Join the people of Fibrebond as we discuss industry trends and what's new with our company.
To support the nation’s critical infrastructure, Fibrebond couldn’t shut down during the pandemic. Halting operations, even for a short period, was not an option. Fibrebond’s Vice-President of Supply Chain and Manufacturing Support, Martee Gonsoulin, said the company had to act quickly to put procedures, safeguards and practices in place to ensure worker safety so that business could continue during COVID-19. “Early on, Louisiana was one of the hot spots for COVID-19," Gonsoulin said. "So, back in February, we began to dive in and look at the details of what would be needed to combat the pandemic, and, by the end of February/early March, we put in place policies we felt needed to happen to keep our folks safe.” Fibrebond continued to get policies and procedures in place through March before Louisiana's March 30 stay-at-home mandate. Gonsoulin credited her 20-plus years in pharmaceutical manufacturing for providing insight and much-needed experience in preparing for this unforeseen event. “All of the sudden, some of the background I have with dealing with the FDA, CDC and pharmaceutical science really played into my helping shape and draft policies to help employees feel safe here," she said. What were some of the measures Fibrebond took to keep its employees safe? “We have many employees in production who work in close quarters with other people,” Gonsoulin said. “We knew we had to put measures in place to keep those folks as safe as possible and continue to support customers and the infrastructure.” From temperature scans for every employee or person entering the facility to health questionnaires, isolating employees to specific buildings, staggered work shifts with zero interaction between shift changes, face coverings for all employees, and outdoor breakroom setups, increased designated restrooms and work-at-home policies for most administrative and professional staff, Fibrebond left no stone unturned in its mission to make worker safety priority No. 1.
16 min 5 sec
The data center industry was expecting 2020 to be a year of growth, said Hector Moreno. But Moreno, the Director of Business Development, Data Centers at Fibrebond, and his colleagues had no idea just how much growth that would be. The coronavirus pandemic sent everyone into their homes, with work, school and play all relying on home connections that ultimately relied on data centers firing on all cylinders. The projections for the year were going to be blown out of the water. “I think as soon as the pandemic hit, a lot of their acceleration and demand validated those initial plans,” Moreno said. “From a macro level, it’s really increased everybody’s pressure to build. In this space, there’s always sort of a push-pull, cart before the horse, if I build it will they come or just build it just in time, but our customers really want their space as soon as possible.” It’s a trend that seems unlikely to go away any time soon, even as regulations meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 begin to lift. With companies like Fibrebond benefiting from the work-from-home tools they set up prior to the pandemic and seeing things go well as most employees put in their hours remotely, there may be a shift toward requiring less time in the office. That will require data centers to keep improving and perhaps getting even closer to customers. “Absolutely. I think 100%. I think that you can count on,” Moreno said. “When we’re talking about moving from 10 to 5 milliseconds of latency, it’s a big difference. Companies that have strong WiFi networks in their facilities or strong fiber networks don’t really have this issue, but one of the issues coming out of this is, now, you have families putting a huge strain on us. So how do we get to that market?”
14 min 36 sec
What do you do when boomtown and processing location are hundreds of miles away? If you’re Fibrebond, you devise a solution that involves floating a building with a name reminiscent of the Transformers down the Red River. It’s another example of how the business is looking to accommodate its customers’ needs. With liquified natural gas exports booming along the Gulf Coast and the recent discovery of natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids in the Permian Basin, customers have been looking for the best way to power their processes. MegaMod from Fibrebond gives them an option for single-piece building delivery, improving on previous iterations. “The key difference between MultiMod and MegaMod is that it’s obviously a lot bigger,” said Chet Carpenter, Fibrebond’s Business Development Manager. “The other is the delivery method. These, obviously, once they’re put together, can’t go down the road. (With) a MultiMod, each module is small enough to get on a truck, go to a site, get pieced together there and then integrated. “The MegaMod goes down the river, which is the only viable method of transportation once it gets this big, and ends up somewhere along the coast.” Why go big? In Carpenter’s eyes, there are three reasons. “There’s really a ton of benefit there with a building that shows up fully assembled as opposed to one that shows up with multiple pieces needing to be assembled on site, so I would say efficiency, quality and even safety are three major factors, there,” he said. Not only does it keep on-site labor costs low, but it reduces the possibility for leaks and other issues that may pop up with multi-segment delivery. There’s little doubt that MegaMod is a big solution for customers along the Gulf Coast.
