With international conflict and further encounters on the rise, the need for security is ever increasing. To address the needs of both the defence sector and that of commercial and private security, the armoured vehicle industry is experiencing a massive global boom. Tom Fleenor heads up an international business specializing in armoured vehicles, and we caught up with him to find out how he drives his business forward in this thriving and competitive industry.
Some estimates suggest that the global armoured vehicle industry will be worth in excess of $28 billion USD by 2019. It is a growing market, with the key drivers being the growing conflicts across the globe. Greater importance is being placed on homeland security in developing countries, as well as increased demand for armoured vehicles in the developing nations. As both internal and external conflicts in developing nations intensify, demand will only increase.
The market hit new heights during the time period between 2007-2012 when American troops were fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. The priority at this point was to maintain the security of the soldiers, and so to protect them from CBRN or mine attacks, armoured vehicles such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) were developed. By 2012, around 42,000 MRAPs had been manufactured, driving an expenditure of $47.7 billion into the industry.
The major market share is within the defence sector in both the United States and Europe, but there is an increasing rate of demand in the Middle East and Africa, which represents the ongoing political tensions from both external countries, and internal threats from rebels. This in turn has been supported by an economic boom in these areas.
The global Armoured vehicle market is currently undergoing huge growth, since it is not only concentrated within the defence sector, but also in the private and commercial sectors. Armoured vehicles are becoming a standard requirement for some business travelers, and even for individual and private use. Although global conflict and political unrest is obviously undesirable, it is also apparently inevitable, and those working within the defence, security and armoured vehicle sectors are seeing a boom in global sales.
Business Worldwide Magazine has an exclusive take on this booming sector from IAC Philippines / TomArmor Systems CEO, Tom Fleenor, one of the industry’s key pioneering figures in the field of armoured vehicles. Based in Utah USA and the Philippines, Fleenor’s background and experience has helped to drive the business forward in what is a fast growing industry across the globe.
HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF WORKING IN THE ARMOURED VEHICLE BUSINESS?
During my early days I worked alongside my family in business endeavors such as sheet metal manufacturing processes, precision painting applications, welding supplies, packaged gas manufacturing, welding and application processes, filling business leadership positions from a very young age. This meant I was able to learn many aspects of business, including finance and meeting consumer needs with on-time delivery, as well as helping identify features and benefits of the sales and marketing concepts within each sector. I quickly discovered that I had an entrepreneurial spirit and quickly learned that by providing value added services to clients and giving them an exceptional product, we could boost our profits.
After my tenure with the family business I went to work for International Armoring Corporation, where I was able to implement welding processes and create proprietary applications processes within the welding or ballistic alloys in the armoured passenger vehicle market. Not only that but I learnt how to maintain relationships as well as develop aggressive marketing campaigns.
HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
In 2011 I established a manufacturing facility in Subic Bay, Philippines on behalf of International Armoring Corporation USA. During its lifetime this operation has built and delivered over 500 armoured vehicles to famous celebrities, political figures and private individuals locally and internationally. These clients are now returning, placing orders for additional units, and we continue to see the demand for our quality products increasing. In 2015 I resigned from IAC and purchased the Philippines operation. This is now under new sole ownership and we have changed the name to IAC Philippines / TomArmor Systems. We are now an independent company.
HOW DID YOU TAKE THE COMPANY FORWARD?
We have been able to restructure the previously failing operation into a positive financial organization by investing in current state of the art technology and new research and development techniques as well as new equipment and materials which are tested, certified and developed to improve quality control, improved delivery times to the end users, application processes as well as development of new proprietary armouring processes and products which will springboard the organization to the next generation of armouring industry. This is just the beginning for IAC Philippines / TomArmor Systems as we will continue to innovate as we have in the past. IAC Philippines / TomArmor Systems uses “Tomorrow’s Armouring Technology Today” As we continue on the path of innovation and the continuation of product development; TATTArmor® lightweight and TATTUltra® ultra-lightweight armouring materials will surely become the sought after armouring materials of the future.
WHAT SETS YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS APART FROM THE COMPETITION?
Tom Fleenor, CEO states that “First and foremost is honesty!!!” Our corporate mission statement is that we produce the finest, most technologically-advanced bullet resistant passenger and specialty vehicles in the world whilst providing a superior service to the end user. Our goals are firstly, to ensure IAC Philippines / TomArmor systems armours the vehicles using the latest technology available and according to the client’s perceived threat. This includes doors, pillar posts, roof, floor, all transparent areas (glass) lateral panels, etc., exceeding internationally ballistic standards of protection. Secondly, it is also important that we maintain the original appearance of each and every vehicle, both inside and out, allowing these vehicles to retain their original look. Finally, in terms of ensuring customer satisfaction, IAC Philippines / TomArmor Systems armour is the lightest and most ballistic-resistant armour in the industry. These goals, together with our “T.E.A.M.” statement, ‘Together Everyone Achieves More,’ and maintaining our “S.T.A.I.R.” values personally and professionally (Stretch, Teamwork, Accountability, Integrity, Respect) keeps us at the forefront of the industry.
TELL US ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO IN YOUR COMMUNITY
In summer of June 2015 there was a horrific accident on Bear Lake, Utah USA – where a boating accident occurred following a sudden unforeseen windstorm, which capsized a boat and sadly impacted upon the lives of several families forever. The children of these families are team-mates on our daughter’s sporting teams, and this prompted us to develop and create a non-profit organization called FLINK, which in short means ‘Strengthening the Family Link after Tragedy.’
This foundation is primarily developed for our local community, states and country where tragedy could strike a family, leaving them without the means to support themselves or manage financially. The FLINK Foundation will assist and support these families in need, thus allowing them to focus on others within the family who are grieving with the burden of loss, and supporting them through a financial strain which would otherwise be present. The FLINK foundation is also supported by my step-children and immediate family, the name was established between our family surnames (Fleenor and Inkley = “FLINK”).