Tumi Holdings, Inc., is a South Plainfield, New Jersey-based manufacturer of suitcases and bags for travel. We spoke to the firm’s CFO Mike Mardy about the firm and the role he has played in its success.
Tumi is a lifestyle travel brand that operates 177 company-owned retail outlets around the world, with a focus on North America and Western Europe. Our products are sold in over 1500 stores globally. Around 44% of our products are luggage; the remainder of our product offering is bags and travel accessories such as wallets, technology, Mjackets and toiletry kits.
As a business we pride ourselves on offering quality products that will stand the test of regular travel, as well as offering customer service that is second to none. When a client buys a Tumi product we take care of them for as long as that product is in their possession. We are renowned as a business travel brand, because clients who are traveling rely on the high quality of our brands to see them through when they are regularly making business trips.
This quality and drive towards excellent customer service has provided the firm with an extremely high customer promotion score, with clients positively responding to our brand on consumer surveys. In order to ensure we are consistently delivering these high standards we conduct rigorous research, asking our customers about various aspects of new products so our products are meeting their exact needs. We also conduct research within the wider industry to see what potential Tumi customers think of the brand. We often find that once we have explained the benefits, we are able to easily convert potential clients to our products because of their quality and functionality.
The international travel accessories market is worth around $30bn, and with a valuation of around $0.5bn Tumi, although not an insignificant player in the industry is still relatively small. However the firm has been growing its top line at around 15% to 20% compound annual growth rate for several years, and our bottom line has also grown during this time.
Working in the retail and travel industries we have to be aware of many different factors. For example, we need to be aware of customer shopping patterns, and trends in suitcase purchasing. We also have to be aware of restrictions within the airline industry, such as limits on the size of cases. In addition, as we are a premium brand, we have to pay close attention to the stock markets around the world, as the financial outlook in each region will determine the travel habits of its citizens. My role within the firm is multi-faceted, and I am currently Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and a member of the Board of Directors, and I also oversee the operations team and IT team of the business as well. My role encompasses a number of the attributes of a Chief Operations Officer, and I have been working with the firm since 2003, providing me with a vast experience of the company and strong background knowledge of how it operates.
During my time at Tumi, I also served on the Board of Directors of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, where I acted as audit committee Chair and a Member of the Compensation Committee. I have also previously served as Interim Chairman of the Board at GMCR, and on the Board of Directors of ModusLink Global Solutions where I was Audit Committee Chair and served on the Compensation and Governance Committees.
My career initially started as a professional basketball player after University, and I was lucky to be able to play in Europe. I taught History at secondary school and attended Graduate school before eventually attending business school. After graduating I worked for PwC for five years, before being hired by one of my clients.
Later in my career I became CFO for one of the largest suppliers to McDonald’s in the world, travelling around the globe and gaining a vast amount of valuable experience.
I was then hired by the private equity firm which had just purchased Tumi to assist the firm through a tough period, and have since, helped Tumi to not only overcome its initial problems but to grow from a $90mn turnover per year to the $600mn it obtains per annum currently. This rapid growth has helped the firm to pay off the vast amount of debt which we were in when I first started, and this enabled us to open many of our retail outlets.
Throughout my career I would say that my work with Tumi has been the most enjoyable, as I have not only been able to help rescue the company, but to help it to expand and provide jobs for many people around the world. I am motivated because I really enjoy what I do, and I like the people I work with, and I am proud to have provided a better standard of living both for our consumers and those who work with and for the business. Ultimately I view my role now the same way I viewed my athletic career: as a labor of love. I truly enjoy what I do, which is how I have been able to excel in it and perform to the best of my ability.
Looking to the future, the firm is aiming to become a billion dollar business, as well as increase our exposure to new global markets such as Asia. I personally believe that the brand has a strong future ahead of it.
With regards to my personal career, I have been proud of my association with Tumi, and am working to make the brand an even bigger success. I will continue to do work as a board advisor in the public arena.
Overall I feel honored to have been given this prestigious accolade and am proud of the work I have done with Tumi, and look forward to an exciting future.
Company: Tumi Holdings, Inc.
Phone: 0800 145 6069