Name: Tiger Mountain Innovations, LLC
CEO: Ameé Quiriconi
2009 Revenue: Under $1 million
Tiger Mountain Innovations produces eco-friendly countertop and tile materials. Under its two product lines, Squak Mountain Stone and Trinity Glass Products, the company manufactures materials that give customers the look and feel of natural stone without generating a negative impact on the environment. In addition to residential kitchen and bath owners, the company counts Whole Foods, Starbucks and Fred Segal Green as customers.
Click through the slides as company founder and CEO Ameé Quiriconi shares the story of Tiger Mountain Innovation.
Q: What drove you to launch a company that manufactures domestically?
A: The idea for Tiger Mountain Innovations was sparked in 2003 during a master’s degree assignment about creating healthy, local economies. My challenge was to create a theoretical product that would strengthen local economies, provide a social benefit to communities and be eco-friendly. I submitted the master’s paper and received my degree and continued to think about how I could make this concept work. I set out with some lofty, but attainable objectives that became the basis for our product and company philosophy.
Q: What is one of the biggest challenges to growth as your company moves forward?
A: There are many larger, foreign-based companies utilizing less expensive technology that are making “recycled” products at somewhat lower costs. To the average consumer, all “recycled content” is the same. But, the problem is that when a customer chooses the less expensive recycled option and not the one Made in the USA, then they are not really making a choice that helps the U.S. innovate and find ways to take care of our own waste stream problems. Putting their dollars into a foreign-made recycled content countertop helps say, Spain, get rid of their waste and recycle but doesn’t complete the loop here in the U.S. Why bother putting your beer bottles and mayo jars on the curb if you don’t buy the products made with them?
Q: What is the biggest challenge to maintaining manufacturing in America?
A: We don’t perceive any challenges to keeping our manufacturing domestic. How large we can become is our biggest challenge. But to compete on a large scale by giving up our principles as a business and moving our company outside the U.S. is not an option. We’d rather stay small and genuine and participate in process of finding ways to recycle our domestic waste the best we can by staying the U.S.
Q: Where is there opportunity in the market for your products?
A: According to the latest Freeman study on the countertop market, the entire market will see some modest growth with the largest growing segment being in the high-end materials, such as natural and engineered stones. Additionally, at the 2010 Urban Land Institute Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C., recently, it was presented that although green housing and construction has leveled off, it will be making a comeback, particularly with consumers looking for smaller homes but with higher quality green finishes.
Q: What is your company doing to promote domestic manufacturing?
A: I speak often on the topic of “local economies” around the Seattle area with high school students to MBAs. Most recently I spoke at an entrepreneur’s conference for University of Washington business school students and alumni and at the Evergreen Building Products Association “Green Building Materials” Workshop.
An in-depth look at small businesses that are choosing to keep their business in the states and what that means for their bottom line.