The first thing you need to know about Titan Gilroy is, yes, that’s his real name.
As owner and CEO of Titan America MFG in Grass Valley, Gilroy is about to embark on a journey that few would associate with a machine shop boss: He’s starring in his own TV show.
Gilroy, a former top amateur boxer and a former prison inmate, is the focal point of “TITAN American Built,” which will make its series debut at 7 p.m. Friday on the MAVTV cable network.
MAVTV, owned by Lucas Oil Products Inc. and headquartered in Corona, is carried locally by Dish and DirecTV. The cable channel features decidedly macho fare, including motor sports, cage fighting and numerous automotive-themed shows.
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Lately, MAVTV’s website has been promoting Gilroy as the network’s new face. His show hammers home a consistent message: American manufacturing is the world’s best.
Gilroy has been filming the first season’s 13 episodes at his Grass Valley machine shop and says he is already signed up for 13 more next year.
Whatever the show’s long-term future, Gilroy will undeniably command the attention of those tuning in to watch. Built like a bull with eye-catching tattoos and a stare that could crack bricks, Gilroy aims to convince U.S. business leaders that “made in America” is an advantage, not just a slogan.
On the show, the 45-year-old’s imposing, gung-ho, let’s-win-this-for-America persona is on full display. He says too many business leaders have been “outsourcing the very foundation that America was built on” and too many consumers aren’t aware of the everyday importance of manufacturing.
“A lot of people think manufacturing is boring, but it’s not that at all,” he said this week. “Think of all the things we have that involve manufacturing. This show is a way to unveil manufacturing: to see it, to show that America competes.”
“I’ve come full circle,” Gilroy says. “I used to fight to bring (people) down. Now, I’m trying to build things up. I’m the same guy, but now I’m on a positive path.”
Gilroy’s self-described life story is the stuff of a Hollywood script.
Born in Fort Bragg, Gilroy said he accompanied his mother when she fled to Hawaii to escape an abusive husband. There, he says, homelessness and hard times made him a victim of taunts and abuse, and he took up boxing as a way to fight back.
After graduating from high school, he worked with top-notch trainers. He won early and often as a highly ranked amateur, but his route to pro-boxing paydays was crushed by a nightclub fight where Gilroy seriously injured two men. He says he was sentenced in Hawaii to a 16-year prison term for assault. His hard time included a six-month stint in solitary confinement, a time when Gilroy says he harbored suicidal thoughts.
Gilroy says officials with Top Rank Inc., the Nevada-based boxing promotion powerhouse, interceded in his case and helped secure his release after three years of confinement. Released in 1995, Gilroy started a family and eventually took a manufacturing job in Northern California.
He made the jump to start his own business in 2005. Today, he has nearly 30 employees in a 22,000-square-foot facility that utilizes computerized equipment to make precision components from carbon fiber, plastic, aluminum and steel. Clients range from solar enterprises to aerospace firms to medical equipment companies.
Without giving away the outcomes, each TV episode finds Gilroy and his team accepting manufacturing challenges from U.S. companies, including medical, military and deep-sea exploration firms. The show’s creators say tension is built with tight manufacturing deadlines and millions of dollars in contracts hanging in the balance.
Gilroy, who has his own production company, American Built Media, said he shopped his reality show around to various TV outlets but considers MAVTV a perfect fit. When the show was picked up, MAVTV President Bob Patison said in a statement: “Titan came to us, and we liked his story. He’s a very intense individual.”
The show’s first season will flash back to Gilroy’s past, including unblinking looks at his lowest moments. As Gilroy sees it, there will be hopeful messages for those going through their own personal struggles.
The show’s sponsors include Oxnard-based Haas Automation Inc., one of the world’s top machine tool builders, and San Rafael-based Autodesk Inc., a multinational corporation that makes software for numerous industries including manufacturing.
Next month, Gilroy is moving his entire Titan operation into a new facility in Rocklin.
And the made-in-America man says he’ll be hiring. Interested individuals can check the company’s website: titanamericamfg.com.
Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.