14 min 32 sec
Fibrebond has solutions in several different markets; gensets, data centers, power, telecom, and more. With that diverse reach, it's critical for the company to not spread itself too thin and maintain high quality products and service regardless of the job. What is their secret sauce for pulling it off? On this episode of Building a Better Bond, we're joined by Chase Cook, who brings solutions to building client relationships at Fibrebond. Cook is the Director of Business Development for Fibrebond's Power division; he brings his diverse industry knowledge to Fibrebond to help the company position themselves as the industry’s experts. Relationships are a huge part of what Fibrebond does, and Cook said they have the experience to simplify projects their clients want to build. On this episode, he went into a little history of Fibrebond in order to explain where they are now. He said they used to be a telecommunications company but have expanded to oil, natural gas, packing generators, and more; with all the different things they are involved in, Cook said it now allows them to drive the power, data, and telecommunications segments together to strengthen their position in the market. Oil and gas companies had record numbers last year and Texas had a record year as well, supplying 41% of the total oil and natural gas in the US. Cook said that the technical sales team sees over one billion dollars in sales every year. He said that because of the high volume of business they are able to look through their data to find out what is most important to clients and consumers. Cook said that Fibrebond has been in business for 38 years, and they are known for taking a unique approach in their business partnership.
47 min 22 sec
Many industries can change, some seemingly overnight. Others can take years to complete their makeover. On this episode of Building a Better Bond, Randy Bogan, Warehousing Director for Fibrebond, sat down with Sean Heath to discuss the nature and rate of change in the industry. The nature of business is change, but that helps a company grow, according to Bogan. “You have to really be on your toes, now," he said. "There’s a lot going on daily. Time flies by. It’s very, very busy, and it’s just a lot going on with the product lines that we have.” After leaving the company for several years, although there may have been several product changes, the sense of family was there the moment he returned, Bogan explained. “We all like each other," he said. "We get along, because we know that, in order for Fibrebond to succeed, everyone has to succeed and do their job and do it correctly.”
10 min 51 sec
Perspective is crucial for a good salesperson, especially if it includes the technical expertise of an engineer. On this episode of Building a Better Bond, a Fibrebond podcast, Sarah Clements, Technical Sales Representative for Fibrebond, sat down with Sean Heath to discuss the importance of flexibility and stability in the industry. The ability to look for a solution through the engineer’s eyes is an invaluable asset, according to Clements. “When I look at a floor plan, I can engineer: Well, if you move this piece of equipment 10 feet to the left, or switch here or switch it right, and you can decrease the cost for power circuits and all of these other things," she said. "That’s something that really helps when you’re talking about dollars and cents.” An engineer’s mindset also comes into play when a new design approach is needed for a unique challenge, Clements explained. “You have to look at the environmental factors, the soil conditions, the wind conditions, rain, the heat," she said. "You have to look at everything - where it is going, the slope of the roof, the door placement. These are all things that, when you pick us, we’re going to look at, and we’re going to design it to its best qualities.”
