Thompson Monuments has been in the business of helping people celebrate the lives and honor the memories of departed loved ones for more than two decades. From its headquarters at 1702 Superior St. in Webster City and through a comprehensive website - www.thompsonmonuments.com - it serves clients not only throughout Iowa but all across the United States.
On Feb. 3, the company opened a showroom in downtown Fort Dodge at 20 N. 12th St. Founded by Denis Thompson, of Webster City, in 1992 and still owned by him, Thompson Monuments is a family-owned and operated company that has long had Webster County clients. The Fort Dodge location, however, is its first storefront presence outside of Webster City.
Thompson's son-in-law, Nathan Ribbey, is staffing the new Fort Dodge venue. He said the robust economic prospects of Webster County made having a local outlet an attractive part of the company's strategy for its own further growth.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Nathan Ribbey, who is managing the Thompson Monuments Fort Dodge showroom, shows off a sample of the company’s ability to put a photograph on a memorial marker.
Thompson Monuments sells burial markers, gravestones, cremation urns and a comprehensive assortment of cemetery accessories. It specializes in helping clients find just the right product and achieving whatever personalization they require.
"We purchase the monuments from suppliers," Ribbey said. "We do all the design work and submit the file. We do the installation. We do have a laser machine that etches granite at our Webster City location. So, small memorials we can laser etch, but sandblasting we have done by our suppliers."
He said the company has access to a wide array of vendors, which can be very beneficial for its clients.
"We are not locked in to one granite supplier," he said. "We try to shop some of the top suppliers in the industry and try to find the best value for the customer. We try to keep the overhead low and pass that on to the customer."
Ribbey also said the company's highly specialized focus means its staff has the experience and expertise to provide whatever advice a patron may require.
"Monuments are all we do," he said. "We know what looks good."
Ribbey said for him and the others on the Thompson Monuments team, being of service to people during a difficult and sometimes emotional time is a top priority.
"For me personally, I want the customer to feel I'm assisting them in preserving the name and memory of their loved one," he said. "I guess that's what draws me to the industry. I have a teaching background in Arizona and overseas. I have a desire to help people and this industry is a good fit for that. ... They are coming to me in a time of grief and need."
Ribbey said knowing how to work with clients effectively and supportively are vital to success in this industry.
"We want to be a blessing to people and establish a good reputation," Ribbey said.
He said he tries hard to find options for customers that are both satisfying and affordable.
"We try to work with what your finances will allow," Ribbey said. "I try to operate on the philosophy 'where there's a will, there's a way.' People want to honor their loved ones and we are here to work with them to get a fitting memorial."
He said various financing arrangements are available.
Assisting with the selection and design of monuments and markers are not the only services Thompson Monuments provides. The company also coordinates with cemeteries and installs the products selected.
"Once we know what cemetery the monument needs to be installed in, we contact them to make sure we are meeting their rules and regulations," Ribbey said. "We don't want to sell you something that is going to be rejected. We do all the legwork to ascertain what parameters we have to work within to avoid problems."
Ribbey said both the monuments and the installation are guaranteed, so clients are protected if any problems should arise.
Thompson Monuments is open in Fort Dodge from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Ribbey said he is available at other times by appointment and is more than willing to consult with potential customers in their homes if that works better for them.
Meet Nathan Ribbey
Ribbey graduated from Webster City High School in 1997 and subsequently earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Buena Vista University.
"I taught four years on the Navajo Indian reservation and two years at an international school in Indonesia," he said.
He is married to Hope Thompson Ribbey. They have four young children, aged 3, 5, 7 and 9. The three older children attend Fort Dodge's Community Christian School.
"I married into the family," Ribbey said. "I wear all sorts of hats. I do sales and design, installation."