Thorsen’s Inc. is celebrating 100 years of history this month. Thorsen’s Plumbing received a business license from the City of Turlock in 1911, and it has been owned by the Thorsen family since that time. Thorsen’s is the oldest family owned business in Turlock, and the business grew with the town.
Anders “Andy” Thorsen was born in Norway but immigrated to the United States as a child. He walked from Stockton to Turlock in 1910 to find work. In 1911 he opened his plumbing business in a shed attached to his home on High Street. Thorsen’s business expanded over the years to include heating and other modern services as they became popular. In 1916 he built a shop on Lander Avenue. Indoor plumbing became popular in new Turlock houses in the 1920s, and Thorsen’s continued to expand and move to bigger locations.
Andy Thorsen passed away in 1962, just one year after Thorsen’s was recognized as the longest continuously owned and operated business in Turlock. Two of Thorsen’s sons each owned part of the business until Rodney Thorsen took over in 1965. Air conditioning was popular by that time and the business name was changed to “Thorsen’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning Inc.” The company moved to Walnut Road in 1977, and has been there since that time. Thorsen’s Inc. now holds California State Contractor Licenses for plumbing, sanitation, HVAC, boilers, insulation, fire sprinklers, sheet metal and solar.
Thorsen’s plumbing opened in a time when most houses did not have running water indoors. The business saw the popularization of indoor toilets, air conditioning and central heat. They were around for most of Turlock’s growth from a small farming town to a city of over 70,000 people. Andy Thorsen installed plumbing in the Mercantile building on Broadway and Main Street. Thorsen’s worked on Turlock High School, California State University, Stanislaus, and Pitman High School. The business has installed and repaired fixtures in countless homes in all parts of town.
With all of that history in Turlock, Thorsen’s also tries to give back to the community as often as possible. Thorsen’s has supported 4-H, FFA, church groups, youth sports and other community activities in Turlock. Craig Pitau, co-owner and president of Thorsen’s, said community involvement is important to the company and to its employees.
“We try to support as many organizations as we can,” Pitau said.
Many Thorsen’s employees have been working for the company for several decades. Pitau said 25 percent of employees have been with the company for 30 years or more; 40 percent have been with the company for 15 years or more. Pitau said the employees are really the ones who have kept the company going for 100 years.
“Our culture has always been to take care of our employees and their family members. You want employees to stay with you through good times and bad… They’re not just numbers,” Pitau said.
Thorsen’s Inc. will be celebrating 100 years in business with a party on Nov. 11. Around 400 invitations were sent out to employees, former employees, long time customers and other community members with a strong tie to the company. They will be remembering a century of history and looking forward to the future.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.