By Wendy Holdren
Although several changes have been made at Mountain State Equipment over its 40-year history, two values have remained the same — the importance of family and support of the community.
Mountain State Equipment actually started out as Thompson Excavating back in March 1973, specializing in small landscaping and snow removal.
Owner Gary Thompson Sr. said times were tough, the economy was bad and not many jobs were available in the area.
“I started the business to supplement my income, and it excelled into a large service.”
In the early 1980s, Thompson started construction work and purchased large equipment, such as dozers, backhoes and excavators.
Ten years later, he started working for larger companies through subcontracting, then in the early 2000s, he started subcontracting for coal companies for environmental work.
In 2006, Thompson Excavating bought out Mountain State Equipment, a waste oil heater service and cooling fan business, which Thompson said worked hand-in-hand with the business he had before.
In April 2013, however, Thompson sold the contracting service and now focuses on retail sales of Steele products, SCAG mowers, Cub Cadet and E-Z-Go golf carts.
He said it’s ironic that his business came full circle, now selling what he started working with in the tool line.
“Beckley has been good to me,” Thompson said. “There are good, good people in southern West Virginia.”
He said with the customer support, a hard-working staff and the help of his son — “That’s how I can survive in this business.”
His son, Gary Thompson II, has been working with him for the past 20 years.
The elder Thompson had a heart attack in 1993 and his son was discharged from the U.S. Air Force to come home and help run the family business so they wouldn’t go under.
“He has been an awesome help. You can’t hire anyone like family.”
Thompson describes his son as “intelligent, aggressive and hard-working.”
“Without him, I would have lost the business or had to close.”
His son has been managing the business completely since January this year and Thompson said he’s doing really well so far.
Thompson laughed as he said how much his son disliked the idea of working at the store when he was younger.
“I gave him the option of going to college and working here, but he decided to go to the military instead.”
Thompson’s son now has two sons of his own, so he said he hopes the business will always remain in the family.
Mountain State Equipment is located at 508 N. Eisenhower Drive in Beckley.
Business hours are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
“Our customers always come first,” Thompson said. “No matter what or how long it takes.”
For more information about products and services, call 304-253-7306 or 304-253-3389.
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