Dave Yancho & Robin McConnell - Armor Protective Packaging - 2022 John G. Thodis Michigan Manufacturer of the Year (Small Tier)

This article appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

As leaders of Armor Protective Packaging, President Dave Yancho and Managing Partner Robin McConnell embody all the qualities that we look for in John G Thodis Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Award winners for small tier.

Qualities like “innovative” … “creative” … “loyal” … “dedicated” … and “fun.”

The phrase “yin and yang” has been used to describe the pair and, by complementing each other, they have led ARMOR to new heights. In fact, over the past 20 years, the company’s bottom line has increased from $2 million to $20 million per year.

“I like to say that Robin and I are like Word and Excel or like head and heart,” Yancho says of the two of them. “When something happens, I usually write about it and Robin will go to an Excel spreadsheet — so, he’s numbers and I’m words. It’s really that perfect yin and yang — our skills and interests complement each other and it just works.”

Both Yancho and McConnell stress one thing, however: this Award is not only about them — it belongs to every member of the team.

Company Culture & Vision

ARMOR is a rust prevention and removal company specializing in vapor corrosion inhibitor packaging (VCI). It supplies rust prevention items such as VCI film, VCI paper and emitters, as well as a rust remover bath and gel to metal manufacturers around the world. ARMOR focuses on creating products that are clean, safe, easy-
to-use, sustainable and environmentally conscious.

Yancho became involved in the industry when he answered an ad to work in sales for what was then SKS Industries. McConnell joined the team a few years later. When owner John Holden decided to sell the business, the pair took over. Now, it’s more than 20 years later, and the company’s culture, vision and values remain pivotal to its success.

“I think they have the same mentality that was started with John Holden,” says Nicole Trierweiler, Business Systems Manager for ARMOR. “It’s very family oriented. It’s relaxed. We have a lot of fun, but we know when to buckle down and really get things done.”

According to Yancho, another key to success is how you treat others. In addition to taking care of vendors and customers, if you treat employees right, treat one another with respect and value the relationships, things will fall into place, he says.

“We want people to be independent and we want them to make decisions on their own,” he says. “We give them the vision and the core values to make those decisions. Ultimately, we believe that people and relationships come first and the profits will follow.”

The success may also have something to do with their priority on being “auFUNtic.”

“You won’t find the word auFUNtic in Webster’s Dictionary, but it is our term for authentic, genuine and fun,” McConnell says. “It’s about having a positive, can-do attitude. We want our team to be the same people at work that they are at home or in their personal lives — approachable and ‘real.’ There’s no reason to put on airs or be someone different.”

Although ARMOR is now a global company, Yancho and McConnell choose slow and “controlled” growth.

“We’ve maintained a very steady and strong growth but never losing our culture, never losing our vision and the quality of products and the service,” Yancho says.

Community Stewards

Not only does ARMOR offer innovative and clean products and a fun workplace but it also emphasizes good citizenship with its VALOR program. Through the VALOR (Volunteers of ARMOR), employees receive 24 hours of paid time off each year to volunteer in the community. In addition, ARMOR sponsors and plans the annual ARMOR Great Pumpkin Classic Car Show, where this year alone it hosted close to 550 cars and raised more than $25,000 for the Livingston County Salvation Army.

ARMOR has repeatedly been named among the “Cool Places to Work in Michigan” and the “Best Workplaces” by Crain’s Detroit Business and Inc. Magazine.

Whether it’s by writing chemical equations on a board to explain an upcoming project, offering rust prevention solutions to businesses, volunteering in the community or encouraging fun around the office for team members, the leadership clearly has the recipe for success.

It’s this kind of culture, innovation and dedication that makes Armor Protective Packaging this year’s Small Tier John G. Thodis Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Award winner.

Premium Associate MemberThe John G. Thodis Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Award is part of the annual MFG Excellence Awards which celebrate the leaders and products that are pushing the industry forward. Learn more about the awards program and gala.