Inc. 5000 Applicant of the Week: Technical Consumer Products
BY Meredith Maines
Ellis Yan was creating those more efficient spiral light bulbs way before 'green' was a buzzword.
As we process applications for the 2009 Inc. 500 | 5000, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. One that caught our eye was Aurora, Ohio-based Technical Consumer Products.
Long before "green" was a buzz word, Ellis Yan was working in the lighting industry, looking for ways to be more energy efficient. In 1993, he quit his trading company and co-founded Technical Consumer Products with his then newly-retired father-in-law. The second floor of Yan's Shaker Heights, Cleveland home served as the company's first office building. Now TCP has offices in Canada, Europe, China, Japan, Taiwan and the beginnings of influence in South America.
"No one used the word 'green' at the time," Yan said. "It was just about efficiency and saving money. The No. 1 concern was the product's performance."
It wasn't until events such as the early-millennium's California blackout that people began pushing for lighting to be a sustainable business. And within the first year of TCP, Yan said they began to identify the opportunity of the spiral bulb, now known as compact fluorescent lighting.
"The shape combined with the performance of that bulb penetrated the market," he said. "Afterwards it took a lot of hard work and planning to build the business, of course helped along by the popularity of the green movement."
The company has progressed since its early days at industry lighting fairs where TCP would be represented with a 10' by 10' folding table.
"We would put lots of products out on that table, and that was it," Yan said. "We were so desperate that we looked through the yellow pages for hardware stores that would carry our product."
Now Yan says his company holds most of the U.S. market share in the CFL industry, and it's all due to his perfectionism.
"We are the only company that has completely integrated the production process from design to manufacturing the raw materials to assembly," he said. "I'm paranoid and want to have complete control over the formula to keep things like lead out of our product. I have very tough quality controls of all aspects of the business."