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Technology & Automation at TAMKO



Throughout TAMKO Building Products, Inc.’s history, the company has continuously invested in new technology to produce the highest quality products and maximize efficiency and profits.

Here are some examples of how TAMKO has utilized technology to improve its operations and products:

  • Shingles that were once moved by hand from the end of the production line to pallets for shipping are now moved by robotic arms.
  • When introducing its Awaplan™ product in the 1970s, TAMKO invested in advanced equipment from Germany and allocated ample time and money to researching the formula to perfect the product.
  • TAMKO invested considerably in converting its lines when fiberglass started to grow in market share.
  • TAMKO added on-line equipment to its plants to streamline the production process of its laminated shingles.
  • TAMKO invested heavily in the Phillipsburg, Kansas plant to modernize its operations.
  • TAMKO converted papermaking mills to roofing felt production and composite pallet manufacturing equipment to produce composite decking.
  • TAMKO’s sales staff were some of the first in the industry to use laptop computers in the field for estimating and reporting.

These innovations greatly contributed to TAMKO’s success. Despite integrating technology into every area of the company, TAMKO has remained committed to retaining talent as well.

“The commitment to not laying off people in general goes back decades, perhaps to the beginning of the company,” said TAMKO Executive Vice President Tim Whelan. “The method has been to get there through attrition, rather than through layoffs, and I think that’s given us a certain competitive advantage.”

He continued, “It takes a while to train people, and today, as you have fewer and fewer people on the line, training people is increasingly difficult, so if lay people off and bring them back, the good people find something else to do. They’re going to be employed by someone else with more stability.”


TAMKO Volunteers Its Corporate Pilots, Planes to Help Veterans

Image Source: The Joplin Globe/Roger Nomer
Image Source: The Joplin Globe/Roger Nomer

While the typical day for a TAMKO corporate pilot involves flying executives to and from various sites, other days are spent helping the nation’s wounded veterans and their families. TAMKO Building Products, one of the largest privately-owned manufacturers of residential and low-slope roofing, railing and decks, waterproofing and cements and coatings in the U.S., has a team of four corporate pilots that the company volunteers to fly wounded veterans and their families around the country in TAMKO’s private planes.

TAMKO has been volunteering its planes and pilots for the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) since 2008. VAC is a nonprofit organization that partners with businesses like TAMKO to fly injured veterans and their families across the country for free.

TAMKO’s pilots have flown several missions, including three earlier this year. Some previous flights have involved flying wounded veterans from the hospital to their homes and helping military wives visit their recovering husbands. On one previous mission, TAMKO pilots Mitchell Ochs and Mike Bentley transported a recovering veteran to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. so he could be with a dying friend.

“It’s very fulfilling to be able to give back to a solider,” Bentley told The Joplin Globe.

“It’s really great to be able to take care of a veteran who fought for this country,” Ochs added.

Along with flying for free, the private planes offer recovering veterans a more comfortable environment than a commercial plane. Sometimes during VAC flights, plane seats are removed so that veterans with prosthetic legs can fly more comfortably. Also, commercial flights can be difficult and time-consuming, and private flights allow veterans to arrive at the hangar and board the plane without having to wait around or go through extended security checks of their prosthetic limbs.

VAC was founded by Walt Fricke in 2006 and has since flown more than 1,000,000 miles and completed over 1,000 outbound and returns trips. The organization looks for veterans and families in need of transport and then informs the 1,500+ VAC volunteers in its networks who locate an available pilot and plane.


A True Blue American Company

In an era of continuous and unrelenting globalization, it is difficult to find a company that was started in the U.S. and still maintains all of its operations here in the country.  Finding well-paying jobs at a company, especially if they include manufacturing, can be difficult at times because of the competition from cheaper labor in East Asia.   However, in Joplin, Missouri TAMKO has managed to achieve exactly that ideal goal since 1944 when the company was founded by E.L. Craig.  The company’s success story is one that people should look at and pay attention to because it proves America’s business capabilities.

TAMKO is named after the original states which the founders E.L. Craig and his wife Mary Ethel believed they would primarily represent: Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.  The family-run company was started out of a streetcar barn in Joplin and was a basic roofing business.  The company remained fairly small and localized to the states it was named after until E.L. Craig’s son-in-law, J.P. Humphreys, took over as company president in 1960.  From 1960 until 1993 when he died, J.P. oversaw the largest geographic expansion of the company.  This led the company to have 12 manufacturing plants today with warehouses and offices spread out across the country.

The company is continuing to expand today, however, the new expansion involves the range of products being developed and produced at TAMKO’s plants.  Since J.P. and Ethelmae Humphreys’ son David Humphreys became TAMKO President and CEO in 1994, the company has branched out into producing polyester mat, facer paper, waterproofing, coatings and composite decking and railing.




JOPLIN, Mo. – December 21, 2014 – This Memorial Day, many people will stop and think of America’s military men and women, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice to the nation while serving the country. Honoring our fallen service men and women is an important tradition that sends a powerful message to our veterans and their families and to those who continue to serve our nation.

Several organizations have been established in an effort to assist our veterans in finding employment when they return home from service. TAMKO is actively involved in the 100,000 Jobs Mission which is a non-profit organization that works with employers to help locate jobs for veterans and military personnel.   Today, more than 60 veterans are employed at TAMKO’s Joplin-area locations.

“When we hire an employee with a military background, they generally fit well into the TAMKO culture,” said TAMKO’s President and CEO, David Humphreys. “Every employee at TAMKO must understand our culture of honesty, integrity and compliance and the military does a good job teaching those traits.”

More than 130 veterans are employed company-wide at TAMKO.

NOTE: ***TAMKO will have veterans Jennifer McDaniel, John Sweeny and Mike Shifferd available for interviews relating to this story in the afternoon on May 22 at the corporate office at 220 West Fourth Street, Joplin. Please call and let us know if and how many individuals from your organization plan to attend.


TAMKO® Building Products, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest independent manufacturers of residential and commercial roofing products (including Heritage® Asphalt Shingles and MetalWorks® Steel Shingles), decking and railing products, waterproofing, cements, and coatings. Since 1944, TAMKO’s success is the direct result of teamwork and enduring relationships with customers, suppliers and employees. Privately owned, TAMKO is committed to producing top-quality products with excellent product support. For more information about TAMKO, visit our Web site at