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TEP Electrical Distributors celebrates 100 years in business

2nd February 2021

THIS week’s trader of the week goes to a Darlington electrical firm that recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary as a longstanding local business.


For the last century, family business TEP Electrical Distributors, owned by Nimble Thompson, has supplied electrical expertise to traders and public across the region.


Services provided include electrical accessories, solutions for LED lighting design, smart home systems and security, electric heating solutions, and CCTV.


Sarah Marshall, general manager of the firm, said: “We are quite humbled to be chosen as The Northern Echo’s trader of the week, and we are all very proud of our heritage.


“We place great importance on our relationships with our contractors and customers within our community and are grateful for their continued loyalty and support - without it we couldn’t have made our 100 years in business happen.”


On March 5, 1920, the current owner’s grandfather, Fred Thompson, a former Captain in the Royal Engineers and qualified electrical engineer, opened the company in Hartlepool.


A Darlington branch was then set up in 1946 when the current owner’s father, Douglas Thompson, a spitfire pilot, returned from the second world war after being badly injured in combat.


He expanded the business from a one room office to the current Valley Street base.


After the death of Douglas Thompson in the 1980s, the family was determined to keep the business going.


The current owner, Nimble Thompson, after retiring from a successful career in corporate dispute law, brought in the fourth generation of the family and made his son, Archie, an investment director in the city, director to offer expert guidance from the board room.


Mike Prior headed the team until recently handing the reins over to Ms Marshall.


Like many other small businesses, the firm had to make various changes in order to adapt to the ever-changing Covid guidelines.


Ms Marshall said: “It has been such a hard year for so many traders, and we recognise that other retail sectors have been hit harder than ours.


“For the first lockdown, we closed our trade counter and operated a very limited call and collect service to ensure our contractors could carry out their essential work, as well as adhering to the Government restrictions to keep our staff and business Covid-safe.


“The current management team has been in position since January 2020, so we had to hit the ground running in ways we never could have foreseen, but we have over 80 years’ of experience working within TEP across the full team.


“As the restrictions have changed, lifted, and tightened throughout the pandemic, we have ensured all the latest Covid-safe rules and guidelines have been strongly adhered to, as customer and staff safety has been paramount.


“We have wealth of knowledge and experience which has come into its own during our most challenging time and enabled us to stay strong as an independent, family-owned firm, and we are personally, as well as professionally, invested in our business.”


Recently, the business reached its 100th anniversary since starting up in Hartlepool, and although Covid restrictions made it difficult to celebrate, the team managed to find an appropriate way to mark the occasion.


“Our original plans were put on hold due to the pandemic when keeping our staff and customers safe became paramount,” Ms Marshall said.


“However, we didn’t want the milestone to pass without marking it in some way, so we made private donations to two local charities, TFM’s Cash for Kids and Darlington-based St Teresa’s Hospice.


“We also made a personal donation to Mike Hind MBE, in recognition for all of his impressive and selfless work within our community.


“We then held a small event attended by Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen to officially mark the milestone, and despite these challenging times, the business has gone from strength to strength, and plans are in preparation for the company’s next century in business.


“I would like to thank all of the team at TEP for their expertise, dedication, and for rising to every challenge we’ve been faced with, especially over the last year, and all of our contractors and customers for their loyalty and support.”



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