Now No. 1 in solid-surface shower solutions, Stark County company hasn't forgotten countertops, where it all began.

Success brings with it blood, sweat and tears, and more than a smidgeon of stress.

Local entrepreneur Todd Werstler, CEO of Tower Industries, 2101 9th St SW in Massillon, is no stranger to these elements of conducting business.

Yet, he and his associates, also have experienced the spoils of victory.

Tower borrows letters from its namesake. It's also taken on his personality traits — hard-working, resourceful and agile.

Werstler graduated from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. in 1987. He worked in the trucking industry until 1994, when he came back to Stark County.

"That's when I decided I never wanted to work for someone else again," Werstler said.

On June 17, 1994 — the day O.J. Simpson's white Ford Bronco led police on a long chase — Werstler set out on his own.

He wrote a business plan, got wise counsel from his father, Bob, — who'd worked in sales in the construction industry — and focused on developing a successful solid-surface countertop manufacturing operation.

That's exactly what he did.

"We've always been a manufacturer that sells things," Werstler said. "But we're transitioning into a sales organization that makes things."

Seventy percent of revenues come from a side of the business most of Stark County doesn't realize Tower Industries is involved in — solid-surface shower solutions.

Thirty percent of revenues come from countertops.

Tower installs countertops in Ohio, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and Indiana for its Ohio-based customers. One large customer is Canton's Schumacher Homes.

"We got our start in countertops," Werstler said. "But showers turned us into a national company."

In the countertop business, companies get locked into a region.

"Customers want someone to come into their home or business, do the measurements and install the countertop," he said.

Werstler and his team realized growth opportunities in countertops were limited.

"The only way to grow was to open multiple locations in different areas of the country," he said.

Solid-surface countertops were hot in the 1990s and early 2000s, but the market cooled.

Granite and quartz were the next big thing. Tower now cuts and installs countertops made of these materials.

"We'd mastered manufacturing solid-surface countertops, but by 2004, nobody wanted them in their homes anymore," Werstler said.

That year, Tower got an inquiry for a dorm remodel at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. The university needed 150 showers installed in six weeks.

"I said, 'Sure, we can do that,'" Werstler said. "But we had no idea how we were going to get it done."

This was a turning point — the first project on which solid-surface technology was used for the manufacture of shower solutions.

Tower Industries has never looked back.

Tower Industries Body Image

 "Solid-surface showers are sanitary, they're strong, they stand up to cleansers and they're customizable," Werstler said. "They fit perfectly into large, institutional projects."

From Ohio State to Harvard to Yale to Wake Forest to Texas Tech, Tower Industries has installed solid-surface showers in more than 100 universities throughout the country.

Tower also has made great inroads with its solid-surface showers at hospitality, healthcare and military facilities across the country.

Pun intended; Tower has only scratched the solid-surface marketplace.

"There's a great big blue ocean out there for us," Werstler said.

Werstler is now focused on the sales side of the business. No one knows the product better than its founder.

"When you see success and profitability, it helps you up your game," Werstler said. "You can bring on great leaders who are great at what they do."

Werstler is comfortable with the Tower Industries team, which is at about 60 people. During the busy summer remodeling season, it expands to more than 100.

"I don't have to worry at all about what they're doing," Werstler said. "I can focus on selling."

Werstler is typically in the office Monday and Tuesday. He travels for business Wednesday through Friday. He heads home to Columbus to enjoy every weekend with his wife, 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son.

Tower Industries supports Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (at one time, Werstler was a Big Brother) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Werstler has served on the board of directors of associations including the International Cast Polymer Association and the Solid Surface Fabricators Association. He also has served on the Wake Forest athletic board.

As long as Tower Industries is in business, there'll be blood, sweat and tears involved — and some stress.

But don't be surprised, however, when Werstler and his team continue to experience the spoils of victory.