Traffic sign manufacturer reflects on 64 years in business

Rochelle A. Shenk, contributing writer//May 15, 2019

Traffic sign manufacturer reflects on 64 years in business

Rochelle A. Shenk, contributing writer//May 15, 2019

Since 1955, T&W Traffic Control has decorated midstate streets and highways in orange, yellow and white.

Based in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, T&W makes and sells traffic and road safety products like stop signs, safety cones and barrels to channel traffic. The company is a PennDOT-approved dealer for traffic signs.

T&W recently expanded into selling safety signage to the comme

Co-owners Denise and Michael Warfel are seen in their Lancaster facility. – Submitted

rcial manufacturing industry – signs such as those indicating that eye protection is required – and custom signage for consumers.

Custom signage can include decals or signs, which are made in-house, co-owner and vice president Michael Warfel said. A worker first applies a reflective sheet to an aluminum plate, which makes up the core of the sign. He or she then applies the graphics on top of the reflective sheeting, followed by a protective coating.

The signage materials are not from recycled goods; however, barrels that can be rented for use on job sites have a rubber-ring base that is made from the sidewalls of truck tires.

T&W also sells safety vests and beanies, LED batons with magnets, and stop and slow paddles. Companies also can rent equipment and signage.

The company’s customers are generally from Lancaster and surrounding counties. Michael said it doesn’t have plans to expand into Maryland since traffic rules and sign requirements are different with regard to design and wording.

The company also likes its signs to stay local for easy repairs.

“We need to have accessibility to the signs we set up,” Denise said. “On construction projects where signs are rented we need to be able to service the signs if they get damaged. Damage can result from occurrences such as wind storms and vehicle accidents.”

T&W also provides signage in emergency situations, like a sudden bridge closure. A municipality may use a sign that it has on hand as a temporary measure, and then call T&W for a custom sign that could indicate how long the bridge may be closed or point to a detour.

“We pride ourselves in our customer service, and responding quickly to an emergency situation is what makes us unique,” Denise said, who received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and business from Immaculata University.

The forerunner to T&W was founded by Michael’s uncle, Water Tymon. While working at Armstrong World Industries, he launched a company called Tymon Flashers in his garage. It focused on renting garden tools, lawn mowers, barricades and lights.

“He saw a need in the community and decided to fill it. As time went on he realized that the lights and barricades were what made the company unique, so he shifted the focus in the direction of road safety,” Denise said.

Along with the shift in direction, the company forged relationships with other businesses including J. D. Eckman Inc., a Chester County-based road construction and bridge replacement company, and McMinn’s Asphalt, an asphalt and paving materials supplier based in East Petersburg, Lancaster County.

“There were no cell phones at that time, so my aunt Teresa and her five children often served as the receptionist, taking calls and filling orders. The customer service that existed back then continues to be the hallmark of T&W Traffic Control’s business today,” Michael said.

Tymon Flashers moved out of Tymon’s garage to its current location at 1505 Rohrerstown Road, Lancaster, in 1988 – the same year that Michael’s parents, Don and Judy Warfel, purchased the business. They renamed it T&W Traffic Control, after Tymon and Warfel. Michael became involved in the business in 1991, and his dad still is part of the company.

T&W has seven employees, and declined to disclose sales figures. “Our knowledgeable employees have to be nimble and flexible — ready and willing to assist customers. While the jobs we respond to are often planned, oftentimes the unexpected call requires employees to adapt and adjust their workload to meet new pressing needs. Our employees are capable of doing the jobs at hand and beyond,” Denise said.

A graduate of Bucknell University with a bachelor’s degree in English, Michael was working in the publishing industry in New York City prior to joining T&W.

“It was a very different opportunity. I saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to grow the family business, leave the rat race of NYC, and establish an adult life in rural Lancaster County. This decision proved to be fruitful both personally and professionally,” Michael said.