Page 617-618 - Tom Thoits. To say that Tom Thoits was secretary and treasurer of the Welch Manufacturing Company of Grand Rapids, and now president of Welch Wilmarth Corporation, is to overlook the years of close application to his work, the conscientious effort, and the characteristic energy which won for him his present position, an office gained as the just reward of pure merit alone. He was born in New Hampshire, the son of Alvin J. Thoits who came to Grand Rapids in 1904. Tom Thoits received a public school education in his native state and then attended St. John’s Military Academy, Delavan, Wisconsin. With this splendid preparation for college, he entered the University of Chicago from which he was graduated with the class of 1907. For a time thereafter, he worked in a furniture factory at Janesville, Wisconsin. The Welch Folding Bed Company, then located in Sparta, Michigan, was then looking for an able advertising manager, and upon his application, Mr. Thoits was accepted to fill that position. His work with the company was so successful that with the expiration of two years he was made sales manager of the company. His administration of this resulted in such a steadily growing trade for the company that his faithfulness and evident ability were rewarded by his appointment to the position of secretary of the company in 1913, at the same time assuming the duties of general manager. The outbreak of the World war caused an interruption in his business career, for in 1918 he went to the officers’ training camp at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, where at the end of three months he was commissioned captain. He was sent to Camp Custer where he was ranked sixth among 4,000 officers. After a time as instructor at the third camp at Camp Custer, he went to France in June, 1918, with the 338th Infantry, 85th Division. Upon his arrival in France, Captain Thoits was assigned to general headquarters and served on the general staff until his return to the United States. Following his honorable discharge from the army, he returned to Grand Rapids and resumed his duties with the Welch Manufacturing Company, of which he was soon made secretary and treasurer. The company was organized in 1880 by Lyman W. Welch and J. S. Earle and originally operated as the Welch Folding Bed Company with its plant at Sparta, Michigan. With the folding bed on the wane in popularity, the name of the firm was changed to that of the Welch Manufacturing Company, and in 1907 the plant was moved to Grand Rapids. The Hine Pickle Plant was purchased in 1919 and converted into the factory for the Welch Manufacturing Company, the plant being located on Madison street on the Pere Marquette railroad right-of-way. Since that time, a large addition has been erected, and the Grand Rapids plant and the one at Sparta which is still operated by the company employ a total of 400 men. In August 1925, the Welch Manufacturing Company and the Wilmarth Show Case Company consolidated into the Welch Wilmarth Corporation and Mr. Thoits was elected president of the new company. Mr. Thoits is recognized among his business associates as one of the ablest executives in Grand Rapids, and the fact that the concern with which he is connected ranks as one of the thriving enterprises in the city speaks for his ability as a business man, for his part in bringing about the development of the concern has been no small one.
Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 30 December 2002