July 2018

50 51 CHOMARAT, NA flectors, and fenders – and a great deal in the marine industry. “Our third plant, opened in 2014.We classify it as our advanced composites plant. There, we produce carbon reinforcements for more de- manding applications in the aerospace, auto- motive, industrial, and sporting goods markets. For example, we’ve done work recently with a company on a carbon kayak to make it much lighter and stronger than its predecessor. You get the same strength and stiffness with a lot less material, so that’s a benefit.” BVM: Does Chomarat have an R & D divi- sion? Laufenberg: “ We’re directly tied in with our global R & T group (Research & Technology), headquartered in France. That’s part of what has helped us grow this business - our big fo- cus on innovation. If we develop something in North America, we can easily transfer it to our factories in France or China or Tunisia – and vice versa. “In the sporting goods industry, we supply a fair amount to large manufacturers, but we also support many smaller customers, sometimes through our distribution channels or prepreggers. A prepregger will take our dry reinforcements, like rolls of woven carbon material, and run it through a separate process to put adhesive on it before selling to the final part manufacturer.We spend a lot of time work- ing with and promoting C-Ply, the trade name for one of our most innovative carbon reinforcement families. For example, Rocket Composites is a rel- atively small and innovative company that uses C-Ply for making carbon fiber backpack frames. In fact, they produced a great video that we have on our website called C-Ply for a Backpack Frame. We show it to our customers and prospects to help explain the C-Plymaterial we manufacture.” BVM: How is your company different from the competition? Laufenberg: “In some of our construction busi- nesses, there may be only a handful of competi- tors in the world, whereas we may be competing against a dozen in other businesses.We have a very wide family of products, so our reinforce- ment diversity is larger than just about anyone else in the industry. Our North American business can be classified as a producer of engineered textiles, and the textile industry has had to change a lot in its history. Most standard textiles, for clothing, etc. have gone over seas. So, we’ve had to put our expertise into developing prod- ucts that make sense for us to do, like advanced composites. Our whole business started in the silk industry in 1898– I think if we had stayed only in silk, we would have been out of business 100 years ago.Within the textile world, we’ve had to evolve, which is why we’ve put such a huge focus on innovation in our company. “Our newest plant is 60,000 square feet; we did that expansion in 2014 before even having a