Thomas Radiator celebrates 45 years
About 46 years ago, Jimmy Thomas opened Thomas Radiator in downtown Brewton. The building is no longer there, but it was near the car wash on Mildred Street. His future father-in-law worked with him.
After a few years at the Mildred Street location, Thomas moved his business to Alco where there was a row of buildings that he joined together to have more space.
During this time, he married Helen Roland and they had two sons, Timmy and Ricky, In time they too would come into the business, and today, Jimmy said he just comes in when he is needed. After some health problems, he has decided to take a back seat and let the sons handle the business.
At one time, he said a radiator shop was a good way to make a living.
“It’s a lot different these days,” he said. “Times have changed and we have to change along with them. Today we don’t do much radiator work. It’s being done by large companies and much of it is done overseas.”
Thomas then moved into another building which is located in Alco on South Blvd. They expanded to include working on law mowers and other small engines. Today just about all of their business comes from that. They sell and service lawn mowers, weed cutters and other small engines. Timmy does the repair work while Ricky works in sales.
“This is the busiest time of the year for us,” said Jimmy. “When the weather seemed like it might be time to work outside, we began to be very busy. Most people know where we are and although the sign says Thomas Radiators, we don’t do them anymore. The sign hasn’t changed because it would cost a fortune to change it.”
Small family businesses have a hard time making it in these days and one that has been here as long as Thomas Radiator must be doing something right. They have adjusted to the changes and the future seems bright for this hometown business. Jimmy and his sons, Timmy and Ricky, know and understand the products they sell. They also know their customers and that goes a long way.