At a time when Home Depots and Lowe’s are popping up across North America, often within miles of one another, it makes sense that many manufacturers strive to get products into these stores to infiltrate the mass-market business and drive sales. TVM Building Products, however, has a different approach. TVM focuses on the contractor marketplace instead of the mass-market business.
Within the reflective insulation industry, TVM considers itself the second-largest player in North America, and it has been in the forefront of reflective insulation technology. Most of its products are aimed towards this very specialized segment – reflective insulation technology – which is the fastest growing segment of the market by percentage, explains Mike Boulding, President of TVM.
TVM develops, markets, and distributes a wide range of products including: extended foams; insulations such as radiant barriers, reflective insulation, reflective tape, and concrete under-pads; and a variety of sealants. These products lead to energy conservation, which is more important to the environment than ever.
A DECADE OF GROWTH
Starting as a marketing company in Toronto, Canada in 1997, TVM became involved in the reflective insulation business within the first year of its existence. “At that time we were doing the marketing for a couple of other companies,” says Boulding. “As that portion of our business grew, we decided we would focus on the construction market and specialty building products that make up that portion of the business.”
In 1999, TVM purchased a company in the United States, opened a 46,000-square-foot corporate office in Johnstown, Pa.and developed its business in the United States.
Over time, TVM opened a second warehouse in Kansas City, Kan. (22,000 square feet) and another in Indiana, which has since been consolidated with the Kansas facility. TVM’s head office still remains in Toronto. “We found we were able to handle all the United States business in Johnstown and Kansas City,” says Boulding. “TVM’s customer service operations are consolidated in Johnstown. With the consolidation of ourwarehouses we are working with consultants to make the logistics within our buildings more efficient.”
TVM’s product growth was customer driven, and its goal was to provide its customers with products they would be able to use. “We focused on four different markets,” says Boulding, “metal and commercial buildings, HVAC, and residential, which is separated into two areas – one and two step distribution.” Although addressing the RV and construction supply markets, this was not TVM’s focus. TVM “has incorporated a basket of products that we take to each of those markets,” says Boulding. “And those products fit with energy conservation as it relates to the building envelope.”
Today, TVM sells its products across the United States and Canada, and exports products to 26 other countries. However, 85 percent of its business is in the United States. TVM’s growth is mainly from within, and is open to growth via acquisition. TVM looks forward to a growing future in developing innovative products to service the market’s/customers’ needs.
BUILDING SOLUTIONS THROUGH INNOVATION
How does TVM achieve phenomenal success in a contractor marketplace? By focusing on innovation in that marketplace. “A lot of our competitors make insulation and try to sell it to whatever market they can sell to,” says Boulding. “We build ranges of products that are market focused and used within those markets. I’m not aware of anybody that caries the range of products we carry.”
TVM prides itself on innovation. In fact, the tag line for the business is “building solutions through innovation.” TVM constantly looks at and develops new products as the market demands. “Innovation is the core of our business,” says Boulding. “And we consider ourselves more innovative than the other players. We are most aggressive in bringing out new products, and new innovations happen all the time.” That sounds a lot easier than it is, however, Boulding is quick to explain that TVM takes “other proponents and core manufacturing products and combines them to make new and improved products that better suit the marketplace. TVM strives to make products that are more efficient and easier to use for the contractors.”
TVM has patented some items and was one of the first companies to sell a reflective house wrap. It also developed insulation products for under concrete. TVM’s newest product launch, Bull Seal, is a combination of an adhesive sealant and caulk all-in-one. And it has had tremendous success in the marketplace already. “That is actually a technology that is very new to North America,” says Boulding.
Bull Seal can be used easily by homeowners or contractors. It is paintable, stainable, and works underwater. “It can be used for almost any job,” he adds. “You can stick an electrical box to a concrete wall, a pipe to a wall, or a handle on ceramic tile. Bull Seal can even be used to retile swimming pools without having to drain the water. We are very excited about it because of its range of use and also because it is new to us and to North America.”
BRINGING INNOVATION TO MARKET
“One of the things we do very well is to support our products through an incredible marketing program,” says Boulding. TVM has a full marketing department on staff, including graphic designers, who focus solely on developing literature and sales tools to brand TVM and its products and to ensure success in the market.
TVM’s technical support service team, accessible via e-mail or telephone, responds to between 50 and 100 inquiries a day about its products and their applications. In addition, TVM’s Web site offers downloadable product files.
Customer service support assures 99 percent fill rate on all orders with a quick and efficient turn-around time. All inventoried products ordered before 2 p.m. will ship the next day. For customers who wish to pick up their products in person, TVM has many distribution centers strategically located for easy accessibility. And TVM’s sales support team works with local distributors to provide sales tools, support and training.
TRENDS AND GROWTH
Although there are two opposing trends occurring at the moment in the market, growth is not a concern for TVM. The housing market is in a downturn and that affects TVM’s business. But at the same time, people are really concerned about energy conservation and green products. “People are thinking all the time about how they can be more energy efficient, even if they are not moving into new houses,” says Boulding. “There are a lot of under-insulated homes out there, and our products are really easy to use for retrofit. One of the items we are focusing on now is the attic barrier. But homeowners often don’t want to be the ones to install things in their attics. So, we started a program utilizing the insulation supply guys to retrofit the attics – guys who already are used to working inside the attics.”
STAMP OF APPROVAL
In order to recognize and distinguish products that are energy conscience and to help consumers make the right choice when choosing products, TVM launched a Building Sealing and Energy Conservation logo. This logo is on all of TVM’s products, not only to help consumers make good choices, but to recognize TVM’s role in producing and distributing products that increase energy conservation. But putting a stamp of approval on products is not a guarantee of success. It is TVM’s energy conservation products, innovation, and successful marketing that spell out success for TVM and propel it to the top of the reflective insulation industry market.