THE TOMMARK DIFFERENCE
In 1973, Tom Larson saw the need for a wholesale heating business in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. He had served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and returned home to work for an HVAC manufacturer. Not long after, he opened Climate Equipment Supply. When the recession started in 1973, Tom started looking for a partner to help grow the business. He decided on Mark Sur, a sales rep in the Honeywell Residential Division. The business enjoyed tremendous growth with help from the booming economy and became a leading HVAC equipment supplier.
The oil crisis thrust the country into another recession in 1981. With the resulting downturn in the housing market, Tom and Mark were looking for other business categories to expand into. The owner of Leo Tilford Company in Jackson, Michigan asked if they were interested in purchasing his company. Tilford was a temperature controls distributor that had been in business since 1921. Since Mark had a controls background and was familiar with Tilford’s business model from his time at Honeywell, they decided it was a natural fit and completed the acquisition in late 1982.
In 1986, The Tilford Company opened a branch in Lansing to serve its commercial temperature controls customers. In 1989, Climate Equipment Supply of Grand Rapids opened.
The next opportunity for Tom and Mark came in 1998 when they purchased SoMiCo Supply in Coldwater, Michigan. The 20-year-old business was unique in that it built its own sheet metal requirements, including 6-inch elbows.
Also in 1998, the decision was made to increase efficiency and merge the five companies—Tommark (Tom + Mark) was born. The 26-year partnership came to an end in 2000 as Mark retired. His half of the business was purchased by Tom’s sons, Scott and Jon. Scott had joined the company full time in 1991 and Jon in 1995. Both worked summers for many years and following college had decided to stay in the industry.
In 2001, Tommark acquired its sixth location, the Killmer Corporation, a family-owned business in Saginaw, Michigan. A year later, the company expanded to new locations in Traverse City and Madison Heights. Following the “great recession” of 2008, Traverse City branch closed.