“It’s a classic market,” says Sanford. “Our challenge now is to grow and diversify that business so the outlook for the next 40 years is as bright as the past 75 have been.” The company made strides earlier this year when it invested $4.9 million in a newly opened, 60,000-square-foot logistics building that will also create jobs in the region. The company, which also operates a 122,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, has approximately 120 employees.

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].”

The Beginning of a New Adventure

Osterman says Sanford has challenged him to become better in his role as controller by looking at situations from different perspectives. “This has helped me get more done with our existing resources and has helped with analyzing situations to make better decisions,” he says. Osterman is confident that Sanford will do the same for ACMA.

“There is no doubt he will be a good leader for ACMA,” says Osterman. “He will bring together membership and work to impact a positive change for the benefit of the industry.”

Through the years, Sanford has garnered many advocates among colleagues at work and on the ACMA Board of Directors. But his biggest supporters are his wife, son and daughter. “They have been a very important part of all the adventures I’ve undertaken, no matter where in the world my career took me,” he says. “It’s been a wonderful ride, and we would not have had it any other way.”

Sanford’s adventures are sure to continue as he embarks on a new path as ACMA chair.

Susan Keen Flynn is managing editor of Composites Manufacturing magazine. Email comments to sflynn@keenconcepts.net.