Tervis building Innovation Center


The Tervis Innovation Center, shown in a rendering COURTESY RENDERING; STAFF PHOTO / RACHEL S. O'HARA

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 9:10 p.m.

VENICE - In a move to remain one of Southwest Florida's fastest-growing companies, Tervis has taken a step forward in its evolution.

The North Venice-based maker of insulated cups and tumblers is building a $3 million Innovation Center that will assemble its creative workforce to encourage greater teamwork.

In all, 75 Tervis employees are to move into the 24,000-square-foot building, which is being built adjacent to the company's headquarters and factory.

"The challenges from when you're a small company to when you are 10 times that size continue to evolve, and we are just trying to keep up and even get in front of it," president and chief executive Patrick Redmond said Tuesday.

Sarasota County economic development officials often point to Tervis -- along with its custom window-maker and neighbor PGT Inc. -- as two of the region's top manufacturing success stories of recent years.

Tervis has been making its insulated drinkware since 1946. But with sales growth from new products and accessories, the company has tripled its payroll since 2010.

Today, Tervis employs more than 800 people.

SPREADING OUT

The Innovation Center, slated for completion in the fall, will house the company's marketing, website, new product development, creative and line planning departments.

They are now working "on top of each other," Redmond said.

"We need to bring home better innovation for our products, our designs, for our customer experience," he said during a groundbreaking event Tuesday morning. "More importantly, it will break them out of their functional silos and allow them to collaborate and work as a team."

The building will feature open working and meeting spaces, along with a test kitchen where consumers can check out new products.

While Tervis has become so familiar to consumers that its brand name is often evoked to describe any plastic double-wall cup -- the way Kleenex has become synonymous with tissue paper -- Redmond said the company can do better.

"Our brand awareness is still relatively low, just over 20 percent," he said. "So there is a lot of work yet to be done in the country. We are still very much a regional brand."

To that end, Tervis also is expanding outside its base of operations by opening retail stores around the country. By the end of June, it will have 36 stores in all, including one that debuts this month on Sarasota's St. Armands Circle. Tervis products also are sold at Bealls stores, Bed Bath & Beyond and Macy's.

Tervis has grown in part because of affinity products that appeal to consumer favorites. The company licenses designs and logos from colleges, professional sports teams, NASCAR, Disney, Hallmark and Warner Brothers.

Hello Kitty and Harley-Davidson are among the latest licences for its tumblers, mugs, water bottles and accessories such as tops, straws and handles.

Site work on the Innovation Center began in late January, but company officials -- including third generation shareholder Rogan Donelly from the family-owned business -- held the ground-breaking event on Tuesday.

Willis Smith Construction is the contractor, and Sarasota architect Greg Hall designed the center.

NEW BOARD MEMBERS

Tervis also recently expanded its board of directors by adding two seasoned retail executives to a now nine-member board.

Michelle Stacy is the former president of Keurig Inc., a division of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. During her five years there, the Keurig single-serve coffee system grew from 2 million to 16 million households.

Kevin Haley is senior vice president of innovation at Under Armour. He has been with the Baltimore-based sports clothing and athletic shoe company since 2007, and before that worked for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

This story appeared in print on page D1

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