“I recently had a face-to-face meeting with a senior White House official that went very well,” Schweitzer reported. “It was our first meeting with someone that high up in the White House, and we feel like we’re getting important people engaged on our behalf.”

“That advocacy effort must be supported by composites firms themselves,” said Mark Walton, principal of Strategic Communications Consulting. Walton offered specific tips about how companies can deliver proactive messages to staff and community members, including this insight:

  • Create a public relations plan for each facility and be prepared for “triggering events” such as safety certification permit renewals and employee safety questions. “When you get questions, address them quickly, promptly and fairly,” Walton said. “Always tell the truth, and remember a mantra of the crisis communication world: Reassure first, and educate second.”
  • Monitor media and community sentiments through social media tools.
  • Invite local leaders and media members on plant tours.
  • Show good stewardship and earn goodwill by reducing emissions, addressing environmental concerns and keep safety datasheets updated.
  • Try to get workers to become advocates for the company by focusing on clarity, authenticity and access in your messages.
  • Use ACMA’s resources, including a worker handout, a workplace poster, common questions and answers about styrene, a video on styrene facts and more.

Marine App Makes First Wave

When Scott Lewit studied the new fleet of U.S. Naval rigid hull, inflatable boats back in 2008, he uncovered a number of significant inefficiencies. Like wave impact. And seat systems. And the plain old weight of the boat. He also knew he could do something to improve all that.

So Lewit, president of Structural Composites Inc., Melbourne, Fla., started to break down the structures of these boats—referred to more widely as RHIBs—used as combatant crafts that employ tough, lightweight fiber systems combined with carbon-fiber and preform-framing technologies in order to make them lighter, safer and more fuel-efficient.

More than three years later, the changes are nothing short of remarkable.

Lewit said he opted for low-section framing, which allows for lower cost and less weight than a traditional sandwich boat; a membrane structure that absorbs the weight of waves and has no hard spots that might otherwise cause the boat the break; and a Sharkskin coating that uses modified truck-bed liner as the skin of the boat.