TFT announces grand celebrations for the opening of their new world headquarters
Published on 24 August 2009
Distribution partners and firefighters are invited to join Task Force Tips on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9 am when the doors of the company's new world headquarters will officially open for business.
The building (at 2351 Industrial Drive,Valparaiso, Indiana, 46383-9511) has been years in the planning - as well as over a year of construction. The new headquarters more than doubles the work area for the Midwestern firefighting equipment manufacturer.
"It's long been our dream to have our entire company housed under a single roof," said Rod Carringer, vice president of sales and marketing. "This is the third time in our company's history that we've expanded into a newer, larger facility. Since we've planned enough space to basically double our size from what we are now, we expect to stay here for some time - and, unlike before, we've allowed ourselves a lot of room right here where we can build and grow."
The opening day celebration kicks off at 9 am, with plant tours beginning in the building's new firefighting museum. A hot dog and hamburger luncheon will be served from 11 am to 1 pm. Tours and product demonstrations will continue throughout the afternoon (outside, as well as in the building's new training room). The day will finish off with a pig roast dinner from 5 to 7 pm.
The new facility adds 98,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 20,000 square feet of office space to the existing 50,000 square feet Industrial Drive location. Larson-Danielson Construction Company, Inc, LaPorte, Indiana, brought CEO Stewart McMillan's dream and blueprints to life.
Aside from creating a central spot where customers the world over will be able to congregate, this expansion helped to create some 170 construction related jobs locally, and bolstered Porter County, Indiana's economy with a multi-million dollar investment.
Few who drive up to the building's entrance will even think about it housing the world's most innovative manufacturer of firefighting equipment. Rather, TFT's two-story, red-bricked firehouse facade - complete with twin bright red fire station doors and hand cut regional white limestone - will more likely remind visitors of the fire stations of childhood memories and dreams.
Guests coming through the front doors enter immediately into a world of memorabilia and treasures - TFT's very own firefighting museum. This two story showplace traces the company from its very beginnings in the fall of 1971 (in the basement of the McMillan home on Michigan Avenue in Hobart, Indiana).
On one wall, guests will see the single cocktail napkin (measuring 4 by 4 inches) upon which the late Clyde McMillan sketched out plans for the world's first automatic nozzle. The revolutionary design, sketched with red felt tipped pen in 1968, has since become an industry standard. This unique idea allowed the nozzle to automatically open or close while maintaining the same pressure, much like a person putting his or her thumb on the end of a garden hose to regulate and produce a steady stream.
"What you'll see when you walk in probably depends on what day you've come, and what friends have sent us for display," explained Carringer. "I know that (TFT CEO) Stewart (McMillan) drove 8 hours to borrow a 1890s steamer from a group of volunteers in Clintonville, Wisconsin. That, itself, is an amazing bit of firefighting history."
The receptionist's desk, located opposite the entrance, is the actual front end of a fire truck, complete with lights and siren ("and the siren, unfortunately, works exceptionally well," Carringer explained.) The giant red fire boots, mint condition firefighter's pinball game, regulation fire pole (from Gary, Indiana), and meticulously restored vintage Valparaiso fire truck are other crowd-pleasing parts of the ever changing museum.
To date, TFT has received 37 patents and has 2 pending. Its first computerized machinery, installed in 1980, opened the door to an operation that embraces technology and empowers workers to more efficiently produce a better product.
TFT's new location will also allow a central base for TFT University - an ongoing program that enhances participant's job skills through product and operational awareness activities and discussions. The program's incredible growth both on campus and on the road are the result of hands-on demonstrations, coupled with hand-tailored targeted workshops.
TFT University's activities are not limited to the U.S./Canadian borders, though. As TFT's market expands, so does the university's outreach. Two groups of Latin American business partners are scheduled to visit TFT's world headquarters for university sessions this fall, and similar plans are being made for Asian business parntners as well.
"Visitors should never be surprised about who they run into at TFT," Carringer explained. "We have the opportunity of working with some amazing people. This open house will hopefully give them a chance to get to know a little about each other."
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