Engineered Systems: Could you please introduce yourself to our audience?
Scott Balogh: My name is Scott Balogh, and I’m the president and CEO of Mar-Bal Inc.
Engineered Systems: Please introduce Mar-Bal to those who are reading this.
Balogh: One of America’s fastest-growing, privately held companies and composite manufacturers in North America, Mar-Bal Inc. is celebrating its 50th year. We’re known as ‘The One-Source Solutions Provider.’ The ISO 9001: 2015-registered company has charted a formidable and steady growth trajectory in providing customers with comprehensive thermoset composite solutions, including part design, specialized material formulations, decorating, assembly, and customized automation.
Mar-Bal Inc. operates manufacturing facilities in Ohio, Virginia, and has been a manufacturer in the custom composite, molding, and material manufacturing industry since its founding in 1970.
Engineered Systems: Please share how Mar-Bal’s products may be most beneficial to consulting/specifying mechanical engineers and/or facility managers.
Balogh: Mar-Bal continues to research and formulate advanced materials and develop innovative products via its portfolio of brands and proprietary products to deliver composite solutions that continue to drive customers’ technology and success.
In addition to our benchmarked BMC products that utilize polyester/vinyl ester chemistries, our technical team has been working toward expanding the product offerings. We currently have high-strength products applying vinyl ester and epoxy chemistry (AS-8000, AE-8600 series SMC), low-density (1.0 S.G.) epoxy BMC (AE-6600 series), and a BMC (MB-7000 Series) with a high UL RTI. Our resin offerings include the use of custom-made epoxy resins, vinyl ester, and hybrid systems. To complete our composite portfolio, we also offer carbon fiber in BMC and SMC forms.
Engineered Systems: We’re now into 2021, but, unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is still a global problem. Please share your perspective on this pandemic and how it has impacted your company’s operations.
Balogh: In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the novel COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) outbreak a pandemic. Obviously, this affected manufacturers and people worldwide, and Mar-Bal responded quickly with internal strategies both tactically and strategically.
On the tactical side, everyone was initially faced with the FUD factor: fear, uncertainty, and dread, so establishing protocol early was vital to continuing as an essential manufacturer. Essentially, we became part of the public health community overnight.
Additionally, we ramped up involvement with daily COVID-19-based industry webinars with industry associations (ACMA, NAM, etc.). These briefings would lead to daily internal Mar-Bal briefings with plant, department, and HR managers. These daily tactical preparations allowed us to get ahead of the curve to protect our people while moving production forward.
On the strategy side, a lot has changed in a short period of time, so we focused on a “What can we do now?” strategy and implemented a ‘rolling’ 12-month strategic plan. We were still focused on people first but had to reengage with tough decisions starting with pay cuts from the top. Luckily, we were able to avoid furloughs, and new hires are still happening. Good operating platforms are vital as we’re doubling down on research and development (R&D) while consolidating our compounding to the Ohio plant. Our stronghold of engaging with new customers and product needs remains intact during this crisis.
We’re cautiously optimistic about the post-COVID-19 landscape and acknowledge that the economic environment will shift dramatically moving forward. Notably, the global environment will be completely different, with a more regional focus, and trade will be more difficult. Our people and talent will be even more important so as to capitalize on opportunities in this new landscape.
Engineered Systems: Mar-Bal has been active in bolstering its offerings through acquisitions. Can you mention one or two of these and share how they’ve strengthened your company?
Balogh: In 2020, Mar-Bal merged its AltraSet Composite Technologies company with Riverside, California-based Lattice Composites. The integrated merger will expand Mar-Bal’s composite technologies to now include Lattice’s customized epoxy chemistry systems, providing a unique materials portfolio of polyester and epoxy resin compounds.
As a historical player in polyester and vinyl ester resin-based BMC materials, Mar-Bal’s merger with Lattice will create new opportunities for epoxy based products and material solutions for the composites industry.
