Twenty years ago, Toni Sabia started her company – Transport Systems & Products (TSP Inc.) – as a one-woman show. Since then TSP has grown exponentially, distributing among the best known specialized transportation and marine equipment in the world. Sabia began her career as a logistics manager at the Brimmekamp Company, which represented several European-manufactured equipment companies. One of those companies was Scheuerle.
Toni Sabia, President and Owner, Transport Systems & Products
“That’s when I was introduced to the world of specialized transportation,” she recalled. “As time went on I became versed in all aspects of that business, including sales and service.”
When Brimmekamp closed its doors in 1998, Scheuerle approached Sabia about the prospect of becoming its North American representative. She said yes, and that’s when her company was born. For two years she ran the business on her own.
“After that it became obvious that I was going to need help,” she said. “As we grew as a company, I added support staff and later sales and marketing people. In 2001 we added other products specific to specialized transportation and the marine industries to our offering. The marine products are a perfect fit as we have sold Scheuerle transporters into many of the major shipyards in North America.”
I first met Toni Sabia in 2006 at an SC&RA meeting, during the first year that we published American Cranes & Transport. Back then, at the SC&RA Symposium Exhibit Center and Annual Conference Products Fair, she would work the TSP Inc. booth alone. Often, she and I were the only women on that side of the display table.
As she grew her company, she grew her involvement in SC&RA, serving on the board of directors and leading the SC&R Foundation. She was an eloquent spokesperson for the Foundation, often awarding scholarships and grants to proud recipients who would travel to the SC&RA’s annual conference to accept their awards.
“Our affiliation with the SC&RA has had a wonderful impact on our business,” she said. “The ‘we/us’ attitude of the organization and its members allows a wave of networking, referral and assistance that I haven’t experienced through any other organization. The SC&RA and its membership work wonders in letting everyone know who moves and builds our world. I love being a part of that group.”
And suffice it to say, the feeling is mutual.
Sabia is admired and respected for her leadership and professionalism throughout the industry. She has sold transport systems to small companies and huge ones alike, and each of her customers are assured that the service after the sale is as good as gold.
We caught up with Sabia recently to discuss her business and the market for specialized transportation equipment.
What is the scope of products/services offered by TSP?
TSP offers a wide variety of products starting with transporters from the TII Group and Scheuerle. These transporters span a wide range of industries from aerospace to energy, construction to shipbuilding and more. TSP also offers a full complement of marine electronics, marine safety equipment, foul weather gear and mobile electronics.
What distinguishes TSP Inc. in the Markets its serves?
TSP has always had a customer centric philosophy. We work hard for both our customers and the manufacturers we represent. When you combine our focus on customer service with the wide array of products we offer, and over 35 years of experience in the specialized transport and marine industries, TSP sits apart from most other organizations in our respective industries.
How is the TII/Scheuerle product line distributed in the United States? What are its advantages?
The Scheuerle product line has long been a world leader in specialized transportation. Since the formation of the TII Group, the product line has expanded even more. Covering the marine and shipyard industries, energy, manufacturing, metallurgy, over-the-road and in-plant sectors, Scheuerle and the TII Group either makes or can design a transporter to meet your needs and challenges. Ship yard transporters, SPMTs, hydraulic platform trailers, hydraulic highway trailers as well as custom design and build transporters that solve a multitude of specialized transportation challenges.
The product line is distributed in the United States through TSP and its strategic partners. When a customer buys a Scheuerle they are purchasing a long history of success, service, functionality and technology that is unsurpassed.
A woman-owned business in the realm of specialized transportation is a rarity. Were there any challenges along the way in building your business?
There were some times in the beginning that I felt I had to prove myself, to show that I actually had the mechanical knowledge and capability to comprehend and understand the needs of our customers and the workings of our equipment. I use a lesson every day, that my father taught me as a young child, and that is: “If something is in your way, move it. If something is broken, fix it. And if you want something, work hard for it.”
So, with that in mind, I never really paid attention to the thought that a woman couldn’t be successful in this industry.
What is it you like about what you do?
What I like about this industry and the job we do centers around the fact that we actually have an impact in the development, advancement and structure of our global society. I have gotten to visit many incredible places and see some amazing things. I am fortunate in that on a daily basis I get to see hard working people excelling at jobs that most people don’t even know exist, doing things that no one really knows how they get done. That’s what I love about what I do.
What is your business philosophy?
TSP is a customer centric company. We not only recognize our customer’s wants, but we also pay careful attention to their needs. We believe that in any project we equally represent our principal and our customer. We work hard to make the interaction work for all parties.
What do you do when not working?
I will let you know when that finally happens!