Larry Dickinson
Hometown: Hickory, N.C.
Alma Mater: North Carolina State University
Age: 45
Hobby: Mountain biking

DickinsonLarry Dickinson’s interest in composites was sparked as a student at North Carolina State University. He entered a competition for an oral technical presentation and was unsure about a topic. “My undergraduate advisor suggested three-dimensional textile composites,” says Dickinson. “I’ve been hooked on those as high-tech materials ever since.”

Dickinson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in textile and mechanical engineering. He received a doctorate in applied science with a concentration in polymers from the College of William & Mary. Through the years, he has worked in a variety of settings. “I’ve had a very blessed career at large companies, small businesses and national labs,” says Dickinson.

Highlights include working at NASA, overseeing product development at startup company 3TEX Inc., and acting as manager of engineering and technology at Martin Marietta Composites. In 2005, he founded 3F LLC in Raleigh, N.C., which develops and commercializes new structural fiber materials. It’s currently applying proprietary chemistry to natural fiber — such as kenaf or hemp — to replace fiberglass in fiber-reinforced plastics. 3F plans to sell the natural fiber to companies who make everything from bathtubs to boat hulls, lightweight car parts, construction materials and other structural FRP applications.

“It’s great to work on a product idea to not only make money, but also make a difference; a product that we really believe will help change the world,” says Dickinson. 3F is close to supplying prototype materials to a couple of early-adopting customers.

Dickinson’s passion for his business comes naturally: Every male member of his father’s family — four uncles and seven cousins — owns a business or did before retirement. “I think the entrepreneurial streak is in my blood,” he says.

Dana Greenwood
Hometown: New Orleans, La.
Education: U.S. Navy
Age: 55
Hobbies: Boating and motorcycles

GreenwoodIn his twenties, Dana Greenwood spent six years in the U.S. Navy in an advanced electronics program focused on weapons systems. “It’s ironic,” says Greenwood, now president of Sybo Composites in St. Augustine, Fla. “My job was to blow up stuff. Now I work on ballistics and explosion protection.”

Greenwood has more than 30 years of experience in composites manufacturing, much of it in the marine segment. He was introduced to boat manufacturing at Regal Marine, and then moved to Luhrs Corporation, where he got involved in design, engineering and prototyping. In 1991, Greenwood worked for Consolidated Yacht Corporation and helped build a 176-foot carbon fiber mast — the world’s largest at the time. He also built a two-man fiberglass barrel that a couple successfully rode over the Niagara Falls.

Three years ago, Greenwood founded Sybo Composites with partner Stuart La Haise. The company designs, engineers and manufactures advanced composites structures for a variety of industries, including marine, wind energy and military. La Haise praises Greenwood for “coming up with common sense solutions for everyday manufacturing challenges.” For instance, Greenwood constructed a 10-foot-long autoclave out of a propane tank to process panels for one project.

Greenwood has worked on countless boats through the decades. But perhaps the most memorable is a philanthropic project he completed with Sybo for Floating Doctors, a group of volunteer physicians who strive to improve health care and reduce disease in the developing world. A few years ago, Floating Doctors purchased a large sailboat that needed repair. Sybo Composites fixed the boat and trained the crew on composites repair.