Volume 3 | Issue 2 | Year 2000

Tiro Industries, Inc., a leader in its industry, develops and produces a myriad of health and beauty products for clients whose names are easily recognized. Shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, moisturizers and lip balms, to name only a few, show up in households as the products of such familiar companies as DEP, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Amway, among many others. Since the company was founded in 1969, it has specialized in product development for other firms, both big and small, concentrating on shampoos and conditioners.

From Humble Beginnings
The company has grown primarily through the efforts of its two present owners: Robert O. Vaa, its president, and Wallace R. Hlavac, the executive vice president. Vaa was working with another firm, The Barbers, as its executive vice president, when, in April 1969, he approached the president of the company with the idea of creating a line of hair care products to market in the franchised hair salons the company established across the nation. Joe Francis, president of The Barbers, was not enthusiastic about the idea, but encouraged Vaa to pursue it on his own. During his research, Vaa became acquainted with James King, a chemist, who was willing to formulate shampoos and conditioners for the company. Together with a hair stylist named Tim Hawkins, Vaa and King formed the original Tiro, a small ($600) capitalized company that rented a $65-a-month space that became the after-hours home of the principals.

Four years after its start, Vaa became sole owner of the now-incorporated company, but needed to find operations and technical management for Tiro. Wallace Hlavac first became a part of Tiro Industries, Inc. as a consultant. The mutual and related growth of both the company’s and the consultant’s businesses reached critical mass: The two decided to merge, and the synergy was mind-boggling. Soon the new company increased its capacity, its space and its client base, becoming the giant that it is today.

Broad Capabilities
The company can boast of capabilities that run from the simplest order fill to the most complex production, packaging and marketing service possible. Cosmetic chemists and technicians are on staff to develop the exact product needed by the client. Artists and product specialists provide a comprehensive array of creative technical services, including package design and support material. Distribution experts offer drop-shipping of finished goods for orders ranging from one case to multiple pallets or truck-load quantities.

Sharing equal billing with production, packaging and marketing services are three other aspects of the company’s total capabilities that are of extreme importance to clients: quality assurance, analytical services and regulatory coordination. Quality is at the heart of everything Tiro Industries does.

Working closely with customers and knowing what they expect, the quality assurance people guarantee that they will meet or exceed expectations. The quality and production processes are determined jointly with the client, and the attributes to be inspected, the frequency and levels of inspection and the compliance requirements are carried through from raw materials to the
finished products.

State-of-the-Art Equipment
Tiro Industries uses state-of-the-art analytical equipment in conjunction with
both the quality assurance and regulatory affairs efforts.High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Gas Chromatography (GC), Atomic Absorption (AA) and FT-IR Spectrophotometry capabilities allow quantification of active materials in both the raw and finished states, and ensure the integrity of raw materials and finished goods throughout the infrared production process. In addition, a Thermomax Micro-plate Reader affords accurate product screening for skin and eye irritancy potential through the use of in vitro (non-animal) test methods.

Finally, although the ultimate responsibility for staying in compliance with the latest governmental regulations falls on the shoulders of the clients, Tiro Industries offers assistance in this area through its documentation and database services.

Impressive Manufacturing Scale
The scale of the manufacturing process at Tiro is impressive. From three locations in Minneapolis and a facility in the People’s Republic of China, a total of 825,000 square feet, the company has the capacity to produce over 100 million units, or 30 million kilograms, of product each year. Separate facilities in Minneapolis, measuring 160,000 square feet, are used as auxiliary warehouse space for component storage. Another 72,000 square feet is used exclusively for customer shipment fulfillment.

Manufacturing capabilities range from 200-gallon batch sizes to 15,000-gallon batches, utilizing hot or cold processing for creams, lotions, hair preparations and virtually all types of non-aerosol chemical specialties. The company can store more than 270,000 gallons of raw material or finished product. Shipping is accomplished at multiple locations using 24 indoor loading docks and a rail siding with two loading doors. Tiro Industries also provides in-house silkscreen decorating on plastic containers, labeling, blister packing, shrink sleeving and wrapping.

Tiro’s manufacturing capabilities were enhanced by the purchase of the facility and equipment owned by The Lamaur Corporation, a retail hair-care producer, in Fridley, Minn., late last year. Lamaur will focus on the marketing and sales of its products, while Tiro Industries will do the manufacturing. Most of the Lamaur employees were retained by Tiro, bringing the total work force number in the United States to 650. Incidentally, more than 2,500 people are employed at Tiro’s China facility.

On to the New Millennium
For over a quarter of a century, Tiro Industries, Inc. has developed and supplied innovative cosmetic and chemical specialty products to the international marketplace. Comprehensive manufacturing, packaging and fulfillment services have supported the market requirements of Tiro’s clients during the final years of the 20th century. That tradition con-tinues in the 21st.