The month of June saw a very busy trade show schedule for the team at MDM Publishing. The “silly season” of events started with Interschutz in Germany followed immediately with Firex in London and then straight across to Chicago, USA for the NFPA Conference.
Indiana based Task Force Tips made their presence known in Germany and in Chicago with their range of firefighting equipment. Following the NFPA Conference I decided to see for myself how this family orientated business has grown from strength to strength by visiting their offices and factory in Valparaiso near Chicago.
Task Force Tips Inc. was conceived by founder Clyde McMillan in 1968 who was a fire chief with the Gary Task Force Civil Defense Fire Department in Indiana. He came up with the idea of an automatic nozzle and made the first design on a napkin, this was the birth of TFT and manufacturing began in the basement of the family home.
Fast forward to 2015 and Clyde’s son Stewart is at the helm of the company and along with the 300 plus workforce, has been instrumental in making Task Force Tips one of the world’s leading manufacturers of firefighting equipment.
This was my second visit to TFT, the last visit being in 2002 when the company was at its previous premises at Evans Avenue, Valparaiso. The sheer difference in size to Evans Avenue compared to the new facility is truly astonishing and just proves how innovative TFT are as a company.
The first thing you see on entering the TFT facility is the facade of a firehouse which is where the company’s own museum is located. This has been pieced together meticulously and offers visitors the chance to see items of firefighting memorabilia throughout the decades. This is all overseen by TFT’s own curator and is definitely a worthwhile visit.
The facility on the rather aptly named, Innovation Way is considerably larger than the previous plant on Evans Avenue and there are already plans in place to increase and utilise floor space so as to increase output and make TFT more efficient. One of the current projects is a new mezzanine flooring area which when completed, will add hundreds of square feet in the despatch area to make loading and unloading, packing and mailing more efficient. This new area has been fitted with the latest in lighting technology which is controlled by movement so that lights only stay on for a designated period of time when required thus saving energy.
Keeping the workplace clean is a very important part of TFT’’s ethos, every Friday the workforce down tools and spend an hour before the end of their shift to ensure that the factory floor and workstations are in pristine condition. From the initial delivery of raw materials to the final stages of manufacture the process is so incredibly efficient. TFT’s ongoing investment in their workforce, machinery and research and development just proves that they will remain the market leaders for decades to come and firefighters all around the World will feel safe in the knowledge that the equipment they are using has been tried and tested and will get the job done.
The welcome and hospitality shown by the team during my visit was incredible and I would like to thank TFT for making this possible.
For more information, go to www.tft.com