You met him in the September/October issue of Composites Manufacturing magazine but Matt Chambers, president of Marine Concepts/JRL Ventures, Inc., and chair of ACMA’s Government Affairs Committee, has much more to say about the future of the composites industry. This issue of Interviews gives Chambers the opportunity to answer some of the questions that we couldn’t include in CM magazine. Read how Chambers and two other marine companies weathered the recession in “Charting a New Course.”

Matt Chambers, president of Marine Concepts/JRL Ventures, Inc., and chair of ACMA’s Government Affairs Committee

Matt Chambers, president of Marine Concepts/JRL Ventures, Inc., and chair of ACMA’s Government Affairs Committee

“Programs that keep the end users involved and educated are necessary to expanding the industry,” says Chambers.

Chambers has seen great transformation within the composites industry over the years. He was recognized as a leader at the 1995 USA Today Quality Cup during his five-year tenure with K2 Industries before turning his attention to the marine industry.

Why was it important for Marine Concepts to diversify?

To survive and learn! We went through our diversification prior to the Great Recession because we wanted our business to expand. Had we not been well on the way to diversification and just stayed solely marine-based, we would’ve come to a complete stop. But we were able to survive because diversifying gave us other markets to work in.

When you diversify, you’re able to find new and better ways to do things in other markets that may not be happening in the market you’re servicing. So you’re able to bring innovation to your core market by picking up something new from a market you’re diversifying in. Maybe its new materials, new equipment, new technologies or new processes, you really start learning more about things that you never would’ve known about before.

We branched out into the aerospace, government contracts, trucking, theme parks and attractions, wind and transportation industries, just to name a few.

How important has employee training programs been to the company?

It’s extremely important. Just as you have to bring in the latest in equipment, you have to make sure your employees are advancing as well. So we work quite a bit with the regional and state government programs and funding as well as the associations that we belong to, in order to send our people to training courses and bring in vendors.

Vendor partnering is critical to us because they’ll work with you to train your employees to make sure their materials are being used correctly. They’ll keep business by making sure their materials are being used the right way. If we’re not using them correctly and they’re failing, it’s not the materials but it’s about how the employees are using them. That’s why it’s important to train our employees.