Tatamy company goes from fear to fortune with business pivot

Stacy Wescoe//May 4, 2021

Tatamy company goes from fear to fortune with business pivot

Stacy Wescoe//May 4, 2021

Employees of Consolidated Storage Systems stand on the Conveyor Crossover, the product that helped double sales in 2020. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

A more than 100-year-old Tatamy company had a record year in 2020 thanks to a little luck and its decision to position itself to serve an industry that began booming during the COVID-19 pandemic: logistics.

Consolidated Storage Solutions, which makes shelving, platform and storage solutions for a variety of industries, began targeting the logistics and product-moving industries with a new product line, the Conveyor Crossover, a stairway and platform system that can be used to help warehouse employees safely climb over conveyor belts.

The move came at just the right time – and right after what could have been the end of the company.

It was in 2017 that the landlord of the company’s building decided to sell the property. Robert Ammerman, president of Consolidated Storage, was concerned that this would force the company into a move that he wasn’t sure it could afford.

“We’re in a 160,000-square-foot facility. It would have buried us to find an alternative site and move all that heavy equipment,” he said.

At the same time, growth was stagnant in the industries his company served, and while Consolidated had recovered from the recession of nearly 10 years earlier, sales were flat and his sales team was looking for new streams of revenue.

Vice President of Sales Collin Strauss had been pushing to create a product they could sell to the logistics and warehousing industry, which was starting to grow at the time.

“We needed to find some other markets for our products, someone who will need our products and are growing,” Ammerman said. “Distribution wasn’t a space we were really knocking on doors and talking to people.”

He said that industry was growing at a rate of about 20% a year, while the industries they targeted were flat.

Ammerman decided to take on two opportunities at the same time: to buy the company’s building and to launch a new product that would be something needed by the growing logistics industry.

The Conveyor Crossover PHOTO/SUBMITTED

The company decided to launch the Conveyor Crossover through its Equipto division.

Of course, to buy the building and new manufacturing equipment he needed funding.

That’s where he came in contact with Seedcopa, a certified development company, which helped Consolidated obtain the funding not only to buy the building but also to obtain the new equipment it would need to build out a new product line.

Sherwood Robbins, president of Seedcopa, said when he first sat down and talked with Ammerman and his team, it was clear the company had found itself in a dire situation.

“If they had to move and move all that heavy equipment too, it would have been too expensive,” Robbins said. “There are people who may have lost their jobs if the financing hadn’t gone through for this project.”

But instead of Consolidated’s story being a sad one, they were able to obtain an SBA 504 Loan, which is reserved for fixed assets, as well as other bank financing.

The company borrowed around $5 million, which it used to buy the building and equipment. The new Conveyor Crossovers were in production and being sold by 2019.

Ammerman said that while the crossover wasn’t a new product, it was one that was in high demand in the growing industry and sales started off well.

“We were willing to make the product that met certain customers’ needs,” Ammerman said.

Then, in early 2020, came the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic slowed many of the industries Consolidated had traditionally served.

But it was a boon to the logistics industry as more people started ordering online and e-commerce exploded across the country.

“These providers needed to grow their facilities to handle the volume of product they were handling and they built out rapidly.”

So with the Conveyor Crossover, instead of being one of the victims of the pandemic, the company became a huge success story. With the Conveyor Crossover the company’s sales were up more than 100% over 2019.

“We had already entered the market so we were prepared,” Ammerman said. “The question was can we keep up? So we expanded our operation and we were fortunate to be able to service that growth.”

So far the company, which just over three years ago was afraid it would have to close, has instead added 25 people to its 100-person staff. With the growth in e-commerce and logistics expected to continue, he said he expects the company will hire another 25 by the middle of the summer.

“We think we’re good and we can’t wait to find more customers,” he said.