Meet Fiberon: the manufacturing company that takes outdoor living spaces to the next level with an eco-friendly approach.
There’s something magical about a deck. It’s home to cold drinks, snoring dogs, discarded tennis shoes and barbeques. With a few pieces of outdoor furniture, it becomes a gathering space for friends and family, and, if the layout is just right, it’s the perfect spot to darken tan lines or snooze in the shade.
While most of these images conjure up thoughts of a traditional, wood-stained deck, there’s an alternative that’s quickly taking over the market.
“We love wood, but we believe trees should be shade in your backyard, not something you walk on,” said Fred Goins, plant manager for Fiberon. “We’ve created a product that’s positive for the environment and for our customers.”
With production plants in New London, North Carolina, and Meridian, Idaho, Fiberon manufactures composite decking using more than 95% recycled product, including sawdust and nuisance materials from mills and wood processing plants.
“Our product is made to mimic wood decking, but in a much more ecofriendly way,” said Fred. “The average wooden deck in the United States takes 11 trees to manufacture. Based on the number of decks being built with Fiberon material, we’re saving close to 1 million trees from being cut down each year. That’s nearly 15,000 football fields of forest.”
The recycled wood used in the manufacturing of Fiberon’s decking is paired with 100 million pounds of recycled plastic each year to create their final composite material and help the earth breathe a sigh of relief.
“Think of a plastic bag from the grocery store,” Fred said. “The average family uses 1,500 of those bags each year, with only about 12 minutes of use per bag before they end up in the trash. A single Fiberon deck board uses nearly 2,000 of those bags.”
According to Fred, plastic is a great material, but due to its 1,000-year-long lifespan, it should be used in products that are meant to last a long time rather than in disposables.
Longevity isn’t the only benefit of Fiberon’s unique alternative to wood decking. Customers who build with Fiberon experience the added benefits of lower maintenance, lower costs over time and increased safety, without losing the look and feel of wood. It’s apparent that these benefits are highly sought-after, as the 18-acre Meridian site produces 300,000 pounds of shippable decking boards each day, and rising.
“Our greatest challenge is growth,” said Fred. “We have a great team but managing capacity can be difficult. As consumers continue to realize that composite decking is a beautiful, high-character wood alternative that won’t harm the environment, our business continues to explode.”
Fred emphasizes that whether you run a tenured company like Fiberon or you’re just starting out, a key to success – especially through growth spurts – is to focus on culture.
“It’s important to intentionally model the behaviors you want out of your teams and put systems in place that will encourage that kind of behavior. If you focus on numbers, numbers, numbers, your team will only focus on numbers, numbers, numbers. Don’t lose sight of your ideal culture.”
Fred feels fortunate to live in Idaho where universities and local businesses have strong partnerships that feed into a highly sought-after workforce, but he has another secret weapon when it comes to innovation and long-term success.
“I’ve been involved with SWIMA since almost the very beginning,” said Fred. “It’s something I’m passionate about.”
Fred points to trainings, partner presentations and networking opportunities as priceless advantages of a SWIMA membership. In particular, he recommends taking part in site tours where companies can learn best practices and explore new resources. For example, during a tour at Motive Power, his team noticed lines drawn outside to keep pedestrians safe in high-traffic areas; a safety measure they went on to implement at Fiberon.
“When our employees have opportunities to interact with other businesses, they come back with a ton of new ideas and the manufacturing industry in Idaho continues to get better through that resource sharing.”
To learn more about Fiberon, visit https://www.fiberondecking.com.