12 min 36 sec
On this Building a Better Bond jobcast, host Daniel Litwin was joined by Michael Hochstetler, Project Manager at Fibrebond, to discuss Fibrebond’s open Project Manager position. A Fibrebond Project Manager is the customer’s single in-house contact, who oversees all project-related tasks, and directs production from estimation to engineering. Daniel kicked off the discussion with a 30-second speed round where Hochstetler provided a quick overview of the key job points, i.e., job location, hours, days, travel requirements, years of experience needed, educational requirements, and career path expectations. Hochstetler next described the types of projects this position would typically work on, from small scale building projects, to the big picture, multi-modular building project. When asked by Daniel, what type of fictional character most embodies this project manager role, Hochstetler responded with Kevin Costner’s role in the movie Draft Day. The challenges that Costner’s character goes through in a single day, and all of the various moving parts he needs to navigate makes a great analogy for the types of challenges the Fibrebond Project Manager will go through. Hochstetler pointed out that just because this is a role inside a manufacturing environment doesn’t mean it isn’t creative. Fibrebond is looking for ‘out of the box’ thinking that relies on creativity to solve both internal and external project problems. The conversation wrapped up with Hochstetler mentioning training is an important part of the onboarding process Fibrebond will focus on with this Project Manager position, and he also said one of the most exciting parts of the interview process is when candidates get to see the facility for themselves. If you’d like to apply for this open Project Manager position, go to fibrebond.com/careers, or email your resume and/or internal application directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
15 min 45 sec
The devastating ripple effect of an injury on the job can ultimately wreck business, and ruin livelihoods. It’s no wonder Fibrebond has invested heavily in workplace safety to avoid the ravages of an incident on the job. The steel and concrete corporation has implemented an approach known as “behavior-based safety,” a multi-layered program that has re-defined company safety culture and opened up an ongoing dialogue with employees. As a guest on this episode of Building a Better Bond, we learn how Fibrebond has embraced this strategy, and how other companies can too, with Martee Gonsoulin —Vice President of Supply Chain Manufacturing at Fibrebond. After watching her father incapacitated by a workplace injury, and suffering from a ski accident herself, Gonsoulin was all too familiar with the debilitating effects of being out of work. With over twenty-two years of experience in Pharmaceuticals manufacturing, Gonsoulin returned to the workforce at Fibrebond, using her comprehensive expertise to explore how workplace safety could be implemented differently. “We’re all influenced by what happens around us,” she said, explaining how safety should be approached with positive reinforcement and a sense of community. “It's all about changing people’s mindset and learning the habits of safety." Using measurable benchmarks, installing observational tracking, and instigating actionable changes, Gonsoulin's behavior-based safety approach transformed the safety environment at Fibrebond. Her advice to other companies looking to improve their safety culture is sage and simple—open an honest dialogue with your employees. "If you improve that, you’re improving all areas of your business,” she said.
22 min 43 sec
Generator enclosures are evolving as the industry demands bigger, better, and more generator sets. In this episode of Building a Better Bond with Fibrebond, host Daniel Litwin sat down with Brett Dean, business unit director for Fibrebond, to break down the growth of genset solutions, why emergency and back-up generators are evolving, and how enclosure designs are evolving alongside them. Because data centers must have a continuous source of power, they rely on backup generators or generator sets when its primary power source goes down. But gensets are evolving as the high demand for data centers continues to skyrocket. “In the early 2000s, there were co-location providers. But now these large cloud service providers are the ones that I don’t think the market could have forecasted what their demand was going to be,” Dean said. As such, generator sets in the past decade have increased in size, fuel tank capacities, and unit quantities. Plus, there’s the demand for lower sound ratings with all these bigger, better but louder generators. But just as urgently as data centers must be up and running, so must gensets and their ensuing enclosures. That’s why the demand for modular prefab units is so intrinsically tied to growth in the data center market, Dean explained. “Even though the generator itself is in creating in its kilowatt output, the end user may still have a physical footprint restriction so you have to be innovative in how you are arranging items within the enclosure,” he said. To meet these design requirements, Fibrebond has created innovative quality control processes to ensure client’s enclosure needs are met. “At Fibrebond, we’re providing the shelter, fuel tank base, and any integration needed on that generator to make it as reliable as they desire,” Dean said.
