T. Clear Corporation
- Written by: Dave Mason
- Produced by: Ziana Merlim
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Founded by Ted and Mary Clear as Fin Pan Inc. in 1975, T. Clear Corporation, based in Hamilton, Ohio, has built its estimable reputation on a foundation of providing high quality, energy efficient and durable products to all facets of the residential and commercial building markets.
But there is much more to the T. Clear story than above and below ground structural insulated panel systems and concrete backer board. The company story is one of innovation, cooperative partnership, vision, environmental stewardship and commitment to a common goal.
Ahead of the curve
Ted and Mary were ahead of their time, making products that were environmentally sensitive, through their energy efficiency, long before green manufacturing was a thing and sustainability was little more than a corporate buzzword used to placate small but increasingly vocal environmental action groups.
Through the early 1970s, construction interests typically revolved around improving the durability and ease of construction for roofs and building exteriors, with energy efficiency often overlooked.
But as energy costs began to rise through those same well-protected roofs and walls, suddenly the products that T. Clear had been manufacturing for years became popular and demand grew.
The tough blends of concrete and polystyrene insulation not only wore well over time, they also made the products sustainable and energy efficient—so much so that they far exceeded the energy efficiency specifications set forth by the International Code Council (ICC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
A family affair
Ted and Mary continued to lead the company into their 90s. Mary died a short time ago and Ted, although retired and 91 years of age, still drops in from time to time with a suggestion or insight.
It wasn’t until about a year ago that the third generation of the Hamilton, Ohio-based parent company took the reins. Cousins Ryan Schaffer and Jason Clear brought vitality and vision to their respective roles as CEO and president.
“I really enjoy the youthful, energetic culture in the company,” says Steve Confer, national sales manager for T. Clear since 2015. “They are both growth-minded leaders who stress the importance of clear communication, collegiality and working in concert toward a common goal. I was immediately impressed by their passion and vision.”
Although raised in the company, it first seemed as if the cousins would follow different career paths. Both went away to college and graduated with engineering degrees. Ryan worked in the automobile industry (design and engineering) until Ted approached him with ideas for the business. Ryan shared a few suggestions of his own and then decided to leave his job in Michigan and return home to Ohio and a new career.
Jason left college with a degree in civil engineering, working with concrete before starting his own construction company. When the housing market crashed, he opted to shutter the business and find something else to do.
At the helm of T. Clear, the cousins have worked to expand the product line, emphasizing ease of use for contractors, even providing training and manuals on how to use T. Clear products.
Those products include LightGUARD and HeavyGUARD, rooftop insulation panels said to mitigate potential moisture issues while adding durability and R-value; ProGUARD DP, a lightweight insulated concrete board with residential and commercial applications; ProGUARD, or non-structural concrete insulated sheathing; WallGUARD, concrete-faced, insulated perimeter wall panels; ThermaDRY, insulating drainage panels; and ProTEC C-SIP, a concrete, structural panel system that replaces lumber framing systems.
LightGUARD, HeavyGUARD, WallGUARD and ThermaDRY all use Dow Chemical’s Styrofoam XPS Insulation, providing what Dow says is superior “strength, durability, moisture resistance, and thermal performance.”
How to expand
The company looks to employees to disseminate information. “Everyone who works here is quite knowledgeable about all the parts and pieces,” says Jason. “The employees are here because they want to be here. They take great pride in the company’s success.”
“We welcome new ideas from every employee and value their input. Everyone here is family. That’s why we have folks who have been working here for decades,” adds Ryan.
The cousins say it’s tempting to sit back and enjoy how far the company has come. Perhaps, then, their most significant challenge is avoiding stagnation. That’s why they are constantly looking for ways to redefine the company.
While the products are top quality, priced competitively and made in the U.S., the cousins say what sets T. Clear apart—along with a history of innovation—is a commitment to promoting sustainability through durability.
“We want to make products that are going to last a very, very long time,” says Jason. “We already have projects out there that are 37 or 38 years old and still performing perfectly. We realize this isn’t the classic business model. The fact is, we lose repeat business because we manufacture superior products that don’t degrade over long periods of time.”
“It’s a tradeoff we’re happy to make,” adds Ryan. “In the end it’s about your good name. This how we were raised. Your good name is your most important possession. Don’t worry about losing repeat business because the product is still performing.”
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