This article first appeared on mitc.com.
Fiber Materials, Inc. (FMI) designs, develops, and manufacturers high temperature composite materials for air, land, sea, and space. While the core business is defense, FMI also plays a key role in the country’s space program. In collaboration with NASA, they designed a heat shield system for the Mars 2012 rover mission and are currently working on new systems for the Mars 2020 rover mission and the New Frontiers program. Now, FMI is expanding into new commercial markets and seeking international opportunities.
“While the majority of our business is U.S. Defense and Space related, we have no restrictions that would limit our international sales growth plans,” Dan Godbout, Director of Worldwide Sales and Marketing at FMI, said.
“We’re growing right now, both in our core business and new business areas,” Godbout noted. “We’re looking for all types of people to support the growth of the business – mechanical and civil engineers, production workers, machinists, sales engineers, advanced materials experts, chemists, and scientists.”
A privately-owned business for 42 years, FMI was sold to GrafTech International in 2011, becoming part of a public company. Godbout joined FMI two and a half years ago, after a 20-year career in Business Development at Fairchild Semiconductor, with the intent to grow and diversify the business. In December 2016, FMI was purchased by Edgewater Capital Partners and is now a private company again with a focus on growth.
“We want to diversify the business so that we have opportunities in other markets like commercial aerospace, high performance racing, and industrial applications,” Godbout added. “The focus will be in extreme applications where you may have erosive/corrosive or high temperature environments that still require high strength but light weight material.”
In March 2017, FMI was part of the Maine delegation organized by Maine International Trade Center (MITC) at JEC World International Composites Event in Paris, France. In addition to exhibiting in the Maine booth in the U.S. Pavilion, FMI held several one-on-one business matchmaking meetings, arranged by MITC’s contractor in Europe OCO Global.
“MITC’s engagement and encouragement to participate in JEC enabled us to make contacts in new markets and exhibit our new product,” Godbout explained. “We are already seeing success.”
The new product is a breakthrough 3D Polymer Matrix Composite (PMC) material, which earned FMI a 2017 Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE) Innovation Award, winning top honors in the for-profit category. The PMC material is a revolutionary solution for high performance products which require a high strength to weight ratio such as prosthetics, high performance race vehicles, and aerospace.
As a result of their JEC participation last year, FMI gained visibility in new markets and immediate export sales. While he could not name specific teams, Godbout said two high performance auto racing teams are evaluating the PMC materials for the 2018 season. He added that a company in Switzerland is also currently evaluating the product for use in high performance watch faces.
While approximately 1% of FMI’s sales were international in 2017, Godbout hopes to increase that number to 10% in 3 years and 20% in 10 years. FMI will be part of the Maine delegation again in the upcoming JEC World International Composites Event in March 2018 and continue working with MITC to identify other opportunities to expand their commercial markets in Europe.