Nadine Cino never intended to be an inventor. “My background is in fashion design,” she explains. “Years back I was moving my design studio and personal contents from one place to another, and I got everything I deserved when I hired the low-price mover.”
The wheels started turning and a private rant became the basis for the business that Tyga-Box Systems (TBS) is today. “I was throwing these cardboard boxes in the incinerator,” she elaborates. “All I could think of was this beautiful tree somewhere in the Northwest that somebody chopped down and floated down the stream only to be trucked out, tossed in an acid bath, turned into cardboard and shipped across the country for me to use once, moving my pencils. What a colossal waste of life.”
Nadine goes on to note that is how TBS began. “My partner in life and in business is Marty Spindel,” she elaborates. “We are a quasi-husband-and-wife team. We aren’t married, but we have been in a relationship for 34 years. Neither of us had any experience in running a commodity-based business. We had no business plan and really, we had nothing but passion. In retrospect, knowing what I know about business now, I can see that sometimes you just have to go with your gut and take your chances. You make it happen, because you’re too stupid to know you can’t. Passion and perseverance can uplift you. After almost facing bankruptcy three times and losing our lifesavings the first time around, it was still worth it. If we didn’t do it, someone else would have. Years down the line we would have seen someone else right where we are now and we don’t subscribe to the woulda-coulda-shoulda.”
Thinking Inside the Box
The driving concept behind the TBS brand began as a desire to eliminate the waste that comes from moving. In the beginning, Nadine and Marty rented out totes. “We were working with residential customers,” Nadine explains. “People loved the idea, but our order sizes were too small to make the business work. We decided to go to the commercial market, because corporate clients needed large quantities of our boxes, and we could more easily cover the cost of delivery and pickup services. We ended up in office moving, which is very different from residential, because companies tend to move over a single weekend and a tremendous amount of files and furniture needs to be moved in a short window of time.”
Again, the totes proved popular, but there were two major issues. First, none of the pre-manufactured totes were quite the right size for file folders, office supplies, accessories and personal belongings. Second, people would have to move a box several times before even putting it on a dolly.
“We’re outsiders, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you can put the box on the dolly before packing it, you never have to lift a filled, heavy box,” she explains. “We were working with the corporate clients’ moving companies and we asked, ‘Why don’t you bring a dolly a couple of weeks ahead of time?’ That didn’t go over well. Movers were concerned that they’d be stolen and there wouldn’t be any dollies there by the time the move came around. So Marty and I were determined to design a dolly that was theft-proof and useless for moving anything other than a Tyga-Box.”
Nadine and Marty soon set about the task of designing a dolly for the Tyga-Box. With some foam core board, a ruler and an Exacto-Knife, Marty constructed the prototype for a bottomless dolly that would suspend boxes stacked atop it, designed like four mini-bridges connected to each other by four exterior swivel casters. The new boxes, designed to fit the dolly, are the perfect size for file folders and even come with built-in file rails to keep everything upright.
“Unbeknownst to us, we had just standardized the commercial moving process,” Nadine explains. “Everything is easy. You put your box on the dolly, pack it, put another box on and pack it and so on. Everything is on wheels from the get-go. It’s easy to transport and while you pack, you can push the dolly from the filing cabinets to a cubicle. It also keeps everything organized. You pack things together from a group at origin. Moved as a group, everything is in the right order for unpacking at the next destination.”
Mean, Green Moving Machines
The first-generation Tyga-Box was constructed completely of virgin resin, which is recyclable. “That was 15 years ago,” explains Nadine. “Post-consumer regrind resins were not as readily available. As a business founded on reducing landfill waste, the first generation could be recycled, but we are stepping it up with our newer boxes. We are transitioning to 100 percent post-consumer regrind. That is all of the plastic people recycle at home, like bleach bottles, food containers and all that. It gets crammed together and reshaped. We are moving away from virgin material, even though it is recyclable. Using 100 percent regrind allows us to actively divert waste from the landfill rather than just avoiding filling landfill with corrugated cardboard, which are not recycled. About 27 percent of corrugated boxes end up in the landfill anyway, even though the stated goal is to recycle.”
Of course, Nadine is no longer a stranger to the industry. “A lot of recyclable material is shipped abroad, too,” she continues. “Just looking at the sustainability impact, shipping our waste off to China leaves a huge carbon footprint. Recycling is not a huge sustainable benefit. Sustainability is a life-cycle value, not a line-item cost per se. The biggest issue we faced in the beginning was to demonstrate a line-item cost reduction on the very first transaction derived from Tyga-Box’s life-cycle value. Because a Tyga-Box is 20-times stronger than a corrugated box, it can stack five high versus three high in a stack, which will remain below eye level and for safe pushing. By reducing the number of stacks pushed to the moving truck, we have cut down time and reduced our customers’ moving costs by 30 percent. We are propelling our green product with an economic carrot. If you talk about the Jerry Maguire kind of green first, people are more apt to listen.”
TBS continues to mold the moving business through new advances that offer a more efficient process. The team is currently bringing a new, game-changing technology to the market that will help movers and customers manage the process and keep track of all the important bits and pieces. The new product, the Tyga-Trax system, is moving toward beta testing with a few select major moving companies, such as Moving Masters in the Washington, D.C., area. The company’s growth has required innovation in tracking. As the team spreads Tyga-Boxes across the country, it is vital to keep assets in the system.
“Keeping track of your inventory can be difficult in the rental business,” Nadine explains, “Especially when taking the brand nationally. We have been dreaming about an electronic tracking system for over a decade and impatiently waiting for technology to catch up.”
With some support from Bank of America, TBS teamed up with Andromeda Systems Incorporated, a highly qualified engineering and software development firm, to design the Tyga-Trax mobile electronic tracking system. “This really is a game-changer,” Nadine continues. “What we have goes beyond asset tracking. Our clients can manage the whole process electronically and see an unbroken chain of custody report showing real-time information. We are planning to develop a badge system for movers, so you know where your stuff is and who is touching it. Our clients will be able to see multiple jobs with the swipe of a finger on a smartphone. Everything is cloud-based, meaning our clients can access it anywhere, anytime. It’s like FedEx on steroids.”
TBS continues to grow, integrating new technology and improved products into modern moving practices. For innovation and growth, several organizations have awarded the company for excellence in business. Most recently, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce recognized Nadine as one of three International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge business leaders in the United States. The crew also received a scholarship from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) for training on new technology in 2013.
Nadine and Marty have put together a unique business plan, infiltrating a major niche in the business world. For that, Nadine thanks her dedicated crew. “My team is the best,” she explains. “The people I work with are the reason I show up every morning. It’s not all about the business. I mean, cash flow is important and there is no question about that, but the team makes everything run. They are all awesome. Their personal dreams align with our corporate dreams. Everyone here cares about creating a sustainable impact. In turn, we want them to be able to have a secure job so they can grow their families and send their children to good schools. We have total alignment and that’s what I love about being the CEO. I get to create a rhythm around everything.”
As Nadine and Marty keep pounding out the beat of the business, Tyga-Box Systems continually presents a force in innovative moving technology and products, and will soon be known globally as the source of effortless moving.
For more information about Tyga-Box Systems, please visit: www.tygabox.com.