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40 years ago, John Boyd looked across the 300 Acres of his dried up soybean farm in Mississippi, then upward again at the burning sun, and realized another rainfall wasn’t coming anytime soon. Deciding that a career change was needed, Boyd turned away from the tractor and soil and set his sights on becoming an industrialist. After forming a team to support his goal, he set up a small operation in South Carolina with the simple goal of providing Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic FRP equipment that was based upon safety and quality to the surrounding regions and communities.
As the company celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, Boyd’s original principles of safety and quality remain paramount, yet the company’s success has soared above and beyond anything he ever expected, and it was all done through John Boyd, his wife Caroline Boyd and the rest of the founding team’s dedication and guidance. “What began as a small business 40 years ago, now is a success story that we can all be proud of,” he says, adding, “some of the people we began this company with still work here, and from them we even have second and third generations working hard under our roofs to this very day.”
Now, instead of looking across a field of soybeans, Boyd oversees a global business with multiple manufacturing facilities, the chief one being their Blackville, SC. Campus composed of over 300,000-square-feet under one roof, which sits on 309 acres and serves as their primary headquarters.
It’s these facilities, and the proficiency of the processes being employed inside of them, that put Augusta Fiberglass on a different playing field than others. “Manufacturing, and our ability to be dynamic in the way we do it, is our key differentiator when producing Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) equipment for our global customer base,” he says.
Annually converting millions of pounds of thermoset resin and fiberglass fabric into custom designed and manufactured FRP equipment, there’s really no project or piece of equipment that is too large for Augusta Fiberglass to take on. “We are a versatile company, with a production range starting at one inch pipe, and going all the way up to 119 feet in diameter,” he says, adding, “We really cover the full spectrum of the market.”
Impacting many industries, the company’s most frequently requested products are their FRP tanks and scrubbers, these components are designed to be utilized in municipal and industrial facilities to help manage their pollution control. Aiding their ability to design and manufacture these products are a number of highly skilled engineers with training in multiple disciplines, a fleet of 25 cranes with 120-ton capacities, and, perhaps most impressive, a near 20-year, continuous possession of the American Society for Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) RTP-1 accreditation, a stringent standard and tool used to measure quality assurance that is held by only 10 other companies in the world. “We’re very proud of our RTP-1 accreditation, because it is a highly prestigious accomplishment to be awarded its status, given the strict codes laid out by it, but also because it is something accepted worldwide, enabling us to effectively have no borders on where or when we do business.”
Business Anytime, Anywhere
The “when” Boyd talks about refers to another distinguishing trait of Augusta Fiberglass’ ability to manufacture and produce for just about any company in the world. “I honestly believe we are unequalled in our ability to take on projects, particularly big ones, at the spur of the moment and engineer and build them in an efficient manner that is also at a close proximity to the end user.” He’s talking about his company’s ability to not only produce FRP equipment inside their own facilities, but also through a number of prefabricated buildings that they can transport to a customer’s site and allow them to produce right next door. “Many times when we’re building these massive structures, they’re too big to be transported on their own,” Boyd says, continuing, “if we’re producing a 45-foot diameter tank, we can build it in 15-foot tall sections, squeeze it into a shippable widths due to fiberglass’ flexibility, and ship it off. However, for bigger projects we will often go straight to the source and build right there.”
Boyd says his company has a private jet that can fly the necessary employees to any customers’ site, and upon arrival will be there not only for production needs, but to provide any additional service for the customer as well. “We have these structures we take out, pour a concrete slab, set them up, and then build inside them for the next six months to a year before we take them back home.”
He recalls a recent project with a major Florida utility company, where they called on Augusta Fiberglass to conduct a complete demolition of their old duct system, and fabrication of a new system, and a full installation of it as well. “This was a turnkey job where we built part of it at our Blackville facility, and other parts at our Mississippi facility and then shipped from a dock we actually bought in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, next to our sister company B&D Plastics,” he says, adding, “we performed the job from these two locations, shipping the Duct and other equipment on barges and across the Gulf, as well as going into the preexisting facility and tearing down the deteriorated ductwork, which had to be done in a very short time span.”
In late 2010, Augusta Fiberglass and B & D Plastics joined forces to become one of the largest dual laminate equipment manufacturers in North America.
Since then they have manufactured some of the largest process vessels and tanks ever made with this type of construction.
Dual Laminate equipment incorporates the same type of structure as traditional FRP equipment with an added internal lining made with engineered thermo-plastics ranging from PVC to Teflon, depending on the chemicals processed or stored.
They have invested in state of the art equipment to keep current with the joining technologies used to weld the various thermo-plastic material.
Boyd said the Florida Utility project is a perfect example of the comprehensive capabilities his company possesses and applies when they take a job on with a customer. “Based on our history and experience they chose us to do the job for them, so we met their challenge with a strong determination to succeed, and ended up exceeding their expectations,” he says, adding, “my engineering team designed everything for them, our employees at both locations manufactured in sync together, and everything was completed safely and in a timely manner, an outcome we demand from ourselves as with every project we take on.”
And their reputation of reliability and efficiency is quickly spreading to other industries as well, particularly that of the chemical industry. Boyd says they just finished an unprecedented job for a major North American ethanol company, where they designed, built, and installed multiple 100-plus-feet-tall scrubbers. “This is something that has never been done before and signifies a part of a new process for ethanol conversion, and given our success in the job, has us excited about our future in the industry as well.”
Boyd says the recent success his company has experienced has them putting the ‘pedal to the metal’ in ensuring they can meet increased demand going forward. Just recently, they invested over $1,000,000+ into new, state-of-the-art machinery, which will go towards furthering their production capabilities, including the implementation of large-scale mandrels and pipe winding machines, among which they already hold several patents on. They are also currently expanding their operations in Ocean Springs, and thereafter construction of numerous additional production sites. “With our facilities and their strategically targeted locations, we can handle any scale of project while also providing the ability to ship or build anywhere internationally as well,” he says, adding, “here at Augusta Fiberglass we are highly ambitious in our approach towards our work and through a focus on safety and quality, we have established ourselves as a trusted source.”
Working hard to create a family-like, employee-oriented company, Boyd likes to think of Augusta Fiberglass as an ideal example of how one can make it in America, proclaiming, “To have started where we were, and to have jumped into a new business and risen to where we are today, I think it’s a testament to this country and the opportunities available to each and every individual.”
It’s a far cry from his original farm, but 40 years later it looks like John Boyd got into the right business. With an innovative and hardworking staff, growing demand from a slew of industries, and a leader at the helm with a straightforward and steady mindset, the next 40 years look to be even better for Augusta Fiberglass.