Story last updated at 1/9/2013 - 2:48 pm
1. Please briefly describe your business.
TSS, Inc is a health and safety company, specializing in workplace and community safety. We perform a variety of services that provide for employee and general public wellness and safety.
2. When did your business begin? Did you see a niche to fill; is there a story behind it?
I purchased TSS (Tongass Substance Screening) in 1999. It was quite small and was not functioning as a full service business at that time. My husband and I have owned several businesses in the past and this was a good fit for my ambition. Initially, we rented space from a medical clinic (Then Ketchikan Medical Clinic owned by Dr. David Johnson) and then purchased our own facility in 2003. That building was formally a printing business, so we had a major remodel to accomplish prior to moving in, which was in 2004. Since that time, we've expanded from one location to four, with Alaska offices in Ketchikan, Juneau, Craig and one in Keokuk, Iowa. We've gone from working by myself to employing 12.
3. What is your business's mission, and how do you work to achieve this?
Our mission statement is: World-class education and screening services for workplace and community safety.
Our Core Purpose is: Assisting companies, individuals and communities in achieving the success of their dreams.
Our Core Value Statement is: This organization shall serve as a change-point for all persons. Each function of TSS, Inc., shall be to serve and promote health and well being from within the communities in which we live and work. The focus of TSS, Inc., shall be taking care of each other and our neighbors.
4. How many employees do you have?
12. A good mix of part time and full time. They are truly the greatest assets we have to offer.
5. How do you select them?
We have a fairly rigid interview process that includes two interviews. We also require background and drug screening, due to the sensitive nature of this business. TSS is in the people business and it's so very important that we never forget that.
6. Do you provide service(s) to all of Southeast Alaska?
The nature of our business allows us to work throughout the nation. No matter where a client may be, we are connected to nearly 2,500 collection sites for drug screening and many of our other services can be provided via Internet.
7. Do you provide web sales?
We are now in the process of selecting retail products to add to our newly designed web site. Safety gear is important and the ability to get it from wherever you are, invaluable. You can see the products soon at www. tss-safety.com
8. What are your biggest triumphs?
I believe that I am most proud of the ability to be the change point in a person's life. From cleaning/decontaminating a suicide site to referring parents to the right counseling agency, I love that we can be a good resource for an employer or a mom, when they need it most. TSS staff may not know all the answers, but I'll bet we know someone that does. We focus on helping people, no matter what the situation. Even if it is not something we do, we help to find the right connection.
9. What are your most common hurdles (i.e., shipping)?
Alaska presents its own challenges in lots of areas. But I also think that is what sets Alaska business owners apart from others. We know how to figure something out and are not afraid to do the work to get where we need to go. I believe the largest hurdle I encounter (and what makes me craziest) is getting people to think global, shop local. I believe that even the smallest business owner should think like that. Why not bring those dollars home to Alaska? I work with the mindset that challenges are opportunities. That lets me just run with anything and see how I can make change. I like that.
10. What work practices do you try and maintain in order to serve the community the best that you can?
We use local vendors in each of our locations. I shop in the following order: Local, State, Make Mine A Million Sisters, USA, and then re-think if I really need that product.
11. What might encourage local residents to visit your business, rather than ordering something from a non-local business?
Come visit with us. We're more than pee in a cup. From CPR/First Aid training to Employee Motivation Series, we have something for you. We are a Quest Diagnostics contractor, so you can bring your physician ordered lab request to our offices and the nationally certified phlebotomists of TSS will perform that service. Quickly and efficiently, within 15 minutes.
12. What are your favorite things about your business?
Since we've been around awhile, I've been able to amass a great crew that allows me the opportunity to do some other things. I serve on the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and am the current chair of the Alaska State Chamber. With quality staffing, I have the pleasure and honor to reach out and do more things for more people. It's a strong extension of my business and one that my staff and I take very seriously. We, as a company, are very active in community activities. Red Ribbon Week, Community Health Fairs and many other committees are among what the TSS staff participates in. We are not idle.
13. Are there any interesting facts or information that the community might not know about your business?
Most people don't know that we clean crime and trauma scenes. We are trained professionals in that field. While I hope you never need us for that service, I also pray that a family member or co-worker never has to experience the vision of a suicide scene. When a person is experiencing such a horrific loss, one should never have to have second trauma. We can assist in preventing that, by returning the scene to pre-event status. This service is often covered by homeowner insurance, which is something else most folks don't know. I hope you never need it. But if you do, call 911, then call me.
14. Where do you see your business in 5, 10 years?
I am working hard to grow into the next stage. I wish we could guarantee that all persons understood the seriousness of drug use. And would avoid it. Unfortunately, that is a dream that I do not foresee being realized. So until then, we'll continue to work hard on reducing the substance abuse problem via appropriate screening. It is my personal goal to spend more time in the arena of public speaking in the inspirational motivation field. It's my business goal to expand our services to include a broader scope of safety training. We'll be there sooner than 5 years. Ten years? Who knows. The serial entrepreneur in me cannot commit to anything that far out!!
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