Volume 12, Issue 6 - July/August 2011

feature

True to its Customers
by Tara Taffera

When consolidations closed a door plant in Fredericksburg, Va., in 2009, a rare opportunity presented itself to Tru Tech Doors. The Canadian company was looking to expand into the United States and this shuttered plant provided the ideal venue. The company already had workers, machines and a great location. Two years after buying that plant, Tru Tech president John Careri tells DWM/Shelter magazine how that move transformed the company and has it poised for additional growth.

"A wise man once told me when the recession comes, don’t waste it."
—John Careri

DWM/Shelter: It has been nearly two years since you bought the Fredericksburg facility. Can you talk a little about the growth that has occurred there? Were you able to hire back all the former plant employees?
Careri: We are definitely very pleased with facility. We feel like we got more than we asked for because not only did we get a great facility but it opened up the opportunity to extend our products. Most recently we put another production line in the plant. We manufacture all of our fiberglass doors from Fredericksburg. It’s been exciting to watch that growth and expansion of our offerings.

We continue to hire staff as the company continues to expand. Our “All from One” strategy continues to grow. We continue to add more products, new manufacturing equipment and new processes. These opportunities weren’t available prior to our purchase of the Fredericksburg plant.

DWM/Shelter: The Virginia plant marked your expansion into the United States. How has that expansion fared? Is it in line with what you had projected?
Careri: It’s challenging to make those kinds of pronouncements in this type of environment. It has been good to step in at this point, as it has allowed us to ramp up. A wise man once told me when there is a recession you shouldn’t waste it. It is easy to get down and out when you are dealing with touchy economic times but expanding truly made us a different company.

We expanded our category and our distribution, and we had incredibly talented individuals who were available to join the team. Unfortunately, some of them lost their jobs at other industry companies due to difficult times. I can’t say enough about the opportunity that was presented to us because we were able to step outside the box and see what was available.

DWM/Shelter:
Are there future expansion plans in the works?
Careri: We are always looking to expand. We are just at the beginning of where we want to be as a company. We are looking to go across North America, so our next target is out West. We are keeping our eyes open but we don’t know if we will be as fortunate as were in Fredericksburg.
We are looking at plants that closed as well as equipment available at these locations. We did purchase some equipment that has served our needs. We ship across the nation, but it would just make sense to have another plant out there.

DWM/Shelter: What challenges did you encounter through your expansion in the United States that perhaps you didn’t anticipate?
Careri: I can’t say there were difficult challenges. But there were some choices to be made by senior management in terms of how far to expand and in how strong we wanted our salesforce to be. It was more a whole new selection process which included building a sales team. Again, the opportunities just opened up. We rehired the former sales manager who worked in the Fredericksburg facility. His previous workforce enjoys working with him and he has been able to put a great team of individuals together. It was more a series of choices on how we wanted to go to market.

DWM/Shelter: You market your company as a one-stop shop for doors, where a customer can get a variety of door styles from you. How has that strategy paid off? Are you getting new business?
Careri: We went to market with the “All from One” strategy. The biggest challenge for door manufacturers is that people want to purCareri: We went to market with the “All from One” strategy. The biggest challenge for door manufacturers is that people want to purchase multiple products from one vendor. There was always a specific vendor companies sought out for steel, fiberglass, glass, steel frame, etc. We want to be more than just a door vendor. “All from One” is more than just a door style. It’s door products that are all designed around each other. The challenges for door companies is purchasing products that work together and that’s the goal we have been pursuing.

We continue to increase our customer base and increase volumes from existing customers. It’s hard to analyze because it is new growth. Once the program has been in the market for two to three years it will be easier to talk about growth but every month we continue to see it. We are competing in a major playground and we’ve had to introduce ourselves to customers. Those introductions have gone extremely well. A lot of people want to give us a try. And on top of that we continue to grow with our existing customers. We are seeing a willingness for companies to try a new approach to doors. We are being welcomed.

DWM/Shelter: What is the one major difference between Tru Tech and other door manufacturers?
Careri: It is easy to say products, but it is more than products. It is an inspired team of individuals who are inspired to produce every day and innovate every day. We are door people, and we are all about doors. That has been the biggest push here. We need to let North America know we are door people and that the people employed here have known doors for a long time.

DWM/Shelter: What do current customers (and perhaps new ones) tell you is the difference?
Careri: I think they like our customer first attitude—that we want to help our customers whether it is through marketing or other efforts. They like the new fresh approach to doors. That’s why we went to market two years ago as the “new name in doors.” We are coming up with new ideas and new products. We have a comprehensive door program that competes with the major manufacturers and we are just getting started. We have products on our drawing board daily. They know we have a passion for what we do and they know that there will always be something new coming out of Tru Tech.

DWM/Shelter: How has buying in the door industry changed?
Careri: The consumers want beauty and selection—they want customization. That is where we came from—the boutique approach. We also specialize in customer demands. The consumer now wants what they want as they have the ability to search online and look at different products. That’s what we specialize in and that is what made us different. We don’t say no to anything. We want to give them tailored products.

DWM/Shelter: Do you expect the recent tornadoes to affect the door industry? Do you think codes will change, and door companies will have to introduce products increasingly to meet impact-resistant standards? (For related article, see page 26).
Careri: You will see this happen more and more; the guidelines will be strict. The consumer will look for products under strict standards. Most definitely there will be an increase in door codes and improving products. Most definitely we will be looking at this. We manufacture fiberglass products and we are looking to move to an even stronger construction for these very reasons.

Tara Taffera is the editor/publisher of DWM/Shelter magazine.


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