As they became more involved in the business, the brothers learned from their father what drove growth: technical expertise, great customer service and strong product lines.
Through more than 24 locations in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, Thermal Supply has built a business distributing air-conditioning, heating, and refrigeration equipment, parts, and accessories. The company, which grew from a mere three locations over the years, specializes in supplying products from Daikin, Goodman, Copeland, Larkin, Manitowoc, Sporlan, and other manufacturers. Operating in the Pacific Northwest since the 1950s, the company was acquired by W. W. Monroe in 1974.
For brothers Mike and Dan Monroe, the presidents of Thermal Supply Inc., the HVAC business is personal. They grew up with Thermal Supply, the family business. Their grandfather bought the business in 1970 and then sold it to his son, Bob, before they bought it from their father in 2000. With this history and with so much of their lives invested in refrigeration and HVAC, they’ve developed a great respect for the people who make up this industry.
We have the greatest people in the industry,” Mike Monroe says. “Good, hard-working, honest people who are doing the best they can. We try to mirror that. It’s a really good industry to be in.”
Thermal Supply has come a long way since it began as a refrigeration supply house in 1947 for the commercial and industrial markets. The business is now considered a premier HVAC and HVACR wholesale distributor in the residential and commercial markets. Headquartered in Seattle, Thermal Supply has 24 branches with territory that extends from Montana to Alaska.
When Wendell Monroe, the grandfather of Mike and Dan, bought Thermal Supply in 1970, it was still a refrigeration supply house with just two branches. Wendell’s son, Bob, took over the business two years later and added HVAC to its inventory. He saw diversification as the clearest path for growth. It was a strategy that worked: Thermal Supply grew to 17 branches under Bob’s adept leadership. Mike and Dan bought the business from him in 2000.
Mike and Dan both worked at Thermal Supply as kids, spending their summers and winter breaks in the warehouse. After college, their father Dan and Mike Monroe worked for their dad early on, and then came back after college to help guide the company encouraged them to try different roles outside the industry. Dan graduated from California Polytechnic State University and went to work as a refrigeration engineer. Mike graduated two years later from the University of Oregon and went into sales. In the early 1990s, they came back to Thermal Supply and worked their way up in the business. “I started in the role of a counter person and salesperson, became a regional sales manager and then a regional manager,” he says.
As they became more involved in the business, the brothers learned from their father what drove growth: technical expertise, great customer service and strong product lines — both on the refrigeration and the HVAC side. They took in the lessons of their father, who had worked very hard to develop solid relationships with vendors and create partnerships. Mike and Dan followed in their father’s footsteps by continuing to grow the HVAC business.