July 10, 2017
Executive Profile

Matulaniec leads TOMZ Corp.'s youth movement

HBJ PHOTO | John Stearns
HBJ PHOTO | John Stearns
Tom Matulaniec stands next to an X-Ray showing a spine treated with implanted rods and screws made by TOMZ Corp.

VIEW: Executive Profile: Tom Matulaniec

Tom Matulaniec

President, TOMZ Corp., Berlin.

Highest education: Bachelor's in sociology, University of Connecticut, 2008.

Executive insights:

Stay true to your roots, work hard, do the best you can as quickly as you can and the most efficiently you can, and keep moving, innovating and growing.

Tom Matulaniec was 8 when he began helping his father at his Berlin company, TOMZ Corp., launching a 23-year journey that in April would see him named president of the manufacturer specializing in implantable parts for the medical industry.

"I joke it's the longest anyone's waited for a promotion," said Matulaniec, 31.

TOMZ represents initials of Matulaniec family members: Tom; sister, Ola; mother, Maria; and father, Zbig, who started the company in 1988 and is CEO, but at 65, has largely handed operating reins to his son. Ola and Maria do not work in the business.

TOMZ specializes in making implantable spinal-fixation systems, including screws, hooks, rods and connectors used to treat scoliosis and trauma patients, but has broadened into screws and other parts for hand, wrist, foot and ankle surgeries, machining precision parts out of titanium, cobalt-chrome and stainless steel. It also makes parts for laboratory diagnostic equipment and, to a lesser extent, aerospace.

Matulaniec, however, is focused on growing the medical business, making parts for industry leading global OEMs.

"I don't see any other market that has the growth rate medical does," he said.

While new as president, Matulaniec began taking charge several years ago on how TOMZ markets to customers and potential employees. Becoming a vice president in 2010, he noted there really wasn't a sales team, little marketing or web presence and no social presence.

"The previous generation was, 'Hey, it's all word of mouth, we don't need all that, our actions speak louder than words,' " he said.

But Matulaniec emphasized a need to appeal to changing generations of customers and employees. His initial move was to revamp an old brochure and website to something modern, attractive and appealing to a younger generation.

"The idea I had was I'm going to bring myself to you and the only way to do that these days is virtual reality," Matulaniec said.

TOMZ shot a VR tour of its facility, which it shows on a PlayStation 4 at trade shows and job fairs. It also sends TOMZ-branded Google Cardboard VR glasses to people who launch the TOMZ VR tour on their smartphone, place it in the cardboard viewer and take the tour.

"This is now something that we send as our marketing brochure," Matulaniec said of the TOMZ VR viewer "and the feedback we've gotten is, 'This is the best business card I've ever seen.' "

At job fairs, the VR experience gets attention with youth, who see a machine shop that isn't boring and dirty, said Matulaniec, who's constantly looking for CNC machinists.

While some parents may perceive manufacturing as dirty, smelly and dangerous and try to dissuade children from the industry, that's far from the case at TOMZ, where the floor is "75 and sunny 365 days a year." And very clean.

Jobs are well-paying, too. With more work than operators, typical weeks are six days and 55 hours, meaning entry-level CNC operators can make $75,000 a year, including overtime. The company has 150-plus employees in its 95,000-square-foot facility.

TOMZ has its own training class and copyrighted training program; additionally, it is donating a turning machine to Goodwin College in a new partnership that Matulaniec hopes will create a larger pipeline of CNC operators.

Further extending its outreach, TOMZ in June attended its first trade show where it also gave its VR tour.

Matulaniec said his father now sees the benefits of his approach to marketing and recruitment, and they complement each other.

"It's good because he pulls me back when I have this crazy, wild idea and I push him forward when he's like, 'No, no, no,' so it works," Matulaniec said.

Gina Rondini, 24-year TOMZ receptionist, has watched Matulaniec grow from a child to company president, along with his vision.

"He knows what he wants, what his sights are for the company," Rondini said. "He's got very, very modern ideas."

TOMZ also demonstrated vision installing a 1.1-megawatt solar array last July on its roof and adjacent 5-acre property for possible future expansion.

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