A Final Gift Before Dying

TWR’s Tom Moore made key hires at his Chicago plating shop before passing away.

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Tom Moore didn’t know he was dying when he came up with the idea to bring new leadership to his plating shop in Shaumburg, Illinois, more than a decade ago.

Tom felt that to keep TWR Service Corp.—a high-tech plating facility that specialized in electroless nickel and other precious metal coatings—vibrant heading into the year 2000 and beyond, he needed to bring new blood into the business that he ran with partner Del Linderman.

“My dad was a visionary,” Dan Moore, Tom’s son and now president of TWR, says. “He wanted to be the smartest guy in the room, but he was just smart enough to know when he wasn’t.”

Tom died in 2003 after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He started out in 1999 looking for the right people to help him and Del grow the plating shop, beginning the search in the place he felt most comfortable, his place of worship at Des Plaines Bible Church.

But two things happened that altered everything. The first was that TWR’s shop in Rosemont, Illinois, was being forced out to make way for new construction, and the second was that Tom began to sense that something was wrong with his body. ALS has devastating consequences including the inability to move any part of your body, and at its worst, the inability to speak or communicate with anything but the eyes, as well as a complete reliance on a feeding tube for nutrition.

Before ALS took him off his feet, Tom took a walk with fellow parishioner Scott Hiestand, who was four years out of college with a degree in business management and marketing and working in customer service. Tom convinced Scott to join TWR and take over the office management and bookkeeping.

Tom never was a chemistry guy, Dan says, and he often struggled with the complex chemical part of the plating business. At a Bible study meeting one day, he met Jim Cwik, a chemistry major in college who spent a year in Africa with the Peace Corps teaching English, and asked him to join the TWR team. Jim is now the quality control manager, handling all the finicky electroless nickel chemistry and working through solutions with customers.

And then there was Tim Peterson, to whom Tom had sold his former company—a roofing installation firm—when he purchased TWR in 1991. Knowing the kind of quality guy Tim was, Tom pried him from the roofing company to become TWR’s plant manager.

When Tom finally had the leadership team in place—Scott with the books, Jim with the chemistry and Tim running the plant, Dan in customer service, and Del overseeing it all—he was happy knowing that he had assembled the best management group he could put together.

And then Tom passed away in 2003. The management team went into action to keep TWR running, the customers happy and the 11 other staffers gainfully employed. It worked just as Tom planned, especially because Del was still involved, and customers and staff loved Del and what he stood for.

“It wasn’t so much Tom knew he was leaving us all because he started the hiring just before he got sick, and then Jim and Tim after he was sick,” Dan says. “He just knew this was best for the business to bring on quality guys to work with Del. He used to say if you had good people around, then shoveling manure could be fun.”

After more than five years with TWR, Dan left the company shortly after Tom’s passing.  He worked on completing his education and took on several key jobs to gain more experience, including being a customer service manager for another metal finishing business.  As it turned out, this created a near perfect resume for Dan to return to TWR in 2012 when Del announced his retirement.

“I had set out to learn as much as I could about leadership, and at the same time wound up building a strong foundation on which to run TWR,” Dan said.

The TWR team has made tremendous strides in the past three years, especially with the help of key people that Tom knew in his years running the shop. Joelie Zak of Scientific Control Labs has worked with TWR for more than two decades. Boules Morcos of MacDermid helped on the technical side of plating. Jeff Filippelli of Viking Chemical was also instrumental in guiding Dan, who led the team through not only ISO9001 registration, but ISO 13485 Medical and AS9100C aerospace.  They added new finishes and rebranded the company.  With help from their vendors, the right changes were made and TWR is growing.

“I am blessed to be where I am and working in a situation that my dad and Del set up so well,” Dan says. “I know how much my dad loved the challenge of running his company, and to be able to take on that challenge is a thrill.”

Originally published in the August 2015 issue.

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