In 2009, Stuart La Haise, vice-president of Sybo Composites in Saint Augustine, Fla., joined with business partner and long-time customer, Dana Greenwood, to create a clean environment they had always discussed. Stuart graduated from Citadel with a BS in business administration in 1984 and joined the composites industry as a material supplier in the late 80’s. Sybo Composites produces parts for the marine industry, military prototypes, as well as parts for infrastructure and other custom manufacturing projects. La Haise and Greenwood recently branched out and created a new engineering firm called Sybo Engineering Innovations.
How has your view of composites changed over the past twenty years?
Today there’s a stronger emphasis on lightweight structures. The general composite market uses more high-performance materials where previously primarily epoxy resins were used in markets like aerospace and aviation. Today the focus to create lighter products is especially noticeable in markets like marine, where issues like fuel consumption has pushed them to move for lighter boats and lower horsepower engines.
I agree with my partner Dana that from an engineering point of view, 25 years ago the naval architects and engineers were creating designs based on availability of material. Now there are so many components and materials on the market that engineers are striving to find places to put them. Because this allows more flexibility in the design, technology and composite material selection in industry segments is much closer to aerospace than ever—we hear the word “carbon fiber” about 100 times a day!
What is Sybo Composite’s focus and how does that apply to the industry?
Sybo Composites is involved in private label manufacturing. We started the company based on a bridge armor contract producing parts for Hardwire LLC. We built the armor shields that go onto suspension bridges and since then we’ve evolved into marine, wind blades, tooling on wind blades and commercial products. We also have two 5-axis routers that we use for rapid prototyping, cutting direct to molds, plug and mold construction. Right now we are working on a project for the military where we cut straight to female molds. This way the part gets to the customer faster.
To what do your attribute your success?
I think we’ve excelled based on the diversity of the products we offer. My background is in materials, Dana is in manufacturing. We’ve been leveraging the two and offering our knowledge to the customer, which provides them with better, lighter, stiffer parts.