VALPARAISO, IN - Distribution partners and Firefighters are invited to join with Task Force Tips on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 9 a.m. when the doors of the company's new World headquarters will officially open for business.
The building (at 2351 Industrial Drive,Valparaiso, Indiana, 46383-9511) has been years in the planning - as well as over a year of construction. The new headquarters more than doubles the work area for the Midwestern firefighting equipment manufacturer.
"It's long been our dream to have our entire company housed under a single roof," said Rod Carringer, vice president of sales and marketing. "This is the third time in our company's history that we've expanded into a newer, larger facility. Since we've planned enough space to basically double our size from what we are now, we expect to stay here for some time - and, unlike before, we've allowed ourselves a lot of room right here where we can build and grow."
The opening day celebration kicks off at 9 a.m., with plant tours beginning in the building's new firefighting museum. A hot dog and hamburger luncheon will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tours and product demonstrations will continue throughout the afternoon (outside, as well as in the building's new training room). The day will finish off with a pig roast dinner from 5 to 7 p.m.
The new facility adds 98,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 20,000 square feet of office space to the existing 50,000 square feet Industrial Drive location. Larson-Danielson Construction Company, Inc, LaPorte, Indiana, brought CEO Stewart McMillan's dream and blueprints to life.
Aside from creating a central spot where customers the world over will be able to congregate, this expansion helped to create some 170 construction related jobs locally, and bolstered Porter County, Indiana's economy with a multi-million dollar investment.
Few who drive up to the building's entrance will even think about it housing the world's most innovative manufacturer of firefighting equipment. Rather, TFT's two story, red-bricked firehouse "facade" - complete with twin bright red fire station doors and hand cut regional white limestone - will more likely remind visitors of the fire stations of childhood memories and dreams.
Guests coming through the front doors enter immediately into a world of memorabilia and treasures - TFT's very own firefighting museum. This two story showplace traces the company from its very beginnings in the fall of 1971 (in the basement of the McMillan home on Michigan Avenue in Hobart, Indiana).
On one wall, guests will see the single cocktail napkin (measuring 4 by 4 inches) upon which the late Clyde McMillan sketched out plans for the world's first "automatic" nozzle. The revolutionary design - sketched with red felt tipped pen in 1968 - has since become an industry standard. This unique idea allowed the nozzle to automatically open or close while maintaining the same pressure - much like a person putting his or her thumb on the end of a garden hose to regulate and produce a steady stream.
"What you'll see when you walk in probably depends on what day you've come, and what friends have sent us for display," explained Carringer. "I know that (TFT CEO) Stewart (McMillan) drove 8 hours to borrow a 1890s steamer from a group of volunteers in Clintonville, Wisconsin. That, itself, is an amazing bit of firefighting history."