Southwestern Foam leading the way
Sunday, 08 July 2012 by Chuck Kelly
As the "Green" or environmental market continues to grow in America, it's interesting to point out that a company that leads the industry in making "green" happen is located right here in Belton — Southwestern Foam Technologies, located at 1106 Industrial Park Road.
The manufacturing plant was opened about 17 years ago and is a sister-company of the much-larger Grand Rapids Foam Technologies in Michigan.
The Vice-President of Operations here is Alan L. Niswonger, who left a large publicly-owned business to join the company six years ago in what he says has been a great venture. Niswonger is responsible for every aspect of the local plant but points out that his production plant manager, Jim Caballero, is the "go-to" guy.
"This is a Christian-based, family-oriented company that tries to be a good corporate citizen of the community," he explained. "We have 18 extremely competent employees and our employee benefits are exceptional. We're family owned and operated."
Southwestern Foam brings in flexible polyurethane foam, used primarily for seating in home and office furniture, marine products like boats, etc., and cuts the very large blocks into various sizes and shapes for specific uses.
"Turnkey solutions are our specialty, customized for each specific order" stated Niswonger. "Office seating...using vinyl, leather, etc... is our forte and, I guess, second would be the marine industry...helm chairs and boat interiors."
Turnkey means everything from design support and prototyping to property testing and fulfillment for the customer.
Niswonger pointed out that Southwestern Foam has a design product development and design engineer on staff and does a great deal of special designs for its customers. Most competition, he said doesn't have this capability. "We solve their problems with recommendations for real solutions," he explained.
Southwestern Foam's employees range from manual labor to large, computer-controlled machinery in the plant. They can cut three-dimensional profiles in the foam. Most of the employees are machine operators.
GRFT was among the first in the industry to embrace the concept of environmental sustainability and over the past several years has worked to develop its Bio-content foam which currently features improved overall physical properties that gets the Green Stamp of Approval
"I believe that we're one of the largest molded polyurethane companies in the country. Our mission is to provide unprecedented value to our customers, our employees and our community that we thrive in," Niswonger concluded. "We're finding quality people in the local labor force. It's easy to work with local officials. Belton is just an excellent place for someone to build a business with an ideal radius for shipping in all directions."