Made in Connecticut: TorqMaster, Inc.
Each month, we profile a Connecticut manufacturer, showcasing the ingenuity and innovation driving the state’s economy. For October, we spoke with Gary Bebell, the president of TorqMaster, Inc., based in Stamford.
When was your company founded?
The original core company started about 1981. TorqMaster became a separate product line in 1986 and then became an independent company in 1997.
How many employees work for your company?
We currently have 25 employees.
What products does your company manufacture? Who are your customers?
TorqMaster is a friction hinge manufacturer. Friction hinges are also called torque hinges and positioning hinges.
The most common example of this are the hinges in a notebook computer. The user can adjust the screen to any angle and when let go, the screen stays in position.
TorqMaster is considered a niche OEM mechanical parts manufacturer. We design and produce all of our own models here in Stamford.
Our friction hinges are sold to original equipment manufacturers and can be found in medical monitors, electronics, lab equipment, instruments, vehicles, aircraft displays, seats and tray tables, server racks, and printers.
We ship globally, with a high percentage of exports to countries that do contract manufacturing for U.S. companies.
We are ISO 9001:2015 registered and all hinges are RoHS and REACH compliant.
Why did you choose manufacturing ?
The original concept was to produce as item using proprietary technology and the main technical founder came from a manufacturing background.
Our focus became mechanical products and the engineering and design staff we hired all came from a mechanical manufacturing background.
What makes your company unique?
We are unique because we are one of the only manufacturers that specializes in and produces just this niche product.
We are experts in this field and pride ourselves on being able to dial in exactly what our OEM customers ask for, be it a standard product or something semi-custom or custom.
Why did you choose Connecticut?
The company started in Stamford, Connecticut because the original entrepreneur/financier was in Manhattan and a group of engineers needed to relocate relatively close, as well as find low-cost manufacturing space. (Keep in mind this was 1981. Now of course, Stamford has very little manufacturing space and costs are extremely high as much has been transformed into high rise apartments and offices.)
We are lucky to remain in the same space we have been in since 1992.
What is the greatest advantage to operating in Connecticut ?
I would say access to high quality employees and services. We are also fortunate that our area of Stamford has employees willing to work in manual, light manufacturing assembly.
Where do you see your company in five years? Ten years?
Our main goal is to add sales revenue. We have substantially increased our web marketing efforts and spending to help achieve that.
The target is to be found and sourced by engineers at large OEMs working on new products. Typical sales cycles are well over a year, but with a win, a project could have a production life of many years.
Therefore, if we are able to add enough new business while the underlying business continues, we see growth in our future.
What’s the main thing policymakers could implement to make your company more competitive?
TorqMaster competes globally with other manufacturers, both directly with some that make a similar functional product, as well as competing with the contract manufacturer’s own in-house capability.
Most of our large U.S.-based customers have us ship our hinges overseas to their contract manufacturing partner. Therefore, we are highly cost concerned.
All costs that Connecticut has put upon us hurts our ability to compete globally.
This includes minimum wage increases, medical insurance costs, state income taxes, the new paid leave tax, etc.
We are forced to run extremely lean on all overheads and are forced to buy from more and more sub-suppliers outside of Connecticut.
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