Ink Inc

Thompson Supply Aims to Provide Printers with Full Service

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 11.02.09

The idea of providing customers with all of the supplies it needs has long been a goal for manufacturers. This is also true for the printing industry. After all, whether it is offset, screen or wide format ink jet, printers need a variety of goods to effectively run their presses, ranging from inks and fountain solutions to blankets, plates and prepress equipment. As a result, a number of ink manufacturers are working on entering the press supplies market.

When it comes to Texas, Thompson Supply has a strong head start on the market. Founded by Bill Thompson in August 1960, the company “tries to have everything offset and screen printers need, except for paper,” according to Mark Ellisor, Thompson Supply’s president and owner.

While the company offers virtually every service an offset printer requires, Thompson Supply began as an ink company.

“Bill Thompson was a salesman for Southwest Printing Ink in San Antonio before starting Thompson Supply,” Mr. Ellisor said. “My dad, Tom, bought the company in the late 1970s, and I joined the company in 1984.”

In terms of inks, Thompson Supply mostly distributes and blends litho inks manufactured by Van Son, such as its new Vs5 line, and Toyo and screen inks by QCM throughout Texas, as well as other ink companies in selected areas.Thompson Supply can also make its own ink, from formulations from the old Southwest Printing Ink.

“We sell Van Son and Toyo throughout Texas, as well as some ink lines in geographically specific areas, and we still manufacture some inks from the Southwest Printing Ink lines,” Mr. Ellisor said.

In order to meet their customers’ needs in a state as large as Texas, Thompson Supply has five facilities throughout the state. In addition to its Austin headquarters, the company has a facility in San Antonio, where Southwest Printing Ink was located, as well as mixing sites in Houston, Dallas and Lubbock.

“By being able to distribute our products throughout the state, the thought is that we make ourselves more attractive to our manufacturers,” Mr. Ellisor said.

Having strong service is essential to being a full-service supplier, and Thompson Supply has brought on experts in numerous areas that printers require, and distributes products from Fuji, Konica, the #1 Network including Seiko, and numerous other leading printing industry suppliers.

“Service is an important part,” Mr. Ellisor said. “We have people with expertise in the pressroom, in prepress and even with backgrounds in binderies. While some of our technical support people travel throughout the state, each of our locations has experts in printing.”

Despite the sluggish U.S. economy, Thompson Supply has grown over the years.

“We’ve grown quite a bit, which was kind of scary the past few years, but we’ve expanded into markets that need specific service,” Mr. Ellisor said.

For Texas offset, screen and wide format ink jet printers, Thompson Supply has become a friend they can rely on toprovide all of the supplies they require and the expertise needed to run their businesses successfully.