20 min 30 sec
To build data centers efficiently, safely, and inexpensively, manufacturers are turning to prefabrication as an accessible, trusted, and standardized solution. Faster, cheaper, and safer are all great reasons alone to use prefab units, but sustainability is a growing issue at stake. In this episode of Building a Better Bond with Fibrebond, host Daniel Litwin spoke about the emerging discussion of data center sustainability with Hector Moreno [contributor page], director of business development Data Centers for Fibrebond. The Louisiana-based company just wrapped up at Data Center Dynamics, or DCD, in San Francisco, a show that explores the intersection of future data center needs with sustainable infrastructure. "If you think about the sustainability of data centers, it doesn't get a lot of play nationally but in the future it will because we consume so much energy in data centers," Moreno said. "Energy isn't cheap. It's not an unlimited resource. So, how we use it and manage it will be very important." Tech giants and heavy data users such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Uber were at the DCD conference to take part in the conversation. Electrical contractors who are leading the charge by investing heavily in modular prefab units attended the conference as well. "When you see big electrical contractors—who would not typically take something out of their traditional construction builds—put it into a prefab setting, that gives you an indication this is not a novelty," Moreno said. "It's taking off." Also in this episode, Moreno breaks down his hottest takes from DCD, as well as analyzes trends in generator enclosure and prefab affecting data center construction.
25 min 46 sec
Construction industry trends are causing a comeback for an age-old process: prefabricated construction. Not always a favorite within the industry, conceptions on prefabricated construction have slowly become more positive. Our guest today on this episode of Building a Better Bond explains why this is opening doors to safer, faster and cheaper construction. “With the original mindset thinking about conventional construction versus prefab, the first thing that goes through someone’s head is that prefab is a little shed in the backyard that’s holding a lawnmower,” Sean Black, business development manager at Fibrebond, said. “As the years have gone on, and people like me educating the industry and showing them we’re not talking about this little thin-gauge shed. We’re talking about a substantial building with a 14- to 11-gauge steel, heavy weight.” Black, a former electrician who’s been in the construction industry for more than 20 years, discusses what’s making this trend stick and what the advantages are over brick-and-mortar. He usually points to three particular aspects of prefab as why it’s been gaining a growing interest in recent years. The first advantage is protection against inclement weather delays, which can wreak havoc on a tight timeline. Even when a project uses overtime to help catch up, that cost affects the bottom line. Black said prefab manufacturers work indoors all the time, so delivery times are not affected by the weather. Black said the second advantage is how gear is handled in a prefab environment. In a traditional construction site, switchgear motor controls require large amounts of dedicated space where it’ll be housed. If that building is not totally secure, costly damage can occur — again affecting the bottom line. “The third and for me most important advantage is safety,” Black said. The priority for site managers or superintendents is always the safety of its workers. “But it’s hard to have eyes and ears everywhere,” he said. Prefab materials assembled off-site help reduce the likelihood for accidents to occur on-site. Fibrebond’s plant has multiple supervisors on site, walking about to ensure safety measures are being followed. “Also, just the sense that everybody is looking out for everybody else helps keep people safe,” he said.
36 min 44 sec
Many companies are designed with values and virtues in mind. Fibrebond, a leader in the manufacturing of mission critical structures, is no different, considering itself built on a firm basis of Christian faith. It’s embedded into the company’s and the city of Minden, Lousiana's culture, and actually had a significant influence on the founding of the company. To discuss how Fibrebond’s foundation of faith shapes the company, Durwin Adams, manufacturing supervisor and onsite chaplain, breaks down the company's decision to bring a chaplaincy program to their employees. Adams is also the senior pastor at Faith Memorial Baptist Church in Gibsland, Louisiana. “The founder of the company, Claud Walker, was led by the Lord to start the company and bring this business to the community of Minden. His Christian faith was a guiding principle in starting Fibrebond,” Adams said. And Adams knows about those beginnings, as he has been with Fibrebond his entire professional career and calls the company a “family environment” full of “great, loving people.” To connect employees and offer them support, the company began exploring starting a chaplaincy program. “I was a part of the building engagement team, and we saw that creating a chaplaincy program could be a great way to live out our Christian values. We began researching what a program would entail and how to implement. We also met with many employees for their feedback. Then we presented our research to the executive team. The program has been well received and embraced by many,” Adams said. The program is very unique in that most companies don’t offer this level of support. “Many companies have employee assistance programs that offer support with an 800 number. Whereas we have individuals, that are ordained ministers, on-site that are here to help employees when they face life’s challenges. Knowing that they have this opportunity is something really special.” Listen to the full podcast as Durwin shares more stories about the chaplaincy program and what it’s brought to the employees and the community.
