By Reggie Ellis

Mark Thompson was only 15 years old when he helped his father Merle set up a display for his business, Strathmore Machinery, Inc., at the first Tulare Field and Row Crop Equipment Show in 1968.

&#8220I remember working in a lot of mud in the midway of the Tulare County Fairgrounds,” said Thompson, whose company manufactures tillage equipment in a shop in Strathmore.

Forty years later, Thompson is now in charge of setting up the displays at the show, now called the World Ag Expo. The Thompson family business is one of 29 exhibitors that were honored at this year's WAE for participating in all 40 years of the farm show.

Thompson's grandfather, Ernest, bought half-ownership in Strathmore Machine Works in 1936. He eventually bought out his partner a few years later and renamed the company Strathmore Machinery, a blacksmith operation. Thompson said the company has operated continuously since 1936 by his family, except from 1942-1946 when there was a steel shortage during World War II.

The Tulare Field and Row Crop Equipment Show quickly outgrew its name, and became the &#8220California Farm Equipment Show” for the second show in 1969. In 1972, the first foreign manufacturers began moving in to display their products, leading to the name change &#8220California Farm Equipment Show and International Exposition”

The 15th California Farm Equipment Show and International Exposition opened its doors on the new showgrounds, Feb. 9, 1982. This new location provided Tulare with the first facility in the Western United States ever constructed to house an agricultural trade show and other farmrelated events. Finally, the current name, &#8220World Ag Expo,” was adopted in 2001. Throughout the years, exhibitors found the now World Ag Expo, a show devoted to the task of bringing seller and buyer together, a sound investment in the future of their business.

&#8220It's changed a lot,” said Thompson, whose company display has remained at the same location since the showgrounds were reorganized 10 years ago. &#8220And the amount of business we do changes every year. I've always said, ‘as long as the farmer is making money we will get our part of it. And when they don't, none of us do.'”

Strathmore Machinery manufactures tilling discs from 4.5 feet up to 9 feet in diameter. Thompson said his company prides itself on a 24-hour turnaround on orders for parts, quality customer service and reliable equipment.

&#8220Our discs are high in reliability and simplicity,” Thompson said. &#8220Most will last longer than your tractor. We have one disc in the shop right now that was originally built in the 1960s and I know for a fact a few clients are using our stuff made in the early ‘50s. We rely on that reputation to be our advertiser.”

Thompson said Strathmore Machinery, Inc. continue to attend the farm show because it offers good exposure to the business since 90% of their clients are farming in the San Joaquin Valley.

&#8220I got into this business to continue the family tradition,” Thompson said. &#8220The farm show is part of that tradition.”

For more information on Strathmore Machinery, Inc. call 568-1914.

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