JOPLIN, Mo.— Much has changed in the roofing industry since 1944, but one thing has remained constant – the letters T-A-M-K-O as a trusted name in building products.
This week, TAMKO Building Products LLC celebrates 75 years in business with a historic anniversary and employee events, including a picnic at its Downtown Operations facility in Joplin, Missouri.
On September 5, 1944, TAMKO was officially born when founders E.L. and Mary Ethel Craig named their new roofing company “TAMKO” as an acronym of the first letters of the states they believed would be their sales territory – Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Over the next 75 years, TAMKO grew from one small location in an old streetcar barn in southwest Missouri to one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of roofing with more than 20 facilities across the U.S., a host of building products and nationwide distribution.
The company expanded into a variety of building products, including new styles of asphalt shingles, steel shingles, roofing underlayments, waterproofing products and cements and coatings.
“We will continue to adapt the world to ourselves – as change is inevitable – but how we adapt; how we evolve; who we hire to join our team: all of these will determine our future,” said David Humphreys, TAMKO President and CEO at an anniversary gathering. “Things will change; we will make strategic choices; and, as we celebrate 75 years, we will be focused on positioning TAMKO for even faster growth and greater success.”
A Real-Life American Dream Story
The TAMKO story is one of perseverance, entrepreneurialism and the American dream. Founder E.L. Craig was a self-made man who started working at age 12 and went on to start a series of successful businesses. He was 69 years old when he started his final business venture – a small roofing manufacturer in Joplin, Missouri that his wife named TAMKO.
Craig was a deeply-principled man and TAMKO continues to be guided by those same core values, under the leadership of the third generation of its founding family. TAMKO is privately owned and operated and has a commitment to “stay in business for the long-haul” as late TAMKO President J.P. Humphreys often said.
J.P. was the one who introduced TAMKO to the principles of Continuous Improvement and the work of famed statistician Dr. W. Edwards Deming in 1981, a defining moment for the company, driving much of TAMKO’s progress since then in vertical integration, product development and manufacturing processes.
TAMKO Chairman Ethelmae Humphreys, 92, daughter of the company’s founders and a TAMKO employee for more than 70 years, graciously led the company in a variety of leadership positions, acting as a steadying influence during times of transition. J.P. and Ethelmae’s eldest son, David Craig Humphreys, has led the company as President and CEO since 1994, expanding both the company’s geographic and product footprint since then.
“Over time, we’ve seen great business growth and we’ve built upon our character without sacrificing who we are,” Ethelmae said. “It’s special for me to think about TAMKO – A company initiated by my father, named by my mother and run by my husband and children.”
“However, we never would’ve made it without our people,” she continued. “For 75 years, TAMKO expected hard work, honesty and integrity from its employees, and just as my father did from day one, our employees have demonstrated a work ethic and level of dedication that no one ever had to ask for.”