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TAMKO: An Innovative Manufacturer of the Future

Mike Shifferd - TAMKO Director of Six Sigma

Within three months of launching Six Sigma at TAMKO, the program produced its first breakthrough solution – solving a 20-year problem for the company.

And that was just the first time. Doug Spears, TAMKO’s first Director of Six Sigma and current TAMKO Talent Development Manager, illustrates this early success story in a recent podcast hosted by industry influencers RoofersCoffeeShop in celebration of TAMKO’s 20th anniversary of Six Sigma.

Stories like this began pouring in shortly after implementing the Six Sigma program at TAMKO in 2002, which focuses on data-driven methodology for reducing variation and improving quality. The program is an important part of TAMKO’s focus on Continuous Improvement, which formally began in the 1980’s when longtime former president Jay Humphreys adopted Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s Total Quality Management principles.

But TAMKO’s innovation efforts goes deep into its history, long before Six Sigma and even before Deming.

During the podcast, Mike Shifferd, current TAMKO Director of Six Sigma, walks listeners through TAMKO’s history of Continuous Improvement.

“The timeline starts with some of the philosophy and values that the owners had when they first launched the company – A focus on the future, improving the company and this idea of continuous improvement,” said Mike.

With that early foundation built in 1944, the TAMKO founders established a key perspective that would sustain the business for many years to come: A focus on the long-term.

Innovator at TAMKO

Focusing on the long-term begins and ends with people. Because TAMKO employees have long viewed innovation as an opportunity, continuous improvement at the company was a motivating factor for employees and, as a result, employees have been the driving force behind the success of Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement and innovation at TAMKO.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Six Sigma and highlight the people behind the products (and processes) at TAMKO, a new series, Innovator at TAMKO, will feature TAMKO employees working in roles based in science, technology, innovation or Continuous Improvement – part of TAMKO’s journey of an innovative manufacturer of the future.

The Future

Deming’s foundational idea of “A Constancy of Purpose” directly relates to TAMKO’s long-term goals for innovation.

“It was for continuous improvement for the long-term,” said Doug, expanding on Deming’s philosophy during the podcast. “As TAMKO, we’re ‘in it for the long haul,’ we are a company that’s in it, we’re here to stay. But along that way, like Deming says, we’re going to continue to get better and better and better and as new opportunities, as new methodologies and as new things arrive, we’re taking advantage of those, we’re capitalizing on those and moving forward.”

While early successes validated the importance and value of Six Sigma at TAMKO and built upon its culture of Continuous Improvement at TAMKO, technology has continued to evolve, and using new tools and expanding upon those Continuous Improvement efforts that were cultural to TAMKO led to innovating for the future.

“The Titan XT shingle was a direct result of that effort,” said Wayne Westgaard, TAMKO Director of AI, Analytics and Integration, and one of the first Black Belts at TAMKO, who was also featured in the podcast. “The features that are in the product and [as further explained] in our marketing information were intentionally designed to meet needs of the marketplace. . . The teamwork of the Marketing team, the Innovation team, the Research and Development team, the Six Sigma team. . . all of the those combined together in congruence, caused that shingle to be made.”

With the dedication of several teams and manufacturing efforts across the company, the advanced performance features of the Titan XT® shingle were designed with the roofer in mind to offer a combination of the most in-demand features and performance for both installers and property owners.

The new Titan XT shingle, and more innovative products coming soon to the roofing industry, are the result of TAMKO’s long-term dedication to learning and improving processes and quality, and a testament to many years of motivated employees driving change for the future.

“That’s what makes a difference in a company... when you have that kind of commitment to long term excellence,” said Heidi Ellsworth, President of RoofersCoffeeShop.

Listen to the podcast below and hear from three longtime TAMKO employees with a history of innovation and Six Sigma roles at TAMKO.

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