Shane Cossette is the chief operating officer of T.R.S. Industries, a Fargo, N.D.-based manufacturer and servicer of tarps and tarp systems. A business that began in Cossette’s grandparents’ garage in 1983, T.R.S. Industries has since grown into a company that employs 47 workers in a location just shy of 70,000 square feet. Here, Cossette shares his thoughts about the industry, the business challenges he faces and the biggest reward that keeps him coming back for more.
How did you get involved in the company/industry?
I got involved as a teenager just wanting to make some money for my hobbies, but I grew to love the industry. I have been working here full time for 26 years and worked part-time while growing up through school.
I have been here every step as we have grown to what we are today. I now oversee most of the daily operations and will still get involved in most everything from sales to purchasing.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
My biggest challenge is today’s workforce. Getting everyone to show up on a daily basis during our busy season can be a struggle. It can make it difficult to meet our deadlines, which can push back our lead time even more. We are very dependent on our workers since we manufacture 95 percent of what we sell. Fargo has a very low unemployment rate so we are constantly looking for workers who can improve our team. I have a great core of leaders in the shop and that helps us through those more challenging times.
What are the biggest rewards?
The thing I have always loved about my job is making the customers happy. They have always driven me to provide quality products and service.
What do you anticipate for your industry in the next five years? Ten?
I have seen so many changes throughout the years that literally cover so many industries that it is difficult to predict what is in store for us. We are very easy to work with and do our best to adapt to whatever is in store for us.
Why did you join IFAI? Which services/benefits do you use the most?
My folks joined IFAI to stay on top of what is new in the industry. Attending the Expos has helped us learn about products and equipment to help us grow. I think Specialty Fabrics Review magazine is a great monthly source of information that we definitely benefit from reading.
What has been the most significant invention/technology you’ve observed in your life so far?
Automation has been huge for our business. The accuracy and efficiency has really helped us grow the business over the years.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The customer is always right.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I enjoy spending time at the lake in the summer with family and getting in a round of golf when I can. Winters here are long, but I like to take my family to local sporting events like hockey games and we all root for the Minnesota Wild and the Vikings.