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December 2017
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There's no closing the door on TMI's growth

The business’ aging freezer and dock doors are closed, but theoretically are wide open, presenting a revenue loss risk as great as an unstaffed bank with its vault doors open.

Energy, an essential commodity for small businesses, is escaping every minute, going out the door with money many companies can’t afford to lose during these still uncertain economic times. And who knows what creatures and environmental hazards are coming in and bringing unknown threats to the company's product quality, lifespan and integrity.

Was that a bird that just flew in? This sounds like a job for a company that knows environmental control doors.

For 25 years, TMI, LLC has been working to save energy, provide comfortable working environments and save businesses valuable dollars in operating costs. The Pittsburgh-based operation has transformed from a husband-and-wife outfit to a major national player in the PVC industry. As it celebrates its silver anniversary this year and an improbable success story in an age when 90 percent of new business ventures fail in their first year, TMI, LLC has one eye on today and one eye firmly on designing the energy efficient doors of tomorrow.

“When the company started, its focus was on strip doors and later moving on to industrial curtains," TMI president and chief executive officer Frank Mummolo said. "Somewhere along the line we came up with the universal theme that categorizes this company: Managing environments. “We separate hot from cold, clean from dirty, light from dark. That’s what we do here.” Few companies in the energy control door industry control work place environments better than TMI.

TMI's revenues are up 30 percent since 2009 and growing at a compound rate of 13 percent per year as it continues to develop cutting edge environmental control doors. The company of 110 people is now on both coasts in three locations and producing in-demand products such as its screen roll-up doors.

TMI started with strip doors as its bread and butter. Strip doors are an extremely economical solution for fast food companies because of their ability to reduce the amount of heated or cooled air lost through unprotected openings such as back doors and coolers. TMI’s Food Service and Equipment division, Curtron Products, specializes in providing strip doors, rack covers, insect protection and air curtains for the food service and restaurant industries. Other company divisions include Save-T Solutions, (serving the overhead door and material handling industry), Vinyl Solutions (which provides flexible PVC products to the OEM market), FlexBarrier Products (cold storage solutions) and Win Plastics, LLC (producer of flexible and rigid PVC sheet and roll goods).

But TMI gradually moved beyond strip doors with its product development team constantly asking itself, 'How can we produce more cost-effective environment controls for its customers?’

Enter the screen rollup door.  “The screen rollup door had its genesis around 2008," said Mummolo, who joined TMI in 2010 after guiding startup companies and engineering corporate turnarounds at other companies. "It developed as an alternative to flexible traffic doors and high-speed rollup doors. Great products have their own limitations. Strip doors can be cumbersome if you have a lot of walk-through traffic and high-performance doors can be pricey. We tried to fill the void between strip and flexible traffic doors. Can we conceive and construct a cost-effective alternative?” 

The next step of TMI’s mission to produce energy efficient doors is the 6000 series of roll-up doors and screen lines. The 6000 Series, introduced in May, boasts jackshaft motors that moves doors at a speed of 36 inches per second. The product is a major speed upgrade over TMI's previous fastest roll-up door, which reached 24 inches per second. That greatly cuts the exposure time for unwanted insects, birds, dust and other particles to infiltrate a facility.

The trick to upgrading the screen rollup doors' efficiency and cost efficiency for businesses, Mummolo said, "was making the doors modular."  The result is an environment control door that cut door prices for some companies from as much as $15,000 to $3,000 dollars.

“The original door’s coat was PVC. If a driver hit this thing, you’d have to replace the entire door," he said. "By making the door modular, we made it 24 inches in width. If one gets hit, we slide out and replace the panel. We introduced breakaway production.

“We went one step further and we realized we could make this a door for all seasons."

The company's West Coast expansion to Anaheim, Calif., in 2009 produced both massive company and customer growth for all seasons.

“What are the real drivers in our industry? Quality is a given for anyone. If you don’t have quality, you’re not in the game. The real driver in our industry is turnaround time and the total cost of ownership,” Mummolo said. “That’s the No. 1 challenge we face is being an East Coast Company. We had 3-4 times the turnaround of other companies. “Stocking a West Coast distribution company answered those concerns. The other thing is being an intelligent inventory company.”

TMI’s West Coast presence allows it to turn around and delivers its customers the 6000 Series Roll-Up Doors in express time that is the industry's equivalent of pizza delivery service. TMI's Quick Ship Challenge guarantees customers shipment within 24 hours.

"It’s the Domino’s (Pizza) model," Mummolo said. "The thing Domino's did (with its famous "30 Minute Or Less" delivery guarantee) was a classic marketing move, They asked themselves, 'What do our customers hate most about doing business with companies like us?' 'I don't know what time pizza is going to arrive and whether it's going to be hot or cold.' It's on time or it's on us. "That's the Quick Ship Plan."

The 6000 Series, which Mummolo says is selling at a rate of 2,000 per month, is allowing TMI's revenue to grow in all seasons.

"A lot of businesses have seasonality to their revenue streams," Mummolo said. "If you look at our numbers, it's about 25 percent revenue for each quarter."

Twenty-five years after its modest launch, this Mom and Pop Steel City startup is growing at a rate that is the envy of the PVC industry. "Most people know 90 percent of new business ventures fail in the first five years," Mummolo said. "Of that 10 percent that survive, only one percent makes it through their first decade. "We're really proud of that."

TMI's growth, Mummolo says, is all about producing the industry's most valuable products for their customers. “The true value of earnings in an enterprise is not just the bottom line, it's the quality of the earnings,” Mummolo said.

And there’s seemingly no closing the door on TMI, LLC’s growth.

Clete Campbell is a freelance journalist with 16 years of daily newspaper experience.   E-mail editorial@mhwmg.com to contact Clete.

 
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