Tony Osterman, controller at Röchling Glastic Composites, says Sanford adeptly led the recent company expansion. “Our space limitations were becoming a bottleneck and impacting our ability to grow our business,” says Osterman. “Fred worked with senior leadership at Röchling to get approval, worked with local and county governments to assist with securing the current site and worked with his teams to complete the project on time and on budget.”

Finding the Right Path

Sanford’s ability to work with an array of people and get the job done will serve him well as chair of ACMA’s Board of Directors. Shortly after joining the board, Sanford agreed to lead ACMA’s Marketing & Communications Committee (MARCOM), which helps formulate the association’s marketing strategy and identifies ways to promote the composites industry.

“Fred jumped right in and took the opportunity to look at our MARCOM area through a different lens,” recalls Barnett. “He uses an analytical, but creative approach to understand things. Fred is never afraid to take on a challenge.” During the past two years – some of the most challenging in the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions – Sanford served as treasurer of ACMA.

Sanford is prepared to lead the association for the next two years as it continues to evolve. “When I started out my career, if someone said they were in composites the picture that popped into your mind was a fiberglass canoe or cafeteria lunch tray,” he says. “Then the industry moved into carbon fiber and other resin technologies, but it was still very much a thermoset world. Now the boundaries have blurred, and composites can mean much more – not only plastics, but also powdered metal composites and ceramic composites.”

Sanford admits there are advantages and disadvantages to the expanding market: It creates a bigger world that opens up new opportunities, but also can lure companies down expensive rabbit holes and away from their core strengths. As ACMA chair, he hopes to foster new opportunities for composites that members can pursue to improve their respective businesses. He’ll also work with the board of directors to significantly expand association membership.

“Just like the word composites has changed, our potential members have changed, too,” says Sanford. “We started an initiative three years ago that would have significantly expanded our member base and grown the association only to be interrupted by COVID. We need to find our path all over again. If we do the right things for the right people, it will be a magnet [for membership].”