OMDC SUCCESS STORY: THOMPSON BOOKS
Founded in 1989 by Keith and Faye Thompson in their basement, Thompson Educational Publishing (TEP) is a thriving family business run today by their sons, Rowan and Peter. Since its foundation, TEP has published over 170 titles, many in multiple editions.
At first, TEP was a small, high-level college publisher, focused on upper-year social science courses. In the early 2000s, however the company decided to expand into the kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) market. A new health and physical education curriculum was being developed, and at the time there was no core textbook for health and physical education (phys ed) at the high school level. In 2003, TEP published Exercise Science for a Grade 12 course of the same name. While still publishing for post-secondary courses, the company has largely focused on the K-12 market ever since. They remain one of the only Canadian publishing companies focused on the health and phys ed market.
TEP’s business model would not be where it is today without the ongoing support from the OMDC’s Book Fund program. The program has assisted TEP in carrying out innovative customer engagement and marketing initiatives - many of which would simply not be possible without support. These activities continue to strengthen the company's position as a trusted leader in the market, paving the way for future growth in an evolving industry.
Being a small, family-run business in a competitive industry is difficult. Some of the biggest challenges TEP faces are budgets—not just their own, but those of the school board clients they service, who must cope with ever-diminishing resources. The company’s client focus has been key to TEP’s success. TEP has always provided customer service and support for teachers and the educational system as a whole, long after purchases have been made. The company dedicates significant resources to supporting teachers and school boards in implementing their resources, and has built this into a successful business model. Their commitment to their customers keeps them coming back and ensures the business model remains viable.
The company has seen a number of changes in the last several years. When the Thompson brothers took the helm, they knew that one of their main tasks would be to embrace with the industry-wide transition toward digital books. With help from OMDC’s Book Fund, Digital Enhancement Program, TEP has been able to develop the infrastructure to produce and distribute digital books to customers across Ontario and Canada, and partner with school boards to build a system that works for them. It is something that would not have been possible without support..
A main priority for TEP is to ensure that standards for learning materials do not drop due to the shift to the new medium. That’s a commitment they’ve made both to educators and to students. So far, customer feedback on the digital tools which have been developed for course support has been excellent, and the Thompsons are optimistic about the future. This family business has a bright future still ahead.
“We really see the benefits of digital in what it can bring students, teachers, and the education system as a whole. We’ve been out there talking to our customers, feeling their struggles and developing solutions to help more teachers and students succeed. When they’re ready to make the transition, we’ll be right there with them.”
—Rowan Thompson, Owner and Business Director, Thompson Educational Publishing