Miles Fiberglass: Clean Economy Products Bring New Life
Last year Miles Fiberglass celebrated 50 years in business. As of five years ago the company had more than 75% of its business in the RVindustry. When the RV industry turned downward, Miles Fiberglass made a concerted effort to diversify its product lines with an emphasis on renewable energy sectors.
They decided to get involved in emerging clean economy sectors, beginning with making parts forsmall and large wind turbines. They started a Wind Service Technician divisionin 2007 and now have twenty technicians who travel the country climbing wind turbines for repair and inspection. Oneof the technicians is President Lori Luchak’s son – she claims he loves thework! These positions, mostly people intheir 20s, pay $30 to $45 per hour plus all expenses.
Two additional new markets they have entered include wave energy and transportation, making component parts for the Portland Streetcars and electric car bodies.
Miles Fiberglass is another example of clean economy sectors reinvigorating American manufacturing. Production of wind turbine components has grown 12-fold to more than 400 facilities in 43 states. Electric vehicles, charging infrastructure and associated parts are another small but rapidly growing manufacturing sector. An interesting characteristic of clean economy manufacturing is that it includes both of brand new companies and products as well as legacy firms like Miles Fiberglass who are retooling to apply decades of know-how to clean economy innovations. Luchak explains, "It hasn't been easy but we knew we were vulnerable having all our eggs in one basket.” She states that diversifying into the wind industry saved their business.