 to represent this nation’s disabled vets.
More than 100 military veterans from World
War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan attended the complimentary
breakfast, held at Thompson’s headquarters. In a PR coup, two major network
news stations broadcasted live from the event.
Thompson’s owner, Wesley Holm, conceived the
program in honor of military veterans everywhere, dedicating it especially to his father, father-in-law and Thompson
employ-ees who have served. “Thompson Plumbing, Heating and Cooling is proud to financially support these heroes who
have helped keep our country free and safe, precisely at a time when others are
cutting back on charitable giving,” said Holm.
“This is an incredible contribution at a time when our nation’s disabled
veterans and their families need our services more than ever,” said DAV’s
National Headquarters Executive Richard Patterson. His assistant, Marc Burgess,
attended the breakfast and accepted the check on the DAV’s behalf, noting that
it was one of their largest individual contributions.
Thompson PHC is doing it again this year, and every year from now on, Holm told
me. This year’s goal is to raise $25,000 for the DAV. (Persons wishing to make
a contribution to the DAV may do so via Thompson’s Web site at www.333help.com.)
The company also latched on to an equally
good cause by sponsoring the Freedom Concert. Since 2003, the Freedom
Concert Series has raised millions of dollars for the Freedom Alliance
Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarship money to the children of military
personnel who have lost their lives in service to our country.
In a telephone conversation, Holm gushed about the widespread support his
veterans’ initiatives have received from the news media and his community
at-large. Thompson’s robust performance in a miserable recessionary year ought
to raise some eyebrows about the potential of charitable marketing as a
business tool. The positive publicity he received was priceless - yet free.
“But this fundraising event was really about the heroes who have made
incredible sacrifices to ensure our freedom. A company like Thompson could not
thrive and succeed in any other country in the world,” said
He told me a big reason the event went over so well was holding it on the more
subdued Veteran’s Day rather than our widely celebrated patriotic holidays when
people are distracted by weekend getaways and cookouts. On Memorial Day or
Independence Day the breakfast likely would have been overshadowed by parades
and government ceremonies and barely noted by the news
Giving to charitable causes is worthwhile in its own right, yet nothing is
wrong with doing it in a way that also benefits your business. Opportunities
are available in every community to do well for your business by doing good for
Years ago I wrote of a PHC company that gave away free CO detectors as a
promotion, and a local TV station treated it like a public service
announcement. They sent a camera crew to a customer’s home and interviewed one
of the firm’s service technicians about the dangers of CO gas and how to
Other companies, including Thompson, have donated service agreements to PBS
stations to auction off as part of their annual fund-raising drives.
Opportunities are endless. Of course, some causes are more worthy than others,
and to my way of thinking, Thompson’s ranks near the top.