Manufacturing and Retail

Manufacturer marks 70 years of vision

Tubelite makes storefront and entrance systems for a national client base.

October 9, 2015
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RiverTown Crossings Mall in Grandville is one of Tubelite’s local projects. Courtesy Tubelite

A West Michigan manufacturer of storefront and entrance systems is celebrating its 70th anniversary this month.

Tubelite Inc., which has its headquarters at 3056 Walker Ridge Drive NW in Walker, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month to commemorate the milestone.

Tubelite was founded in 1945 in Reed City, where the company still maintains an extrusion facility and employs approximately 100 of its nearly 300 employees.

The company relocated its headquarters to Walker in 2006, after having previously moved its assembly, warehousing and distribution operations there.

Today, Tubelite’s Walker facility is home to fabrication and distribution services as well as customer service, engineering, new product design, estimating and other operations.

Tubelite also has facilities in Dallas and in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

The company has been through several ownership arrangements since being founded by James T. Miller. In 2007, it joined Apogee Enterprises, a significant move for the company, according to Amy Cole, Tubelite president since 2014.

“The financial backing of our parent company, Apogee, to invest for growth (has helped),” she said.  “We bought a press in Reed City and we created and then doubled the size of our footprint in Dallas.”

Cole said in addition to the financial backing provided by the relationship with Apogee, Tubelite has done many things right over the years to secure its place within the industry.

“Seventy years is a long time, and I think what it comes down to is funding the business and understanding what we do well and sticking to that,” she said.

“It’s (due to) a sincere desire to understand and meet customer needs, and the grit and determination of the ownership. The other thing is a clear vision for the company and an excellent sales force.”

She noted good management has made a significant impact on the company’s longevity.

“One thing that is difficult to copy: You have to have good leadership,” she said. “Most people leave places due to a direct supervisor, so if you have good leadership talent, that gets you half the way there.”

She acknowledged the company’s commitment to and relationship with its employees as another factor in Tubelite’s success.

“We put a really high priority on being an employer of choice,” she said. “Our mission is not only to be the easiest to do business with as far as our business partners are concerned, but also an employer of choice. We work hard to make sure this is a great place to work, and we never take that for granted.”

Finally, she said Tubelite has a loyal customer base that has been important to its success.

“We have a very loyal base of customers, and we’ve been careful about selecting our customers and the projects we pursue.”

Tubelite’s products can be found as far West as Utah as well as along the East Coast and throughout the southern half of the United States, but the majority of the company’s clients are located in the Midwest.

Its storefronts and entrance systems can be found on a variety of commercial buildings, including retail stores, schools and office buildings.

RiverTown Crossings Mall in Grandville is one of the company’s local projects. It also fabricated the storefront and curtain wall for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce building in Lansing.

Cole expects Tubelite to continue its industry leadership and believes the company will reach the 100-year mark if it remains committed to its brand promise of dependability.

“Our brand promise is ‘Tubelite dependable,’ and we define dependable with our customers as quality, best lead times in the industry, value and excellent service,” Cole said. “As long as we do that and continue to develop new products that meet the market’s requirements, we expect to continue to outperform the market.”

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