Townsend Industries

As a lifelong truck driver and supervisor in the waste industry, John Townsend had long observed the inefficiency of having two completely different types of garbage trucks required to pick up two common types of large waste receptacles. To solve this problem, John invented the Front End Transformer (FET), which allows a front-load garbage truck to pick up a rear-load style dumpster. In 2009 he founded Townsend Industries LLC to develop, market, and sell his patent-pending device.

When he realized that he needed assistance establishing and running his new business, he turned to the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for help.

Mr. Townsend’s SBDC business consultant first conducted an assessment of the situation to determine the overall state of the business. The consultant then began to assist him in  developing his business plan and marketing strategy. Mr. Townsend also sought engineering assistance as he continued working through prototypes of his product, and for this the consultant referred him to the specialty Engineering Development Services of the PASBDC network, hosted at Bucknell University’s College of Engineering. At the Bucknell SBDC, two engineering student consultants conducted a research project on the FET, using sophisticated finite element modeling software to help John analyze the loading capacity of his design.

In conjunction with this product development assistance from Bucknell, the University of Pittsburgh SBDC conducted market research to strengthen the business and marketing plans. A consultant at the Pitt SBDC also assisted in developing sales strategies, an “ROI calculator” for use in sales presentations, and the marketing materials for a presentation at the National Waste Expo.

With SBDC assistance, Townsend Industries validated the need for its product, improved its design, and now has an agreement in place for purchase of the first unit, which will retail for $8500. Following the sale agreement for the first FET, Mr. Townsend was approached by a major national distributor of refuse trucks and parts interested in exclusive distribution rights for the product. The SBDC continues to meet with and advise Mr. Townsend on major strategic decisions as he proceeds with marketing and sales of his innovative new product.