Hawthorne Cat co-founder James Thomas “Tom” Hawthorne passed away on March 10, 2022, at the age of 93.
In 1956, Tom and his father, J.B. Hawthorne, founded Hawthorne Machinery, the exclusive Cat dealer for San Diego, Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific region. He led the company as CEO for 50 years.
“Tom was always looking for new business opportunities and ways to grow and improve the company. He believed that helping a customer succeed in growing his own business should be Goal #1,” says the company in the announcement of his passing.
“Tom was recognized as an icon in the construction markets and a pioneer in the short-term equipment rental business (Hawthorne Rentals). He was also one of the first Cat dealers to establish a separate and dedicated power systems business unit (Hawthorne Power Systems). His 50-year career as a Caterpillar tractor dealer in San Diego, Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Islands has been stellar.”
Tom gave back generously to the community, establishing the Tom Hawthorne Diesel Technology Center at Miramar College, which grants scholarships to students earning their degree in diesel technology, and the Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center sponsored by Interfaith Community Services, designed to help homeless veterans stabilize their lives. Donations can be made to Interfaith Community Services, Outreach International or Elizabeth Hospice in his honor.
In his retirement, Tom started a new company, Tool Shed Equipment Rental & Sales, with his brothers Paul, Jack and Gary Hawthorne.
Hawthorne Cat today is led by Tom’s son-in-law Tee Ness as chairman and grandson Dave Ness, president and CEO.