From the moment he joined the family grocery business at the age of 15, Thomas Bacon French Thompson showed a real entrepreneurial spirit. A few years later he purchased his first lorry and started a haulage business which progressed into used lorry sales and then he acquired the franchises from Leyland Allusion AEC and Scammell commercial vehicles.
In 1958 he turned his business into a limited company with the creation of TBF Thompson (Garvagh) Ltd. In 1961 the company held a show in Belfast at which £250,000 worth of vehicles were sold - a vast turnover for those days, comparable with £40 million today.
In 1985 TBF retired, however the company continued under the leadership of Andy Magowan, who had joined the company in 1969 as assistant accountant and who became a director in 1974. In 1995 Andy was successful in acquiring The Leyland DAF dealership with the purchase of GMS.
Since acquiring the DAF Trucks franchise, the commercial vehicle side of the business has gone from strength to strength. In May 2001 the premises at the DAF depot in Mallusk were extended and refurbished and 2004 saw the relocation of the Portadown depot to purpose built premises.
In 2015, DAF Trucks celebrated the 20th anniversary of its partnership with TBF Thompson. In marking that 20th anniversary, DAF Trucks’ Managing Director, Ray Ashworth commented: “TBF Thompson is an excellent example of how relationships can flourish and can result in long-standing business partnerships - not just between dealer and manufacturer, but, more importantly, with local operators. “It’s no mean feat to have built up a successful business, particularly over the last decade! We have an established presence in Northern Ireland commanding some 25% of the market, and I know the brand is in safe hands for the next 20 years with TBF Thompson.”
June 2016 marked the beginning of a “New Chapter” when Andy decided to retire and Raymond Crilly took over as Managing Director and Dealer Principal together with fellow Directors, Alan Espie (Commercial) and Seamus Doherty (Plant). “The support we have received in this new venture has been tremendous” says Raymond “and we are delighted to have retained all of the major franchises including DAF Trucks.”
“We have exciting plans for the future of the company,” Raymond comments. “Our aim is that the TBF Thompson name will continue to be at the forefront of the plant and commercial vehicle business in Northern Ireland for many years to come.”