Lots of Memphis entrepreneurs have surpassed $15 million in annual sales, but few have done so as fast as Robert Kenyon.
A machinist by trade, Kenyon has guided medical device maker Titan Medical Manufacturing over the $15 million level and is closing in on $20 million — all within seven years
Originally located on Memphis' east side in a 12,000 square-foot facility, the company moved in 2014 to Bartlett, locating in a 51,640-square-foot plant big enough to contain more production machinery
"I believe this was the catalyst which gave us momentum to move forward at a rapid pace," Kenyon said.
During the relocation, three large contracts came in allowing the firm to make use of new Five Axis Mills and Swiss Screw Machines that they were not able to have before due to space restrictions.
Kenyon also credits the success of the company to his employees and customers.
"Our success as a company is because we have the right people at the right places to work together as a team," Kenyon said. "That's how we win."
Titan has seen a rapid growth in staff. In 2014, Titan Medical had 42 employees, compared to 68 this year in areas including machining, finishing, inspection, packaging and shipping. Most employees are hired from local technical schools and provided on-the-job training.
"We want to build a strong company and in doing that you employ more people," Kenyon said. "It's for the betterment of the community."
Before founding Titan, Kenyon joined a group of local business people in 2003 to create Engineered Medical Systems, one of Bartlett's largest medical device manufacturing employers. He sold his part of the business in 2007 and founded Titan Medical Manufacturing in 2009.
Titan, he said, has exceeded what he wanted when he started. His original plan was to open a small shop so that it would be more manageable.
Titan counts about 20 customers including Memphis-area medical device makers Medtronic, NuVasive, Smith & Nephew and Wright Medical. The firm also has an international connection, shipping to a branch of Smith & Nephew in Switzerland.
As a teenager, Kenyon never imagined he would head a multimillion dollar medical device manufacturing company.
He grew up on a farm, eventually went to high school in Jackson, Tennessee, liked math and science and fell in love with machining through the school's six-week vocational program.
"It was just fascinating," Kenyon said.
In 1977, Kenyon began his career as a machinist for a defense contractor near Dallas. Over the years different Texas and Tennessee job shops employed him, but he wasn't introduced to the medical device industry until 1995 when he took a job with Premier Tool in Bartlett. Starting as a machinist he became general manager within three years.
"It's a labor of love," Kenyon said. "I don't think many people get to do what they love for a living, but I do."
Kenyon was recognized by the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce in June as the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year.
His focus now, he said: Growing Titan sales to $25 million.
By Sydney Neely, firstname.lastname@example.org