GREENVILLE — After 130 years in business; 35 in Greenville, Ohio, Troy Sunshade Company’s President and General Manager Kimberly Longfellow shared some of the company’s secrets to success, during its 130 Year Anniversary Open House, Saturday, June 24.
Troy Sunshade Co. manufactures a large line of cloth products, both standard and custom-designed, in its 66,000 square foot plant. Some of the products include: coin bags, courier bags, mail bags, night deposit bags and cremation urn bags. In recent years, Troy Sunshade Co. has become an active partner in advertising specialty associations, including Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) and Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), where it has received a five-star and an A+ Superior rating. How does a company last 130 years?
“It has been successful so long because we change with the times,” Longfellow said. “Everybody needs bags. It started out as a sun shade company for buggy tops, which is where the name comes from. When cars took over, we made windshields, furniture, then newspaper carriers for boys and girls. Now we are moving into specialty items. We have seen a large increase in our production the last year in a half.”
According to Longfellow, last year’s sales totaled about $1.8 million, by way of about 6,660 individual products made by 32 people.
“That is another reason people appreciate this company, because more people find value in buying American,” she said. “We keep everything right here having quality control, and allowing us to keeping Americans working. Each bag is hand-made, there is no automation. For the past five years, we have never had a layoff. That is a big deal in this day and age.”
Linda Blocher, of Greenville, has worked for Troy Sunshade Co. two years. She has performed many duties, such as putting sliders on zippers, applying leather work, name tag holders and leather patches on bags. Now she is a seamstress and is very happy there.
“My mother was a seamstress all her life and she made all of our clothes,” Blocher said. “She went to heaven a year ago and I am just trying to make her proud by doing my best.”
According to Blocher, the company is very generous and when it comes to holidays gives employees nice dinners and sends them home early with pay.
The 130 Year Anniversary celebration included a grilled lunch, free hand-outs and a tour of the facility. The building was built in 1909, according to Longfellow, and has always been a sewing operation. It was first the Union Underwear Company, then Buckeye Overhaul followed by General Athletic. Troy Sunshade took over in 1982. The hard wood floors and some of the antiquated machinery is proof of the businesses that came before. The company’s efficient process takes each product on a trip from pattern-making, to cutting, stenciling if necessary, sewing, zipper – applying if necessary, and shipping. In 2016, the company purchased more than 175,000 yards of black zipper. Assistant Floor Supervisor Julie Moore said she likes all aspects of production.
“I get to see the product being made from the beginning to the end,” she said.
While employees enjoy the first-shift and company benefits, Longfellow said the real key to employee happiness at Troy Sunshade is the sense of family it provides. Longfellow has worked for the company 32 years.
“It is the idea of knowing we feel safe,” she said. “They have a home here, as we call it. We’ve all been through births, deaths, weddings and grandchildren. Sometimes there are headaches, but the excitement of getting a new product, watching my employees figure out how to make it and watching their faces light up at the finish, makes it all worthwhile. We are very proud of what we make here, and everyone has a part. Our motto is ‘There is no substitute for quality’. That is exactly what we do all of the time – make the highest-quality products.”
To learn more, visit http://www.bagsbytroy.com/