Tactical gear for the military and law enforcement
"I started designing equipment around how I taught a class, and how I would move," Beck says. "It allowed me to evaluate and design around the biomechanics of the human form and human movement, and that's what's allowed me to accelerate some of the concepts I come up with. From the very beginning, I've always wanted to be considered the best in class and to have the best product in our industry, second to none, whether in design, or armor-wise, or innovation, or load carrying, or whatever it might be. I never wanted somebody to question my focus on trying to put my best foot forward for the individual police officer or soldier that was wearing my equipment."
This formula has allowed worldwide growth for TYR Tactical, with contracts not only with local and federal law enforcement agencies and the U.S. military, but also in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and Sweden. Among the many innovations that are part of TYR's developments is an exclusive, patented hybrid material called PV, which improves the wear-resistance, lifespan, and fire-retardant capabilities of its products. All work, from material cutting to final packaging, is done in-house in order to maintain the quality and consistency the business is known for.
The company's trademarked mantra, "Innovate or Die," illustrates the seriousness of Beck's commitment to designing and manufacturing the best possible equipment to protect his customers from harm. He initially started modifying existing designs to improve their performance in his spare time in the early 2000s. Then, in 2002, he graduated from working out of storage units to renting a former luggage factory in Georgia, along with its designers and staff, to create his products.
In 2007, Beck moved the whole operation to Arizona, and a private equity firm bought out the original company a short time later. Disenchantment with the arrangement led Beck to move on soon after. In 2010, after a two-year non-compete agreement was fulfilled, he started TYR Tactical. The company broke ground on a larger, more than 78,000-square foot facility in Peoria in 2016. They're soon to open another manufacturing facility in El Paso, Texas.
"[The private equity firm] shut operations down and started laying everybody off," Beck says of his original company, "including all these skilled sewing people that had worked for me for years. So when I started TYR, my entire design team came over to work for me, and so I have a lot of the same people that worked for me since 2005, and some since 2002. We're very family oriented. We've all grown together, and it's just been a great experience. It's about the people that work for you first. If you take care of the people, you take care of the company, and we've done really, really well as a company because we've taken that mindset."
The highly skilled sewing team, which makes up nearly half of the total employee count, is a key part of generating the quality products that the company has built its' reputation on. In addition to offering good wages to all of its employees, TYR also provides the rather unique benefit of a full-time doctor on staff at its Peoria headquarters. The doctor handles the medical needs of all the workers -- from routine physicals to vaccines and even home visits for severe illness.
All care and medical supplies are totally free for the employees and are paid for directly by the company, without the need for insurance claims. Beck says they spend about $70,000 per year on the supplies and medications in addition to the doctor's salary, and notes, "It pays off. You have a healthier workforce because of it, and to me it's the future of things. The doctor has to save me 100 days of people not taking their PTOs for medical care, and already this year, he's probably saved more than 220 days, so he's more than doubled that. It keeps people in the seats and keeps production on track."
With tens of millions of dollars spent on a wide variety of domestically sourced raw materials each year, the company has had some minor challenges in acquisitions and with price increases, but nothing that has created serious production issues.
While much of the new work comes to the company through reputation and word-of-mouth, TYR Tactical also maintains an inside and outside sales force, with some specializing in law enforcement contracts and others in military work. Its three brands are comprised of TYR Tactical®, Huron™ and Revere K9™.
"My job is life safety, and you have to focus on the product first, and not the bottom line," Beck says. "In my industry, the CEOs are not [typically] the designers of the product, but I design every single product that's in this building. It's my passion."
Challenges: Continuing to find the skilled team members necessary to manufacture first-quality products.
Opportunities: "I feel like we're in a really good spot when it comes to product design and product development," Beck says. "We've got a solid team that's very focused on the engineering. Pretty much 80 percent of what we can make over the next three years is already sold."
The company recently won the Arizona Manufacturers Council’s Medium Manufacturer of the Year award in recognition for excellent work and advocacy on behalf of the Arizona manufacturing sector.
Needs: To continue innovating protection for the military as world threats grow. "We need to think about what the next generation of warrior is going to be set up with," Beck says, "and who's going to be providing that best-of-class product."