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TITANS OF INDUSTRY


but it was difficult,” says Theisen. And that renewed growth is not likely to slow down either. “It never ceases to amaze me. If you go back 30 years, we thought we had pretty much all the business we were going to get in places where we were the predominant force,” says Theisen. “But since then, we’ve increased by a factor of three or four to one. So, to be honest, I have no idea what the future brings. We keep finding more opportunities. We have a good product and we’ve always been extremely focused on quality.” With ever increasing


opportunities for the company in developing countries, sales growth remains positive. “I wouldn’t say it’s a rocket ship, but it’s good”, says Theisen. “I use the American football analogy that our business is like ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’, as opposed to being about ‘playing the long ball’. For us, we tee the ball up and then we move it a little bit. Then we tee it up and we move it again and again. The more our customers grow the more we learn and get involved in different areas.”


Orient express


Earlier this year, T&S Brass bolstered its manufacturing capabilities in China by opening a new 80,000 sq ft production and distribution facility in Zhuqiao Town, Pudong New District, Shanghai. The facility operates, not only as a manufacturing location, but also as the company’s sales headquarters and customer service centre for China. “I compare China to a cross between the US in 1900 and 1948 where you had this huge group of people becoming prosperous. In China an averaged sized city is as big as Chicago,” says Claude Theisen.


“For us, we tee the ball up and then we move it a little bit. The more our customers grow the more we learn and get involved in different areas”


The innovation game


T&S Brass has always excelled at keeping a keen eye on innovation. It led them to buy pioneering food waste disposal system company EnviroPure in 2013. EnviroPure was the recipient of FCSI Asia Pacific Division’s Innovations Award in 2014.


“EnviroPure came about as we got larger and decided to start looking to acquire companies,” says Theisen. “It seemed a logical next step in the growth process: if we could learn how to buy and manage companies, we could get bigger, faster. EnviroPure is breaking into new territory, much like when we broke into the development of the pre-rinse community. It’s brand new, it’s evolutionary and it certainly caught our eye.”


In his own words:


Claude Theisen’s key business lessons


“You’ve got to keep tabs on your numbers and make decisions about each part of the operation. Doing that and keeping your sense of humour can be difficult. “Never get too comfortable and don’t


get too cocky. When things are going well, you get more nervous that there must be something you don’t know about. “I learned a great deal when we were


going broke. You find out what you have to do to survive. I learned the factory side of the business in depth and that helped in terms of understanding the limitations of what we’re asking from the sales force or the factory. “It can be easy to get a little piggy,


as far as the family’s concerned: taking too much out of it, not being careful. The consequences of failure are severe, which we learned the hard way. “Hire good people, give them a broad base of knowledge and let them do it. The hardest part probably is getting out of somebody’s way. If you get a good crew working for you they can accomplish a lot.”


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