At a Glance
Construction department employees
Average project duration
Since its founding in 1998, TMX Finance has become one of the fastest-growing financial institutions in the United States, building new locations rapidly to meet demand. Through the fiscal ups and downs of the past decade and a half, the company has offered loan services under the brand names TitleMax, TitleBucks, and InstaLoan, and these names now hang proudly from more than 1,100 storefronts in 12 states. About 800 of those wholly owned and operated locations have gone up—many of them built in less than a month—since 2006, when the company hired director of construction Joe Rudzinskas, and it’s largely because of his efficient, team-oriented changes to the company’s processes that it’s now looking to continue expanding into new states while building roughly 200 more stores annually.
In addition to managing the construction department, Rudzinskas oversees TMX Finance’s FF&E warehouse, and he sees the simple hierarchal structure of both as a major factor in the company’s quick builds.
“We don’t have a lot of bureaucratic levels here, so the work environment is more intimate and responsive, and it produces employees who are tenacious and unstoppable,” he says. “Thanks in part to a three-day permitting process, we recently built out 40 stores in a market in Arizona in less than 90 days. Our monthly goal is to build out 20 new stores, most of which start out as older, preexisting, stand-alone locations.”
For Rudzinskas and his team, it’s not unusual to have 80–100 stores in various stages of construction at any given time. Much of the legal legwork, though, including permitting and community relations, is handled by the company’s real estate professionals and attorneys, freeing Rudzinskas up to focus on improving construction efforts and their practical results. “Often, our bright new stores enhance neighborhoods,” he says, “many of which are in various stages of revitalization. We enter markets aggressively, building multiple locations at a time, and the process has to go as smooth as possible. Obviously, we utilize sophisticated technology to track and report each project and maintain schedules.”
Rudzinskas explains that the only way to maintain such a high production level is to have an assembly-line approach, where his department is divided into three wings: reconstruction deals with surveying, estimating, design, and permitting; construction handles utilities and telecommunications, build-outs, FF&E, and maintenance; and a final wing takes care of signage and branding. Rudzinskas relies on the combined construction experience and wisdom of his three department heads for guidance and perspective. “At the end of the day, even if we disagree, we all leave on the same page, having all contributed to the future of the whole,” he says. “One of our mottos is ‘Unstoppable’ because there’s always a way to do the job the right way if you’re relentless.”
Every team member works on every new location at some point along the development pipeline, so all the members end up relying on one another’s success. This encourages healthy competition while still pushing individual departments to operate as a team first, and for Rudzinskas it’s still the best system. “When there’s a bump in the road, which is not unusual, we just make on-the-fly adjustments, and the system keeps flowing with little fanfare without a hitch,” he says. “After seven years, the process works quite well.” ABQ
Meet Joe Rudzinskas
Where did you go to school?
I was a nautical engineering major at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
What was your first construction job?
MZ Retail Services, managing retail store fit-outs, rebrands, and remodels for various locations.
How did you wind up working for TMX Finance?
There was a certain amount of divine intervention. A recruiter sent a long-forgotten résumé of mine to TMX Finance. I ended up meeting with the owner for a half day. We drove around town, looking at properties, and as he dropped me off at my car, he made me an offer. I was in shock, as it wasn’t your typical job interview, but I wasn’t so shocked that I didn’t see the opportunity.
What personal goals do you have in your current role?
Having accepted Christ, I mean to honor Him through my actions and to do better today than yesterday, always trusting God will put me exactly where He needs me.