July 2018

52 53 improve blade performance introducing carbon fiber in the design rather than produce huge volume glass commodity products.” BVM: What are the company’s objectives for the future? Laufenberg: “The easy answer is to successfully and profitably grow our business. Strong growth within our two mature businesses (construction and fiberglass composites) will have the biggest impact on our five-year goal. “In advanced composites, the carbon business, more than just growth, it’s to become an import- ant player in the industries that use advanced composites. The Boeing 787, for example, uses a tremendous amount of carbon. Developing a supply position in a next generation airplane like the 787 is certainly a high-level goal for Chomarat. We are also working hard to provide some innovative and weight-saving solutions in the automotive industry. Those are two big markets that we are focused on and it is truly rewarding for all of us in the company when we succeed in these areas.We also get to see some really cool composites applications! “Chomarat is an engineered textile business with a big focus on innovation.We try to set ourselves apart with quality and customer sup- port; two items we talk about every day in our company.We highly value our employees and turnover is low. During a study a few years ago, the average tenure at our construction plant was over 25 years. Being a family-owned business, you tend to look at things generationally, rather than just quarterly or monthly. If you talk to our Group President, one of his primary goals is to make Chomarat a better company for the next generation, not the typical focus on short term stock prices like many companies…so it makes for a great place to work.” big customer base, because we knew it was the next important step in our business. Twelve years ago, when we moved into our fiberglass plant, that was a big expansion too - much bigger than we needed at the time, but we filled it over time. On the green front, we’re working in a couple directions: one, to consume trim waste or selvage within our products. In the carbon fiber industry, there’s a lot of excess that comes from the pro- cess of making a part, so we’re working quite ag- gressively with a company that turns that waste back into a usable product.We can then consume it within our process. Right now, the economics of doing it are not the best, but the fundamentals behind why we want to do it are good. “Globally, we’re still aggressively involved in the glass wind energy market with manufacturing in Tunisia and China; the turbine blade sector was an important part of our North American busi- ness until about 18 months ago. That industry, however, has become so commoditized that we have reprioritized our participation within North America. For reference, there are two large Chi- nese companies that have recently come to the U.S. that are vertically integrated, starting with their own fiberglass manufacturing and similar equipment to make reinforcements for the blades. Wind energy is a tough environment to compete in at our current size, so we are now focused on innovative materials to make processing faster or CHOMARAT, NA PREFERRED VENDOR n Net3 Technology, Inc. www.n3t.com