What has been the most rewarding part of creating your own business?
I’ve enjoyed working on projects that are 100 percent involved in homeland security or infrastructure. We get to be a part of the design and manufacture of infrastructure products that are going to be around for hundreds of years and we get to protect U.S. citizens. For example, we are part of constructing a vehicle for the military (in competition with other vehicle prototypes) that will save soldiers lives. We find those things rewarding—. It also gives us an opportunity to compete with larger facilities. We get to build our relations with other companies, and in some circumstances we can help each other out. We stay busy enough that once we finish a job, we have another in the wings. Not a lot of composite companies are fortunate enough to be able to say that.
What led Sybo to create Sybo Engineering?
When you look at the long term it’s imperative to outsource or internalize the engineering. We get pulled into engineering projects on a daily basis so it works in our favor to offer these services. The new firm will design everything from a bicycle wheels to aiding in the laminate design for military vehicles, wind energy and marine. We have contracts to work on several different boat models and we can work on various sizes of wind blades.
What do you see driving the composite industry right now?
Having been on the supply side, we use a lot of material. When the demand rose for wind blades there was a shortage on several different materials. In order to compete with the rest of the world, we have to automate as much as possible and we have to be green. In an effort to do that, everything we produce at Sybo Composites is made in a closed mold process. We’ve done some testing with soybean based resins and natural materials. The technology isn’t quite up to par but better than 10 to 20 years ago. Big challenge for the industry is to become less dependent on oil. Dana was a customer of mine for 20 years and we talked about wanting a clean plant environment. Our business is literally a dream come true.
What are the biggest opportunities in the infrastructure market for composites?
I’d say the biggest is going to be wind energy. When you look at world events like the Japanese reactors melting, fuel crisis, everything going green, what’s going on in the rest of the world with wind energy, we’re gaining technology in plug and mold as well as parts. On a trip we made to Spain, I was surprised to see how much they have invested in wind energy.