Bryan Smith is the general manager of Goldshield Fiberglass, a Decatur, Indiana-based manufacturer of custom molded composites that has 150 employees and 260,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Smith’s first stint at Goldshield lasted 14 years (from 1986 to 2000), and he rejoined the company in 2009 to oversee its day-to-day operations and to provide strategic direction.

Bryan Smith- General Manager of Goldshield Fiberglass

Bryan Smith- General Manager of Goldshield Fiberglass

How has the strategic direction of your company changed recently?

We made an important realization that our biggest strength is in open mold fiberglass—robotic spray up, hand spray up and hand lay up. That’s where our team is most experienced and skilled, and we feel like we can be a leader in the open mold fiberglass realm. Today, we’re aiming to find new, highly individualized applications where open mold is the chosen process.

As you seek those applications, what are you learning about today’s market?

It’s still volume-sensitive. There’s an important consideration about when an application becomes more cost-effective for the end user to spend the money on the tooling and go to a closed molding process. Our ideal applications are specific to several thousand units a year and down. That’s why industries like transportation have always been a target of ours, but we also realize the need to seek new opportunities.

What should companies consider as they approach new opportunities and markets?

I think companies should first understand what they do best—identifying your core strengths has never been more important than it is today, as we all find ways to overcome economic factors. Let’s face it, there are a lot of companies that do open mold fiberglass, so what really sets a company apart? For us, that meant holding strategic planning meetings and determining that our real advantage is providing technical expertise. We’ve always offered specialized engineering design and structural assistance as a value-added service to ensure that finished parts meet our clients’ established requirements and quality expectations. Today, that value-added service is a core strength—something we take to market more aggressively. In the transportation industry, when you’re talking about a hood or another part, the technical side and meeting specific tolerances are vital. We’re fully staffed now with a group of engineers who develop and form those products. And the new markets we’re seeking to penetrate are ones that rely on our technical approach and understanding.

What advice can you give to industry leaders about the importance of holding strategy meetings and positioning their company for future growth?