Pulse December 2015 - Page 64

SUCCESS STORIES Inspiring Tales of Startups, Growth and Overcoming Hardships From Small-town to Global Brand STEWART GRIFFITH TouchAmerica Inc. • Mebane, North Carolina S ometimes, a business opportunity may be sparked by a stroke of romantic serendipity. This is how the TouchAmerica Inc. story was born. The idea for the business came when TouchAmerica Inc. President Stewart Griffith first met his wife Robin Zill at a party. “She had just become a massage therapist and didn’t have a massage table,” Griffith recalls. “So I offered to build her a portable massage table—hoping to get a date!” Filling the Gap The couple soon saw a business opportunity to serve a young but growing spa industry in the early 1980s. Griffith and Zill eventually decided to take advantage of the burgeoning spa industry and launched TouchAmerica Inc. in 1983. “TouchAmerica Inc. identified the need for quality massage tables and spa equipment,” Griffith says. “We knew we were uniquely positioned to serve this booming market.” Today, the company has grown from a small-town portable massage table manufacturer into a global supplier of wellness furniture and equipment. Aside from its factory located in North Carolina, the company also has international partners, specifically in China, as part of its global expansion strategy. TouchAmerica Inc. has teamed up with Double Dragon Furniture Factory to provide outside U.S. clientele original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and customized products and solutions. “Beyond manufacturing, we have become a 360-degree solutions provider for longtime customers like Aveda, Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. We are honored these high-profile companies look to us to offer innovative ways to bring spa and wellness services to the public,” he says. Focus on Sustainability TouchAmerica Inc. and its overseas operation, Touch International, strive to embrace sustainability in all aspects of its operations. “From the original TouchAmerica Inc. massage table made 62 PULSE n December 2015 from a salvaged shipping pallet, to our first manufacturing facility located in a re-commissioned textile mill, we have a deep commitment to preserving the environment,” Griffith says. “At the request of our longtime clients Estee Lauder, Aveda and L’Oreal, TouchAmerica and Touch International are frequently audited for environmental and social compliance. We always pass with flying colors!” One of the most challenging times for the company, and for Griffith personally, was the passing of Robin, his wife of 25 years. “Robin’s passing in 2007 from cancer was pivotal for the entire company,” Griffith says. “Robin was a driving force in the spa industry. A founding ISPA Board member, she holds the title of being the only spa professional to be honored with both the ISPA Visionary Award and ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award.” Continuing the Legacy Carrying on her mother’s legacy of social consciousness is daughter Aubrey, who is the driving force behind GlobalTouch Program, TouchAmerica Inc.’s charitable initiative. “I’m proud that my son, Hart, and daughter, Aubrey, are part of the business, continuing on the path Robin and I forged with that first massage table more than 30 years ago,” Griffith says. To help envision creative wellness solutions for spas, salons, lodging and retail, the company formed an advisory board. “The board represents the top echelon of spa developers, designers, architects, operators and suppliers—including former ISPA Chairman Deborah Waldvogel, current ISPA Board member Blake Feeney, and former ISPA Board members Cheryl Hartsough, Thor Holm and Diane Trieste,” he says. When it comes to secret to longe