Date Company Founded: 2010
Current Number of Employees: 207 in two countries
What They Do: Manufacture High-Quality Body Armour
While serving in the American Military, Jason Beck always had dreams of creating and designing products. A true entrepreneur, Beck convinced a luggage manufacturer to teach him the ins and outs of high-end sewing. He then parlayed those skills into making and improving his own body armour. This quickly led to fellow soldiers putting in their orders.
Today, Beck has built those initial projects into a global business that closed $24 million in sales at the end of 2015. Specialized and niche manufacturing has seen a tremendous amount of success in recent years, especially as a major source of wealth and job creation. TYR Tactical is now moving into other recreational markets (i.e. hunting) and has just opened a brand new facility in Ottawa with plans to hire two dozen people over the next four months. And their slogan of “Innovate or Die” fits in well with a city that will help be a leader in Canada’s innovation economy. Beck spoke with Invest Ottawa about their product and the services they are using to setup in the nation’s capital.
Without any jargon explain to me what you do?
There really isn’t a simple answer to that question. In black and white terms we manufacture tactical body armor and nylon, but it is so much more than that. We don’t simply make products; we design, engineer, test and evaluate every product before it’s released. As a father of five, protecting our law enforcement and the military is something I take very seriously. Whether it’s because I want them to return to their own children or it’s because they aren’t that much older than some of my own children. With that thinking, every stitch counts.
What was the light bulb moment that sparked the idea?
My background as combative instructor led me to design products that were more ergonomic in early 2000. From there I started to hone my craft and try to work towards becoming a subject matter expert on soft and hard body armor as well as material design and focus on the biomechanical engineering of products that have evolved into our product line.
What kind of problems do you help clients solve?
I have been designing and producing products in my industry for over 17 years now. I have seen the product cycle come full circle a few times and I can assist in steering customers away from things I have seen fail, or provide them first-hand knowledge of why others failed.
For example, take our XFrame™ solution. It’s a “Dynamic Load Carriage System” that enables the wearer to reduce the overall load that is directly placed on their spine by redirecting the weight to their hips and shoulders. We were not asked directly to create it; instead, I evaluated the end user and the weight they had to carry on their body. The solution provided not only increased user function but the reduction of back injuries and overall fatigue. In the short term it increased survivability and in the long term, cuts down on disability costs for a user group.
Niche manufacturers have been a major source of job creation over the last few years, why is it important for TYR to have a specialized, local workforce?
It allows for a continued high-quality standard of manufacturing, continued education within our company and ability to better serve our customers with customized products in key locations.
Why did you decide to expand in Ottawa?
Ottawa has a wide variety of user groups that we have been serving for years. I truly feel that for us to provide an increased level of service and to create a higher standard of both product design and manufacturing for the Canadian market, we needed to be in Ottawa and work directly with the customers that are in this area.
What words would you use to describe the Ottawa Ecosystem?
It’s a city that is interested in developing and aiding entrepreneurs and fostering an environment for them which in turn creates further success for the Ecosystem.
Talk about some of the resources in Ottawa you’re using to grow?
Invest Ottawa connected us with the business resources, government agencies and industry associations that helped us make a “soft landing” in Ottawa as well as free courses which we took advantage of. IRAP provides innovation and funding services. They also assist in accelerating the growth of our business through innovation and technology. We are currently using the Student Employment grant which was offered by IRAP. Employment Ontario assisted with the finding and hiring of skilled employees. We have access to training and apprenticeship programs offered by them. NRC will help us bring the latest technology into Canada as is relates to R&D of body armour.
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