The history of a company tells a lot about where it places its concentration. Key information such as leadership changes, company growth, product innovation, and more all help to inform consumers as to the most core components of what makes a company tick. To help illustrate this point, we looked at the case of TAMKO, a leader in the roofing supply industry. By taking a look at the company’s history and seeing how its values manifest in its current actions, readers will have a better ability to analyze the work of TAMKO.
Founder and creation
In terms of understanding a company’s culture, there is no better place to start than with its founder and the initial creation of the business itself. In this case, a look at the founder of TAMKO, E.L. Craig, is informative in many ways. From the start, Craig’s life was a story of perseverance and determination. At the age of 19, he fell from a train while shoveling coal and became paralyzed from the waist down. It was an injury that would have left most with a lifetime inability to walk, but Craig was determined to heal. He took this endeavor upon himself by getting a pair of crutches and dragging his legs while moving until he retrained his ability to use them.
That single-minded focus would prove to be indicative of Craig’s larger focus in life, helping him to prosper as a businessman. Through his professional career, he started and owned many different businesses. These included a frozen custard franchise, a gas supply company, and a construction business. It wasn’t until the age of 69 that he decided to start the roofing manufacturing company that would eventually grow into the nationwide business it is today. Though a modest operation in 1944 (its first year of doing business), Craig’s tenacious focus on growth and change all but ensured the company had big things ahead.
Though the company’s founder remained involved in the business until he passed away, his daughter, Ethelmae Craig, would take over leadership responsibilities soon into its existence. Having spent part of her young life working in her father’s roofing plants, she was uniquely qualified to carry on her father’s legacy of determined business practices. During this time, Ethelmae worked to bolster company operations and create new supply chains to fuel its manufacturing processes.
During this time, Ethelmae also married the man who would go on to become the company’s longest-running leader, J.P. Humphreys. Humphreys, a salesman by experience, soon caught on to the intricacies of the family roofing business. As it would turn out, he was somewhat of a natural and was able to meaningfully contribute to the company quickly. In 1958, he was named Vice President of the business and soon moved into the primary leadership role following the death of E.L. Craig in 1960. Humphreys’ leadership ushered in a time of pronounced expansion and growth for the company.
As the longest-tenured leader in the company’s history, Humphreys left an indelible mark on the brand and the employees with which he worked. When recounting stories of the leader, many characterize him as fair and honest above all else. He had a firm belief that the quality of the product was the best insurance money could buy and he strove tirelessly to raise that standard of quality whenever possible. An integral part of that philosophy was recognition of the talent that everyone at the company possessed and a desire to make sure that each employee was afforded the opportunity to use their talents to the fullest capacity possible.
This set of ideas led to a company-wide program of “continuous improvement” which saw TAMKO working to ensure that it was always expanding and changing in a positive direction. This policy helped TAMKO grow from its relatively small roots into a company that spanned the country and has employed thousands of individuals over its history. Though it still maintains its headquarters in the small, midwestern area where the company was originally founded, the business has truly become a national brand over the years thanks, in part, to the vision and direction of Humphreys and his tireless dedication to quality.
Now 75 years since its creation, the present-day makeup of the company is heavily informed by the ideas and leaders that have helped guide it over the years. Still a family-led business, the company is now headed by David Humphreys, the son of J.P. and Ethelmae. Ethelmae continued on in her role as Chairman of the Board until 2019, helping the company keep a strong and unbroken connection throughout its existence to the ideas first put forth by E.L. Craig so long ago.
This connection to family and continuity of leadership has helped the company maintain its focus on a core set of values that underline everything it does. With quality of products and loyalty to its talented team of employees and longtime customers being at its forefront, the brand has been able to maintain a legacy of successful expansion without compromising on its strengths. Today, that work continues, with new products being added to its line and the quality of existing products being refined on an ongoing basis. It is clear to see that the company’s history still holds sway in its decision-making to this day.
Looking to a company’s history can be a telling way to understand the core values that help support its everyday actions. This fact is illustrated quite succinctly by looking to the history of TAMKO and seeing the ways in which the roofing manufacturer has benefited from its chain of strong leadership. That leadership has not only shaped the ways in which the company started and did business during its infancy, but also the ways in which the company has evolved to meet the needs of modern consumers and professionals. For those seeking to better understand how any organization is shaped by its own history, a further look into this roofing supply company can be quite an informative exercise.