Executive VP of sales
TAPCO (Traffic & Parking Control Co., Inc.)
5100 W. Brown Deer Road, Brown Deer, WI 53223
Number of employees: 125
Education: B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Family: Wife, Megan
What was the smartest thing your company did over the past year?
“In May of 2009 we moved into a new 130,000-square-foot facility in Brown Deer, from a 58,000-square-foot facility in Elm Grove. We needed the space.”
What’s new at your company?
“We have a new showroom in our new facility that highlights many of the A to Z traffic, parking and safety products we offer – please stop in and see it! Also, in 2009 TAPCO teamed with UWM and other local companies to develop the Great Lake Transportation Enterprise Institute (GLETI) that guides the creation of transportation research and development partnerships.”
Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company over the next year?
“TAPCO has grown steadily and we will continue to bring in more employees in 2010. As a budding small business we’ve outgrown many of our ERP software systems and we will be upgrading our internal software to accommodate our increased manufacturing, distributing and service demands.”
What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?
“Our business is usually the last in and the first out of recession, since we’re so reliant on public sector contracts and budgeting cycles of federal, state and local customers. With ever tightening budgets of our customers, we always have to stay proactive in finding new business opportunities.”
What’s the hottest trend in your industry right now?
“LED technology has come such a long way in the past 10 years. Many communities are converting their lighting fixtures to LED lights and drastically eliminating their electrical installation, labor and maintenance costs affiliated with many of the older lighting and signal fixtures.”
Do you have a business mantra?
“Half of the reasons I do anything in business is so I can learn a new process or skill. Never be complacent.”
From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“There are many. I tend to look up to those who helped me instill the right way to treat people and then draw from these life experiences to help provide my customers with the best possible customer service possible. Locally, I think we have a great nonprofit group called the Wisconsin Procurement Institute. While in college, my former baseball coaches at UW-Whitewater, John Vodenlich and Jim Miller, showed me how perseverance and confidence can build the foundations of a leader, and help in developing a dynamic team. My father (Rick), grandfather (Ray) and partner (John Kugel) have taught me how to dream, work hard and be accountable.”
What was the best advice you ever received?
“Put yourself in a position where opportunity can find you.”
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?
“I have to incorporate humor in my daily regiment to keep me on track, and I tend to find humor in the subtleties that life brings. Just recently we held the ‘State of the County’ address at TAPCO, and two protestors with homemade signs came to the event. This was an unanticipated result of hosting an event that had both County Executive Scott Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett attending. One of my co-workers who asked me if TAPCO had a policy on visitors who had “non-TAPCO made” signs on premise. They were serious. Since, TAPCO is one of the nation’s largest sign manufacturers, my suggestion that they ‘put down their signs and just work in our sign shop’ didn’t get the rise out my co-worker like I suspected, but it was worth the effort.”