Innovative Products and Smart Solutions
TuffWrap Installations is featured in the Fall/Winter edition of Who’s Who in Building & Construction. Hear from Anthony Catoia, TuffWrap’s Director of Sales, as he provides a historical overview of why TuffWrap has become the number one choice for interior protection solutions in North America.
Written by Hilary Parker for the Blue Book Network.
TuffWrap® started out as a clever product solution to a roofing contractor’s problem, and 20 years on, the clever solutions haven’t stopped coming. The innovative approach that company Owner and President Dave Campbell used to create his first suspended cover system in 1999 became the start of many more products born out of customers’ needs and TuffWrap innovations.
TuffWrap began as a dust and debris containment system, first used by roofing contractors. It was developed by Campbell when a colleague had an interesting challenge: to keep dust from contaminating a workspace while roofers built above. His solution was to suspend a polyethylene sheet below the rafters to catch both dust that had accumulated over the years along with any debris that might drop during a re-roofing project. It worked well, and with some fine-tuning over the next few jobs, this suspended cover system started getting noticed.
Campbell’s concept made the young company, now known as TuffWrap Installations (TuffWrap), initially succeed. The firm landed its first big client, a multi-billion-dollar food company in Hershey, Pennsylvania. That client was the first of many Fortune 500 companies TuffWrap would work with over time, many of which are in the food and beverage industry. TuffWrap also works with aerospace, pharmaceutical and manufacturing markets. “The purpose of our products and services is to protect a company—their employees and their inventory—from contamination, dust and debris,” says Anthony Catoia, TuffWrap’s Director of Sales.
MEETING CUSTOMER NEEDS
One problem TuffWrap solves for its customers is avoiding complete shutdown of operations during construction. As companies run multiple shifts and even 24/7 production lines, the ability to minimize downtime is vitally important. “TuffWrap products give customers peace of mind that operations will stay functioning and won’t be adversely affected by ongoing construction or renovation,” Catoia says.
“As a company, we’re really focused on the customer and how we can help them be successful on a daily basis,” he adds. Another way the company meets client needs is baked right into the product itself. All TuffWrap materials are anti-static, antimicrobial and fire resistant.
“Anti-static is vitally important in places like data centers,” Catoia says, “and antimicrobial is super important in the food and beverage world and the pharmaceutical industry.” “The fire-resistant aspect is that the material will not con-tribute to a flame,” he continues. “It will burn, but it won’t add to a fire and make it grow.” In recent years, Catoia says, the company has developed relationships with several property management companies in the retail sector whose tenants don’t want dust or debris affecting their products during a re-roofing or re-modeling job. This niche has provided further opportunity for growth.
Catoia says customers who had experienced TuffWrap’s suspended cover system started asking for a new kind of containment solution, asking “Can you make it vertical?” So TuffWrap developed the C.O.R.E. Frameless Wall® in 2003, followed in 2011 by a hybrid wall reinforced with a metal stud support system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some companies turned to TuffWrap for these wall systems as a way to help provide physical distancing between employees, Catoia says.
One of the biggest successes for the company is its innovative SmartSeam® technology. SmartSeam is a new generation of the original TuffWrap material. “We developed a material that is sewn together in panels with a heat-reactive thread,” Catoia explains. “During the event of a fire, the thread will melt and the panels break way and the sprinklers can function as designed.”
It took some trial and error to get the product just right. “We did extensive development,” Catoia continues. “We designed and built all of our own machines and equipment that cut the material then sews it back together with the heat-reactive thread.” The work paid off. SmartSeam is now classified by UL to 723S and meets National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 13, giving it industry seals of approval for installation beneath sprinkler systems.
NEW PRODUCT LAUNCHES IN 2021
The company is getting ready to unveil its newest product, TuffWrap® EXT, at the beginning of 2021. It provides a temporary exterior wall that creates a shell over an entire construction area to protect sites from the elements while work is being performed. “Exterior work has opened up a lot of doors for us,” Catoia says. “We’d never gotten involved in new building envelope construction or renovations before, so the EXT offers us a whole new sector of clients.” “We’ve made a tremendous amount of investment in trying to find the right solution,” Catoia adds, including hiring an outside engineering firm to help develop the product.
The product is currently being used at a test site, the Rupp Arena concourse of the Central Bank Center in Lexington, Kentucky. A technical team from TuffWrap is working closely with the arena’s primary contractor’s building systems engineer, along with the facility’s engineer, to design and attach custom brackets to steel columns that support the 1,400 linear feet of the EXT reinforced sheeting material. The temporary walls have been installed from floor to roof deck at approximately 30 to 40 feet in height and reinforced with strapping for extra support.
RAISING SAFETY AWARENESS
Along with TuffWrap’s proprietary materials and unique product offerings, the firm has also developed branded installation methods, Catoia says. Installers receive not only product installation training but also Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 30-hour training. The company also created its unique Raise the Awareness internal safety program, which began about three years ago. Jim Conte was hired as Safety Manager and worked with a safety training consultant to develop a program specifically for the TuffWrap team.
“It’s an investment,” Catoia says. “In our industry, we’re the only ones to have a dedicated safety manager, who incorporates standards that set us apart from everyone else.” While identifying potential hazards on the job site is a primary topic of discussion, the company has also identified physical movement as an important part of its safety regimen. For example, Catoia explains that much of the firm’s work requires that crews keep their arms raised above their heads for extended periods. Alleviating stress in the neck and shoulders is important for both health and safety.
The TuffWrap team devised its own stretching and warm-up regimen for the beginning of shifts to help installers stay flexible. Conte spends the majority of his time on-site at jobs around the country, working with crews to make sure they are operating safely and helping them to develop ways to do things better.
INVESTED IN SUCCESS
Because the company has crews all over the county, one challenge for TuffWrap is keeping remote teams feeling connected to the company. “At the end of the day, one of our main goals is to keep the remote workers happy and engaged in the company because it can be difficult for them,” Catoia says. “We’re really trying to find ways to make sure everybody feels part of the team.” Weekly or biweekly Zoom meetings for sales and project managers, recorded messages for the installation crews and employee newsletters keep channels of communication open. An annual company meeting brings the employees together for a weekend to learn, bond and develop team skills.
Catoia, who has been with the company for 10 years, believes much of TuffWrap’s success comes from its leadership’s willingness to invest back into the company to better serve both customers and employees. “I think a lot of our success comes from Dave Campbell, who’s our majority owner, and Dave Boscio, who’s our minority owner,” Catoia says. “They’re really committed to the company, to its growth and to moving us forward. Having the leadership willing to go that extra mile—that’s what makes us successful.”