This ‘joint-formulation’ merger opens up a flood gate of application possibilities by making our own resins and selling epoxies. Chemical products for adhesives, filament winding resins, and epoxy for specialized composites for SMC and BMC compounds are now vertically integrated into the epoxy world.
Additionally, in 2018 Mar-Bal entered into the construction and safety industry by acquiring all of the assets of both AlertTile® (including AlertCast®) and Detectable Warning Systems (including RediMat™), which are under the umbrella brand of Detectable Warning Systems™ (DWS) as part of the Mar-Bal proprietary family of products. DWS is now one of the industry’s most complete lines of innovative and economical ADA-compliant tactile warning surfaces engineered for visually impaired pedestrians. Ultimately, the DWS acquisition represents a progressive commitment to composites advancement in construction.
Engineered Systems: Are more acquisitions/mergers on the horizon?
Balogh: We will always continue to seek merger opportunities to increase our materials/molding/fabricating businesses, leading with innovation and technology. This will allow us to lead with a strong value proposition of better price points, proprietary products, and performance.
Engineered Systems: In September, the company celebrated its 50th anniversary. Over that period, what’s changed the most and what’s stayed the same?
Balogh: From its inception in 1970 as a thermoset composite molder on Scranton Road in Cleveland, Ohio’s, flats region, the ISO 9001: 2015-registered company has charted a formidable and steady growth trajectory in providing customers with comprehensive thermoset composite solutions, including part design, specialized material formulations, decorating, assembly, and customized automation.
Family-driven since its’ beginning, Mar-Bal has continued to expand its base of leadership from within yet has continuously built a dedicated senior leadership team comprised of CFO, HR, engineering, and sales and marketing executives. An advisory board has been in place for the past 19 years and is comprised of five key advisors outside of the company (and family) that focuses on transitional expansion growth strategies.
The board is an experienced, well-balanced mix of talented people with Wall Street and Main Street backgrounds. We meet quarterly, and they challenge us on key growth strategies in five tiered areas: manufacturing footprint, new and existing markets, people/talent acquisition, diversification/innovation, and product development.
Engineered Systems: What can we expect to occur over the next 50 years at Mar-Bal?
Balogh: As for the next 10 years of Mar-Bal’s growth, more family will be involved, and the next generation of leaders will be groomed on all levels to continue to grow the company.
Beyond that, it’s always going to be about the people and the culture we embody collectively via our “Total Value Commitment” philosophy. Ultimately, the ability to custom formulate to give the customer speed-to-market is what our team will continue to bring, as we are a highly competent and motivated group that thrives on solving problems for customers with the most economic solutions possible.
Conclusively, Mar-Bal, Inc. will continue in the family-owned tradition of stability and commitment to excellence as ‘The One-Source Solutions Provider’ of BMC thermoset composites — design, formulate, compound, mold, and finish.
Engineered Systems: Any major announcements planned for 2021 our audience should be aware of?
Balogh: The integration of Lattice will certainly be a focus in 2021. There are many projects in the pipeline the teams are working on. Early in the process, but as we move through the year, we expect one or two to be noteworthy. Stay tuned.
Engineered Systems: Seeing that the AHR Expo and many other conferences and events have been cancelled, how does the company intend to fill the sales and marketing void this has created?
Balogh: It is a change and a challenge, but I’m confident our sales and marketing leaders will adapt and find ways to connect with our customers and present our capabilities. We are not only looking at 2021 but 2022 and beyond.
Engineered Systems: As we wrap this up, if you could relay one lasting message to consulting and/or specifying engineers, what would it be?
Balogh: We value partnerships and strive to be the best partner we can be. The recent expansion of our materials portfolio (Lattice Composites – Epoxy Chemistry) enables “The One Source Solutions Provider” to offer our customers even more solutions.
Engineered Systems: If readers are interested in connecting with you or Mar-Bal, in general, where should they turn?
Balogh: For more information on Mar-Bal's line of products, visit www.mar-bal.com or call 440-543-7526.