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Thompson Tractor Honors First Responders at Reopening

Mon October 21, 2019 - Southeast Edition #22
CEG



Flanked by their Panama City, Fla., staff, owners Lucy Thompson Marsh (L) and Mike Thompson (R) officially cut the ribbon for the grand re-opening of the Panama City branch exactly one year to the day of the devastation from Hurricane Michael.

On Oct. 10, exactly one year to the day of the destruction of its Panama City, Fla., branch location from the wrath of Hurricane Michael, Thompson Tractor held a grand re-opening after a complete rebuild. The event was held for the employees, city/county dignitaries and emergency management and first responders from the area.

Hurricane Michael was the third-strongest storm to hit the United States and the first Category 5 hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle with countless buildings completely destroyed and virtually all of the valuable timber and pine trees in the entire region snapped like twigs.

"Although this is the one-year anniversary, the overall recovery isn't a one-year recovery, nor two," Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said. "This is a five to 10-year recovery. We're glad to see Thompson Tractor back in business as before. Their equipment is key to our rebuilding, and we're currently running the largest county-run debris operation in the United States. It's a big job to clean up all this debris and we couldn't do it without this kind of equipment. It's good to see Thompson's continued support for the recovery efforts. We've made great progress in a year, but we still have a long way to go. We're just so thankful for the outpouring of support and generosity from other areas of the state and from the entire country."

Owner Mike Thompson spoke to the crowd and gave an overview of the storm damage and rebuild, but mainly wanted to thank the teams and great vendors that worked hard to put the facilities back together. He stated that the rebuilding included lots of improvements to bring the branch up to 2019 standards.

Rebuilding was a long process, with lots of moving parts, in which the entire facility was completely gutted and brought down to the main steel beams and concrete. Lots of upgrades to current standards, including roofing that will withstand higher winds and a redesigned front office area that incorporates a training room for customers and employees. Otherwise, the exact "footprint" of the facility is the same as before.

Lucy Thompson Marsh recognized each and every one of the branch employees individually and all of the first responders and officials of Panama City and Bay County in attendance. After everyone was duly recognized, Lucy and Mike Thompson had a special presentation to the Bay County Sherriff's Department and to Bay County Fire and Rescue. Both of these operations were presented with a brand-new Cat CUV82 utility vehicle wrapped in Bay County Sherriff and Bay County Fire and Rescue graphics.

Chief Mark Bowen, Bay County Fire, said he was blown away with being given a Cat UTV. "This is absolutely outstanding and the best grand opening I've ever been to," Bowen said. "Our main use for this will be for medical response where there is limited access. Our firefighters have demonstrated a need for something like this for years, but with budgets going to big fire apparatus and other financial constraints, it's been very-very difficult to justify. Thompson Tractor has given this to us and it will be used to save lives." CEG

The new facility looks better than ever.
The new facility looks better than ever.

Just after the hurricane and after rebuild, the office entrance and parts pick-up area are back up and running better than before.
Just after the hurricane and after rebuild, the office entrance and parts pick-up area are back up and running better than before.

Just after the hurricane and after rebuild, the office entrance and parts pick-up area are back up and running better than before.
Just after the hurricane and after rebuild, the office entrance and parts pick-up area are back up and running better than before.

The shop area, which was left in shambles and without roof coverage, is now fully functional with many upgrades for 2019 standards.
The shop area, which was left in shambles and without roof coverage, is now fully functional with many upgrades for 2019 standards.

The shop area, which was left in shambles and without roof coverage, is now fully functional with many upgrades for 2019 standards.
The shop area, which was left in shambles and without roof coverage, is now fully functional with many upgrades for 2019 standards.

Flanked by their Panama City, Fla., staff, owners Lucy Thompson Marsh (L) and Mike Thompson (R) officially cut the ribbon for the grand re-opening of the Panama City branch exactly one year to the day of the devastation from Hurricane Michael.
Flanked by their Panama City, Fla., staff, owners Lucy Thompson Marsh (L) and Mike Thompson (R) officially cut the ribbon for the grand re-opening of the Panama City branch exactly one year to the day of the devastation from Hurricane Michael.

To help with medical response, Thompson Tractor presented Chief Mark Bowen of Bay County Fire and Rescue with a new Cat CUV82 during the event.
To help with medical response, Thompson Tractor presented Chief Mark Bowen of Bay County Fire and Rescue with a new Cat CUV82 during the event.

The Bay County Sheriff’s office also was presented with a new Cat CUV82 and Sherriff Tommy Ford gave the donation a big thumbs up.
The Bay County Sheriff’s office also was presented with a new Cat CUV82 and Sherriff Tommy Ford gave the donation a big thumbs up.