About R.M. Thornton | History
Washington's Most Experienced Mechanical Contractor
For more than 75 years R.M. Thornton has worked on national monuments, apartment buildings, military bases, subway stations, stores, hospitals, industrial facilities and power plants. We’ve met every mechanical contracting challenge with hard work, innovative construction and the latest technology.
Still going strong in the 21st century, Thornton is recognized for its exemplary work on some of Washington’s toughest mechanical contracting projects.
The Early Years:
R.M. Thornton Makes Its Mark:
- 1957–59: The company added hospitals to its list of specialties with three major hospital additions at Doctor's, Columbia and Prince George's hospitals.
- New specialties were introduced including sprinkler and pneumatic tube installation.
- The company went international.
- The most distinguished (and visible) Thornton piping job was the Capitol Reflecting Pool. This huge installation is notable not only for its beauty and prominent location, but also because of the size of its water filtration system.
- At the Washington Cathedral, Thornton became one of the few contractors in the world ever to install air conditioning in a giant Gothic Cathedral. Much of the work was done high above the ground, while welding had to be performed in very tight areas.
- IBM became a substantial customer for R.M. Thornton with process piping work projects that extended more than ten years.
Thornton Takes on New Complex Areas of Specialty
R.M. Thornton, Inc. moved into the energy field, beginning power plant work with a plumbing project at Baltimore Gas and Electric's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. Thornton was a favorite contractor of the Potomac Electric Power Company.
- 1976: Thornton designed and constructed their new head-quarters building at 9200 Edgeworth Drive in Capitol Heights, Maryland. The building served Thornton as a research and demonstration facility for new mechanical systems and techniques, including many solar, energy and water conservation features. It became a popular tour for industry people and energy experts, and was named "Building of the Future" by Domestic Engineering magazine.
- Thornton became a favored contractor on the Washington area's new mass transit system, the Metro.
- 1980s: R.M. Thornton evolved into a unique company in the industry, offering full general construction capabilities as well as mechanical, plumbing, sprinkler, painting and electrical specialties, all under one roof. The extraordinary breadth of skills and personnel made Thornton increasingly efficient and cost-effective, particularly for fast -track, retrofit, renovation and tenant remodeling projects.
- 1986: Robert Reaves was promoted to President, while Frank Reaves continued as Chairman of the Board.
- 1989: Thornton moved to their present location at 120 Westhampton Avenue in Capitol Heights.
- 1990: Many clients wanted a simple and economical, yet technically sophisticated Building Automation System. Thornton met the demand and selected Novar Controls Corporation to represent for its design-influenced projects. Novar was founded to have the highest levels of reliability, programmer friendliness, and flexibility in the market.
- 1993 - 2004: Thornton created Natelco Electric from start-up under the current management team. Natelco grew to 350 electricians, becoming one of the largest electrical contractors in Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia. Natelco was sold to its key managers in 2004, while maintaining a close working-partnership with Thornton. www.natelcoelectric.com
Today and Beyond:
- After more than 75 years, R.M. Thornton, Inc. continues to be recognized by the industry and the marketplace for its outstanding performance, quality, and integrity. Proud of the past, Thornton looks forward to a future full of dynamic projects and new challenges.