Company Timeline

The Thomson-Gordon Group has accomplished a lot in our 100+ year history. Our company started as, and remains, a family owned business that is dedicated to innovation and environmental protection.


Major George J. Thomson
Major George J. Thomson, while writing home from the front in 1916, remained involved in all aspects of his fledgling Canadian industrial distribution business he started in 1911. At this time the company was making packing sand gaskets and selling engineers’ supplies to the mills and boats.

The Major considered himself fortunate to have survived the Great War that saw so many of his comrades perish. Arriving back home in Hamilton, Ontario from overseas, he immediately involved himself in company affairs and expansion plans.


Thomson-Gordon Literature circa 1930s
By 1936, George together with partner Earl Gordon, had steered their company - Thomson-Gordon Limited, into manufacturing and distribution of a variety of products selling mostly to Stationary and Marine Engineers. The company supplied braided and sheet packing (which were manufactured on the premises) as well as tools, valves, piping and fittings, boiler supplies, nuts and bolts, and essentially everything the engineers needed to keep their steam plants alive.

The Major’s Son, George J.V. Thomson, had been a commercial photographer and architect but dropped these pursuits to enter the family business. His interests moved business growth toward the addition of general Mill Supplies including items for plant maintenance people. Air compressors, paint, pressure and temperature gauges, and roadside lanterns were later added.


Sandy Thomson (left) Assumes the Helm

The Major's Grandson and third generation owner George A. (Sandy) Thomson had been trained as a pilot and Mechanical Engineer and entered the business as the sales manager in 1965.  The prospect of manufacturing engineered components made from elastomers intrigued Sandy, so along with Dr. Pande and Dr. Bill Allan, he developed the Thordon polymer in the late 1960s.


Outside Micrometer
The world’s first polymer alloy bearing was installed in 1967 into a vertical pump in partnership with a local steel plant replacing traditional rubber bearings that typically wore out in a few weeks.

After the successful operation of the polymer installed in vertical pump applications, the marine market on Lake Ontario seemed like the perfect place to test the bearing in horizontal applications.


McKeil Marine Tug on the Great Lakes
The world’s first Thordon water lubricated propeller shaft bearing was installed on a Great Lakes tug owned by McKeil Marine in Hamilton in the late 1970s. Today McKeil is the largest tug/barge owner on the Great Lakes and still a loyal customer 40 years later. Following this conversion, many other vessels on the Great Lakes were converted to Thordon’s propeller shaft bearing system helping to put Thordon on the map in the marine industry.


Thordon's "Floating Showcase" Rudokop
In 1990, Thordon purchased the Russian deep-sea salvage tug, Rudokop, and converted it to a “floating showcase” of Thordon marine bearing and seal products. Sandy captained this ship for many years and visited more than 300 ports in Eastern and Western Europe.


Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-Class Warship
A major break through for Thordon came when we supplied propeller shaft bearings to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) - twelve new state of the art naval frigates planned to be built in the 1990s. The original bearings were specified rubber, but once installed, the rubber bearings did not meet performance and acoustic expectations. The newly formed company, Thordon Bearings Inc., was ready and Thordon’s COMPAC propeller shaft bearings were retrofitted on the initial new build, and eventually installed on the remainder of the Halifax-Class warships. Concurrently, the Canadian Navy also evaluated the performance of these elastomer shaft bearings in the Oberon-Class submarine with positive results leading to successful adoption in other submarine applications. The performance of Thordon’s COMPAC bearings with the RCN set the stage for global growth in over 40 Navies and Coast Guards worldwide.


COMPAC Installation on Disney Magic
Another break through for Thordon came in the cruise industry which was the sector responsible for the revival of water-lubricated propulsion. Princess Cruises and Disney Cruises lead the way in specifying the technology for their then newbuild cruise ships Grand Princess and Disney Magic, both of which were built by Italian shipyard Fincantieri and set to sea in 1998. Both of these vessels continue to use Canadian manufactured COMPAC bearings to this day. It was based on the proven performance and 21 years of continuous service that Thordon became the first company in the world to offer a lifetime wearlife guarantee on their COMPAC propeller shaft bearings.


Anna and Sandy
In 2005, Sandy’s step-daughter Anna Galoni entered the business to become the fourth-generation owner. Anna, born in Poland, had previously held a position as a scientist in the medical services business.


In 2011, the Thomson-Gordon Group reached a milestone and celebrated our 100th anniversary with our staff and their families. As a family-owned company, our dedicated employees were vital to our success in our first 100 years.


Slupsk, Poland Manufacturing Plant
In 2012, we invested in a manufacturing plant in Slupsk, Poland and have since expanded the plant to three times it's size. This factory is capable of making all Thordon products as a back up to the Burlington plant in the event that production in Canadian might be interrupted.


Elmer A. Sperry Award Ceremony
In 2019, Sandy won the prestigious Elmer A. Sperry award for advancing the art of transportation in recognition of leading the innovation for water-lubricated main propulsion shaft bearings for marine transport through the application of polymeric compounds. Sandy’s pioneering work in eliminating a major cause of ocean pollution – oil leaked from conventional oil lubricated tailshafts – has prevented millions of litres of oil leaking into the sea and rivers, protecting marine ecology.

The Future

Clean Ocean
Unlike many publicly traded and larger private companies, the motivation behind the on-going growth and success of Thordon Bearings has not been to enhance shareholder returns, but instead has been to provide a contribution to society in the form of superior products, valued employment, and technological advances that better the environment we live in. At Thordon, we strongly believe we should all play a role in protecting our oceans and seas for future generations.