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Supplier puts products between troops, trouble

Rochester Business Journal
January 11, 2013

The U.S. military had a predicament a few years ago: It could not find a supplier for a metal product-until the issue was resolved with help from Rochester-based T&T Materials Inc.
 
Working with its suppliers in the United States and Europe, the company was able to deliver the product needed to protect part of a combat vehicle and prevent it from blowing up when hit by certain missiles.
 
Not only did T&T Materials make the sale, but it became a regular supplier.
 
Effort and relationship building have helped the firm prosper, says James Terhune, president and CEO.
 
"We work hard to get the jobs done," he says.
 
Terhune, 58, started T&T Materials in 2006. The materials distribution and sourcing company fills orders from the U.S. Department of Defense, prime contractors to the military sector and private industry. Its customers include Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp.
 
The products it supplies include carbon and stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper, titanium, nickel-based alloys and armor plate. The four-person business has annual sales of $5 million to $10 million. Revenue has doubled in each of the last two years.
 
By bidding on larger, multimillion-dollar contracts, T&T Materials is poised to capture a larger portion of defense-related spending by the government and prime contractors, Terhune says. He expects sales this year to be up 50 percent over last year as sales leads come to fruition.
 
Terhune's sales experience and industry background, coupled with his efforts to meet with customers across the country, have helped get business for T&T Materials. An Army veteran, Terhune was the co-founder of Industrial Metals Inc., a metals brokerage he sold in 2001.
 
An experienced workforce also has helped increase sales, Terhune says. That includes input from James Mossgraber, T&T Materials' vice president and general manager, who joined the company a couple of years ago. Mossgraber formerly worked in manufacturing as a director for sourcing and supply chain management.
 
The company is active in local veterans' organizations and remains focused on continuous job improvement. Terhune recently completed the first phase of AT&T Inc.'s Operation Hand Salute, a yearlong mentoring and business education program for CEOs of service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
 
Terhune was one of 15 business owners selected from hundreds of candidates nationwide for the program, which provides business training at John F. Kennedy University's Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership in Pleasant Hill, Calif. Participants also receive mentoring from AT&T senior executives and invitations to business events.
 
Ultimately, Terhune says, his main goal on the job is to serve the U.S. military personnel whose safety can depend on the items T&T Materials supplies. That responsibility gives him great satisfaction.
 
"I'm having the time of my life visiting (military) bases," he says. "I love my job."

Small Business is a weekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at sjacob@rbj.net.1/11/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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