Started in 1962 as a mom-and-pop plastic distributor, TSE Industries now is an industry leader with more than 200 employees. “Our guiding principle remains the same: We treat our customers and employees as we want to be treated,” President Robert R. Klingel said.
Today, TSE Industries focuses on areas so important to the company that it earned its name from them – technology, service and experience. It offers expertise in four areas: specialty chemical and polyurethane technologies; rubber molding; plastic machining; and polymer sheet molding. The firm makes these products and offers services in three ISO 9001-certified facilities in Clearwater, Fla., that span 250,000 square feet.
TSE is the world’s largest manufacturer of millable urethane rubber, which it sells under the Millathane trade name. The product, which TSE has manufactured since 1976, is useful to rubber molders or fabricators to make abrasion- and oil-resistant parts without employing techniques or equipment required for cast or thermoplastic polyurethanes, it says. Millathane is useful in applications, including rollers and belting, medical, electronics, military, aeronautical, footwear and industrial tires.
Constantly innovating with unique products such as Millathane is just one example of TSE’s commitment to working with customers and serving niche uses. In an interview with Manufacturing Today, TSE Executive Vice President Rick Klingel spoke about the company and what it’s doing to better serve its customers.
Manufacturing Today: What innovations has the company spearheaded?
Rick Klingel: Most recently, we have developed an environmentally friendly polyurethane resin and process to replace styrene ester. We spent five years in development, and we are currently entering the tub and spa market as resin suppliers.
MT: What distinguishes the company’s work from that of competitors?
RK: We are solution providers. Clients come looking for technical expertise to solve issues or provide superior products. TSE has a highly technical staff with more than 100 years of combined experience in our areas of expertise.
MT: What is the company’s position within the industry?
RK: I would say we are relatively small and stay under the radar. We like to stick with niche business that the larger companies tend to pass up.
MT: How is the market changing and how is the company adapting?
RK: Customers are always looking for better, faster, cheaper, and in a down economy like 2009, you want to do everything in your power to do these things. TSE strongly adapted the lean Six Sigma mentality and training. TSE has four black belts, six green belts, and all of our floor associates are lean practitioners. Six Sigma has really given us the opportunities over the past few years to significantly improve our efficiencies.
MT: What challenges do you encounter? How do you meet them?
RK: There are different challenges every day, and we take them one by one. Challenges are usually learning experiences, and we learn from each of them.
MT: Do you hold any accreditations?
RK: TSE has been ISO 9001-2008 since 1997. Just recently, TSE was awarded with the 2009 Zero Defect Award, and Supplier – Partner award for outstanding performance and customer service support from Rheem Manufacturing Co.
MT: How does the company handle worker training and development?
RK: We do continuous on-site training, everything from hazmat training and standard operating procedures to business law classes.
MT: Does the company have any links with the community in terms of charities or nonprofit organizations?
RK: TSE/Klingel Family Foundation donates $250,000 to $300,000 every year to local organizations like Ronald McDonald House, Hospice, SPCA International, etc.
MT: What is the best advice you’ve ever received about the industry?
RK: My father, Rob, once told me that our company name and image is everything; never do anything to jeopardize it.