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Strong Ending

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 11:01 p.m. January 1, 2012
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
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The evolution at drinkware manufacturer Tervis Tumbler, in everything from sales and employees to production space and cups made, is remarkably contrarian, considering the recession.

The Venice-based company, for one, upped its output from 40,000 cups a day to 80,000 in 2011. It completed construction on a factory and office expansion, going from 35,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet. Employee head count ballooned, too, from about 425 when the company was featured on the cover of the Business Review in late January to 700 during peak holiday season in early December. Annual revenues, around $75 million in 2010, surpassed $100 million, though the company declines to release specific sales figures.  

Tervis even doubled its company-run retail store presence in 2011, from five, with four in Florida, to 10 stores nationwide. New locations include stores in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. The company now sells products in all 50 states, when including the Internet.

Tervis President and CEO Barry Wolfson says the growth has been exciting and invigorating — but it comes with a new set of challenges. After all, this was a business with $14 million in annual sales in 2004. “Playing on a national stage,” says Wolfson, “is a lot different than playing on a local and regional stage.”

Playing on a national stage isn't cheap, either. Wolfson says the company's capital expenditures, at least $7 million according to executives in the Jan. 27 Business Review cover story, were “by far the highest” in the company's 65-year history. That includes the new facility, equipment to fill it, business systems and multiple technology upgrades. Says Wolfson: “We've made a lot of progress in positioning the company for future growth.”

Wolfson, who was named president and CEO of the firm in late 2010, spends a large chunk of his time on the company's future. Wolfson consulted with the firm for six years before owner Norbert Donelly brought him on fulltime. Wolfson replaced longtime Tervis executive Laura Spencer, who left the firm in May. Spencer is now CFO for Sarasota-based JCI Jones Chemicals.

“Tervis has created a category of insulated drinkware,” says Wolfson. “As we've become more popular, that has allowed us to expand without butting our heads against too much competition.”

But a $100 million firm, in any industry, will certainly attract competitors, Wolfson acknowledges. So he plans to combat that, partially, by expanding the offerings. “We are trying to do more product development,” says Wolfson. “We have a new emphasis on accessories.”

Another key move in 2011 occurred late in the year, when Tervis secured licensing rights for Harley Davidson, LucasFilm, NASCAR and Hello Kitty. The firm can begin to use logos and designs from those entities in its product portfolio in 2012, says Wolfson. Tervis has scored other major licensing rights over the past few years, including the NFL and Disney.
“We will have a big year on licensing products,” Wolfson says. “Harley Davidson will be a monster for us.”

The company's robust 2011, finally, included the continuation of the buzz it has generated for a few years. Most recently, Tervis was featured on a “Made in America” segment on ABC World News Tonight. “It wasn't just a flash,” says Wolfson. “They had a lot of information about us.”


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