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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Photo courtesy: Crescent Electric
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

CRESCENT ELECTRIC SUPPLY COMPANY. Crescent Electric Supply Company was founded on April 15, 1919, by Titus B. SCHMID, an electrical contractor in Dubuque, Iowa, who was not satisfied with waiting for materials and supplies. Schmid chose to start his own electrical supply company that would carry the full inventory needed by fellow contractors and the general community.

In 1924 Crescent Electric was already an established supplier in this region with distribution centers in Dubuque, Davenport, and Madison, Wisconsin. Credibility grew in 1925 when it obtained a deal to distribute General Electric products.

Titus' four sons, Tom, John, Jim and Bill each provided leadership to the company. They diversified the business with the construction and operation of CRESLANES, a bowling alley.

To ensure the life of the company, the Schmid family instituted a succession plan. Further, in 1991 an outside board of directors was formed in an advisory capacity. This board assumed full oversight of Crescent in 2001. The Schmid family during this time formed a Schmid Family Council designed to be a "board of directors" for the descendants of Titus Schmid. The board's responsibility was to focus on the business of the family allowing the company board to focus on the company. The Schmid board is also the family representative on the company board of directors with three members.

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Other manufacturers' lines of supplies and apparatus have been added over the years. Among the prominent companies represented by Crescent Electric have been Advance Transformer, American Electric, Certainteed, Cooper Lighting, Eaton, Hubbell, Ideal Industries, Leviton, 3M Company, Marley, Royal Electric, Square D Company, Thomas and Betts, Thomas Industries, Universal Ballast and Wheatland Tube Company.

The growth of the company has been measured by the steady growth of branches from one in 1919, two in 1923, five by 1930, twenty-five by 1970, ninety-three in 1991, and 120 in 2015. The Crescent Electric distribution network extends over Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The business, first located at 785 Iowa Street, was soon moved to 765 and then 779 Iowa Street and in 1953 to 215 Main Street. In 1969 the company moved its corporate offices to Dunleith Drive in East Dubuque. Thomas B. Schmid served as president, William T. Schmid served as vice-president, James A. served as vice-president and treasurer, and John was vice-president and manager of the Davenport, Iowa branch. (1)

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
The company sells a full range of electrical supplies to contractors and industrial customers including utilities, Deere and Company, and Caterpillar. Crescent Electric has established itself in the Factory Automation Products market through its advanced High Tech Systems and Solutions. In 1991 the president of Crescent Electric was James A. SCHMID.

The company supported a variety of local causes. The $1.3 million endowment for the Crescent Community Health Center at 1789 Washington Street established a medical home to as many as 22,190 uninsured and underinsured tri-state residents. The company was also an early participant in the Sustainable Dubuque Initiative.

In 2017 the company announced that it had purchased Danville, Virginia-based Womack Electric Supply. Womack employed 150 people and achieved sales of $100 million in 2016. According to company officials, the acquisition would not result in a gain or loss of jobs in the corporate headquarters in East Dubuque, Illinois or the operations in Dubuque. (2)

It was the Extended Schmid Family of Crescent Electric and Supply Company that made possible the forming of the CRESCENT COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER.



1. "New Offices," Telegraph-Herald, December 21, 1969, p. 21

2. "Crescent Electric Acquires Virginia Business," Telegraph Herald, August 4, p. 5A

Families in Business. (magazine). Telegraph Herald, July 30, 2010, p. 78

"Company History," Crescent Electric Supply Company. Online: http://www.cesco.com/contents/aboutUs/history.jsp