18 min 12 sec
Data is a powerful tool for many businesses, but collecting and analyzing it to drive change can be challenging. Especially in the manufacturing industry, where machinery and software pull an array of data points, how do you take that data and turn it into wins for your company? On today’s episode of Building a Better Bond, we’re joined by Nathan George, Director of Manufacturing Analytics & Optimization at Fibrebond. George, although relatively new at Fibrebond, has a long history of working with data in manufacturing and using it to optimize efficiencies, which on the plant floor can be tricky. “When collecting data on the plant floor, it can’t be a burden to employees. It has to be seamless,” he said. He also shared where many companies run into problems with data. “Usually the problems that companies run into is not gathering holistic data or not collecting data over a long enough span of time. You can’t usually understand the story without at least a month of data.” While George has only been analyzing data at Fibrebond for a short time, he’s already made a significant impact. “First, we started with what we wanted to solve. Much of this revolves around efficiency and downtime. Downtime is obviously a huge factor for any manufacturer, but we wanted to dig deeper. We want to understand why there was downtime and how our forecast for the time needed to complete a project versus the actual time,” he said. Analyzing the data is only half the battle; collecting it also a challenge. Fibrebond couldn’t do it with rudimentary approaches like merely jotting down notes. So, the company innovated and built an app. “We created a custom app that collects data around downtime or excess time. In about a minute, anyone can record what’s going on. Although we’ve only been using for a while, it’s already effective, and we’re continuing to educate employees, so they see the value,” George said. Knowing what’s happening on the plant floor is an insight any manufacturer would want to have. Listen to the entire podcast to learn more about the work Fibrebond is doing and how other companies can succeed in data integration.
21 min 34 sec
Claud Walker, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Fibrebond, a company that builds innovative and reliable structures that protect people and mission critical equipment, has hired hundreds of people over the course of his career. There could not be a more aptly named business for Walker, who believes that people are everything and that the bond is the most important part of becoming successful company. His family, in the sawmill business since 1848, migrated to Louisiana in the early 1920s because of the abundance of pine trees in the region. The Walker family has been through a lot of hardships in its almost 200 years in business, and has faced many obstacles throughout the years. It is all part of the ups and downs of work and life, according to Walker. “You just take what the good Lord gives you and you go from there,” Walker said. Wanting to carve his own path, Walker established Fibrebond in the mid-80s. Not long after, Fibrebond was met with its first potentially company-ending challenge. In 1999, their plant burned to the ground, and the damage was thought by many to be too much to overcome. However, Claud Walker showed up the very next day and promised that employees would not miss a single paycheck, that they would rebuild, and that they would be back better than ever. Not only did he keep his word, but he encouraged employees to take pride in the rebuild, even convincing them to autograph the very beams that held it up. Walker believes that it is his honor to be able to create something of value and utility, and that he had to just go for it. Finding the qualified people with the right disciplines is the most important part, and he believes that “it all starts with the people, and not the product.” After all, the people design it, make it, and sell it-- so without each person doing their job, the company wouldn’t have much. For Walker, building a better bond happens when you build a better team.On this Building a Better Bond, we chronicle the life and journey of Claud Walker, founder of Fibrebond, and a man who always knew he was destined to follow in his family's entrepreneurial footsteps.
39 min 3 sec
Today’s Careers Podcast explores the position of Design Engineer at Fibrebond we speak with Stephanie Jordan, Director of Marketing & Employee Development at Fibrebond to learn more about the hands-on, creative and personable role. Along with the basics, you'll get to hear Jordan: describe why Tony Stark would flock to this job, compare Fibrebond to a film's opening sequence, and highlight what makes Fibrebond stand out among its competitors.
7 min 25 sec
As data usage continues to grow across all industries, the need for efficiency increases exponentially. That trend is having a profound impact on the construction side of data centers. On today’s podcast, our host had a chance to speak with Hector Moreno, the Director of Business Development Data Centers for Fibrebond. They discussed a few challenges on the construction side of these mission-critical buildings, the varying rules that each state develops, how environmental factors are a basic part of design, and a relatively new approach to deployment of a custom solution.
18 min 19 sec