Huffman photoJeff Huffman
Hometown: Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Education: Central Missouri State University
Age: 46
Hobbies: Boating and scuba diving

Jeff Huffman was so excited to capitalize on a business opportunity that he left Central Missouri State University in 1989 to turn an idea from a college paper he wrote into a thriving business. He and his father, who was in the cabinet industry, began making cultured marble vanity tops, tubs and showers. Together, they created Master Marble Inc. (MMI). Huffman has been running MMI for more than 20 years with his father, Leland, and youngest brother, Rick.

Through the years, MMI grew substantially, but Huffman wasn’t content with the status quo. “We gave our research and development team the task of creating different aggregates for use in our products,” he says.

In 2009, Huffman and his team developed a product called Travina® – crushed sea shell and recycled glass fillers used to create durable surfaces. Travina’s recycled glass is used in slab products that replace granite. Approximately 15 manufacturers around the U.S. buy Travina products to install in kitchen countertops.

Developing Travina products was a major shift from creating cultured marble. However, Huffman says the engineering process is relatively the same. “I call it the ‘barefoot engineering process’ simply because we had to use what we had to create something new,” says Huffman. “We’re still using a polyester resin and our same kind of catalyst, but we’re using a different aggregate.” From this process, MMI discovered how to color the recycled glass, placing the company in a different league than most recycled glass manufacturers, says Huffman.

“Jeff is always looking for ways to improve the products he creates with the composites and recycled materials that most of us would toss aside,” says Jerry Ratway, manager of sales and business development at Flooring Resources Group. According to Huffman, MMI’s commitment to using recycled materials keeps more than 155 tons of glass from going to landfills. He hopes to expand that number exponentially.