Arthur H. Thomas Company (“AHT”) has aggressive plans to move beyond its resonant history as a holding company of unique, highly engineered products and systems brands to a business driving toward a billion dollars in revenue by the end of this decade via its high-tech, high-margin businesses.
AHT today is a holding company of several businesses that are leaders in their markets:
- LaMotte Company is a leader in the testing, filtration and sustained purification of pool water. Located on its own 15-acre industrial park near colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the company has been a leader in its market for many years.
- Cannon Instrument Company is a renowned pioneer and trusted leader in the world of precision technologies, instruments, services, and certified reference materials dealing with viscosity, rheology, and other physical properties of materials.
- Performance Distillation Solutions LLC, based in Central Pennsylvania, is a worldwide leader in engineering and manufacturing distillation packing material.
Each business and its CEO and team has been given a mandate by AHT CEO Craig Kingery and the AHT Board to launch strategic growth missions that will take the AHT businesses and their product offerings and customer solutions far beyond where they are today—into expanded product lines and categories, improved innovation and digital capabilities and global markets. To be sure, these businesses are growing profitably today; enjoy trusted reputations as leaders in their markets and all three are supercharged with new leadership that have scaled businesses successfully in the past.
AHT traces its beginnings to the turn of the last century when most laboratory products were sourced from Europe; American industrial innovation and manufacturing prowess were only just stepping onto the world stage. Today’s AHT holds exceptional businesses with unique products renowned for their scientific precision and the critical applications these devices and solutions fulfill for their customers.
AHT was forged in Philadelphia by a trusted friendship of two local business leaders named Thomas and Patterson, and their partnership—Arthur H. Thomas Co.—was officially witnessed prominent business leaders of the day named Lentz and Drescher and Bausch—all related in one way or another to the great Bausch & Lomb Company. Ever since, AHT has kept its headquarters in or near Philadelphia, at one time on property once owned by Betsy Ross’s father. Today the company is based in affluent Chadds Ford, about 25 miles outside Philadelphia.
AHT sold a controlling chunk of its former main business Thomas Scientific to Carlyle Group a few years ago. The two holders now share ownership of Thomas Scientific with Carlyle holding most of the equity and AHT a minority stake. The businesses that remain are intensely focused on innovation, new product development and growth, including building powerful global ecosystems around their businesses’ products and customers.
In 1892, Arthur H. Thomas joined the microscope department of the James W. Queen Company, a leading supplier of optical and scientific equipment in the 1800’s that spawned a lot of ambitious entrepreneurs. Arthur Thomas met J. Edward Patterson at the company when Patterson joined in 1890. By then James Queen had retired, and the business he founded had begun to decline with his death. Soon the smart, ambitious professionals on the Queen team headed for the exits to pursue their own dreams either with other established businesses or ones they planned to start. Their firms had names such as Williams, Brown & Earle; Leeds & Northrup and Precision Thermometer & Instrument Co. Arthur Thomas left in 1899 to start his own company, while Patterson joined Charles Lentz & Sons, agents for the burgeoning Bausch & Lomb Optical Company.
Though they went to separate businesses, Thomas and Patterson would keep in close contact and occasionally partner on projects—collaboration that led to a landmark meeting on December 7, 1900 at the beautiful, recently opened Hotel Walton in Philadelphia. Thomas and Patterson were joined in a private room by William and Charles Lentz, representing Bausch & Lomb distributors Charles Lentz & Sons, as well as William Drescher and Henry Bausch, a close relative of Bausch & Lomb Company’s founder. Thomas and Patterson hammered out the outlines of a new company in their presence, and their partnership was organized and incorporated as the Arthur H. Thomas Company. William Howell, who had also been at the Queen Company, joined the group as head bookkeeper, and AHT opened for business in Philadelphia’s Freeman building at 12th & Walnut. The first customer was Frank J. Keeley, the naturalist and minerals expert.
Mr. Thomas passed away in 1942 at the age of 70. He worked at his office almost up to that time. Upon his death, under his and Patterson’s original pact, management of Arthur H. Thomas Company passed to the Patterson family. J. Edward Patterson went on to manage the business until his death in 1955 at the age of 82. And Patterson was succeeded by his son Edward B. Patterson.
In the early 1980’s AHT changed its name formally to Thomas Scientific, reflecting its then biggest entity. In 1983 AHT began a series of acquisitions starting with the water purity specialist LaMotte Chemical Company of Chestertown, Maryland, and later AHT acquired Cannon Instruments of State College, Pennsylvania.
The fourth generation of Pattersons continue to be involved in the company, with the company’s current Chairman Rob Patterson. At one time AHT had been in a 7-story headquarters at 3rd & Vine Streets in historic Philadelphia, on property once owned by the father of the iconic flag maker Betsy Ross. AHT has since relocated to more modern offices and is now situated in affluent, suburban Chadds Ford, PA.
AHT is determined to stay true to its resonant beginnings and mission as a company, even as it searches for new and revolutionary technologies and equipment to acquire and provide the highest quality engineered products and solutions to its customers. This has been an AHT hallmark since 1900, and current management is determined to keep this so.