The success of Foutch Industries helps partners operate worldwide
Without the hard work of employees in Smithville, Tennessee, dozens of factories around the globe would come to a halt.
As a manufacturing partner in the finishing business, the staff at Foutch Industries applies paint and powder coating to everything from exhaust systems to appliances and retail store fixtures. Their hard work keeps the operations of clients like Honda, Toyota, BMW, General Motors, Kohler, Caterpillar, Dollar General and many more as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
“We’re a full-service supplier with trucking and warehousing operations, in addition to our finishing business,” says CEO and founder Tracy Foutch. “We started small, and today, we process millions of parts each year.”
To best understand the growth over the past 30-plus years, one has to get to know Foutch. “I’ve always been mechanically inclined, even when I was a child,” he says. “My parents tell me that when I was a baby, I would take everything apart. Then, I got to the point where I could take something apart, put it back together and make it work. Eventually, I got interested in engines for lawn mowers and Volkswagens. By the age of 12, I was doing body work. I thought it’s what I’d do the rest of my life.”
Fast forward about a decade, and Foutch turned his hobby into a business so small the one-car garage he operated it in could barely accommodate a vehicle. Space was so tight that he was unable to work on the front and rear of a car unless the garage door was wide open. Within a year Foutch moved his business into a 2,400-square-foot building. About three years after that, he got his start in the finishing business and secured contacts to complete 15,000 parts a year.
“If You Build It, They Will Come”
The word can’t isn’t part of Foutch’s vocabulary. While operating out of his 2,400-square-foot building, Foutch caught wind of a potential contract to do 100,000 parts a year. Without the contract secured, he bought 3 acres of land and put up a new building. Contract secured, but still finishing parts by hand, he looked for ways to boost his efficiency.
He soon found himself in California, researching whether he could alter a machine to fit his business’s specific needs. Apprehensive but determined, he took dozens of pictures, bought the machine and shipped it back to Tennessee. “Everyone thought I’d lost my mind,” he says. “They thought I’d never get it back together.
“I had to build a storyboard with pictures to reassemble it,” he adds. “When we finally got it turned on, that thing spit out more parts than you can imagine. What we had been doing in an entire day, we did in a few hours. And now, because of the machine, I was able to use unskilled labor.”
A few years later, he found himself in a similar situation. Foutch bought another machine before he had a building to house it or work to run on it. “I convinced the bank to loan me the money and built another building while the machine was in the parking lot,” he recalls.
To say everything worked out may be a bit of an understatement. What began as a one-man operation is now the largest private employment organization in Smithville with about 150 employees working in four buildings totaling more than 370,000 square feet. “They say if you build it, they will come. They just don’t say how long it’s going to take,” Foutch says. “You’ve got to ride that out. The biggest thing is that you’ve got to be very persistent. Keep the faith that it’s going to work out. If you don’t solve it and quit, you’ll never know how close you were to success.”
The Importance of Fiber
With four locations, communication is key, not only to keep the Smithville operations humming, but also to ensure Foutch Industries’ partners can maintain their production levels. “Fiber helps us dramatically,” says Foutch. “It keeps our plants up and running and saves us thousands of dollars.”
Foutch is also grateful for the quality service from a local telecommunications partner. “With DTC, we have the reliability of fiber and the responsiveness of their service,” he says. “You call DTC, and someone shows up immediately to fix the problem.”
Though it may be hard to believe, Foutch found time for many other adventures as his business grew exponentially. He long list of interests includes hunting, beekeeping and cattle farming. He’s a licensed contractor and in 2013, he starred in an episode of “Doomsday Preppers,” a National Geographic channel reality show.
At 56, Foutch has slowed down a bit. He takes a little more time for vacations, but there’s no shortage of responsibilities to keep him busy. “I always try to work outside the box and solve the problem. I love that I get to work for myself,” he says. “If I’m not successful, it’s my own fault. I never have bad day. I have difficult days and problem-solving days, but not bad day. Ever.”
Content provided with permission by DTC.