Bill Loeble, senior vice president and chief operating officer with Beaver Manufacturing Co., shows some of the products the company’s treated yarns are used for, including radiator hoses, power steering hoses and common lawn and garden hoses.
Editor's note: In Our Backyard is an ongoing series of articles that will take a look at manufacturing in the East Metro area and inform readers about what types of products are made here. This is the first in the series.
MANSFIELD -- If you drive a car or have a garden hose, chances are you own a product manufactured by Beaver Manufacturing Co.
The Mansfield-based company is an industry leader that produces textile yarn that reinforces a wide variety of rubber and plastic hoses, including washing machine hoses, garden hoses and hoses at gas pumps.
"Virtually every hose in a car --a radiator hose or heater hose -- has our yarn," said Bill Loeble, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Beaver Manufacturing.
Beaver Manufacturing was founded in 1971 by Ed Needham who had previously worked for Bibb Manufacturing Company in Porterdale. Needham developed some ideas for specialized adhesive treatment of yarn, so he and fellow Bibb employee Kenny King struck out on their own and opened Beaver Manufacturing -- named for the national symbol of Needham's native Canada -- in the old cotton warehouse in the heart of Mansfield. A few years later, Needham bought out King and the company has been family-owned ever since.
Today, Beaver Manufacturing employs 140 people and operates three shifts a day, five days a week. It utilizes three plants with a total of 170,000 square feet plus a 15,000-square-foot equipment warehouse.
The old cotton warehouse was torn down and replaced about 10 years ago and is currently Plant 2. Five years later, Beaver Manufacturing purchased Plant 3 on Ga. Highway 213 near Newborn.
The core of Beaver's business centers on treating a variety of fibers with specialized adhesive that is used to reinforce rubber or plastic tubing. Loeble said the three areas of the company's expertise are treatment of the fibers, winding the yarn -- braided, spiral wrapped or knitted-- and packaging so that the spools of treated thread can fit and withstand the machinery used by Beaver's customers.
For example, Loeble said, if a customer of Beaver's needs thread for radiator hoses in cars, Beaver will treat the particular yarn to the specifications of the material used in the hose, wind it the fiber and then package the yarn in a way that will fit that customer's manufacturing equipment.
"Everything is made to our customers' specifications, made to order, really," said Tim Cooper, technical manager with Beaver.
Loeble estimates that Beaver Manufacturing has more than 70 percent of this particular market in North America.
"We are now growing worldwide," he said. "We just formed a marketing partnership with a company in Europe."
Loeble said when he shops at large retail centers, it appears that about 90 percent of the merchandise is made in China.
"But in the lawn and garden section, I would say about 90 percent of those items are made in the USA," he said. "I've never seen a hose made in China. If you have a hose, there was a very good chance the fiber was made here, particularly in rubber hoses."
Beaver's market, as illustrated by green stickers on a world map hung on a wall in the conference room, shows a concentrated presence in the U.S., particularly near Ohio, the heart of the automotive industry.
"Our only real competitor is ourselves," Loeble said.
He said Beaver Manufacturing experienced some tough times at the height of the economic recession, particularly when the automotive industry took severe hits, but has since rebounded.
"Believe it or not," Loeble said, "the automotive market in the last two or three years has been pretty strong. ... It was a short recession for us. I would say we are making at least as much as we were before the recession."
Loeble explained that most products used in vehicles are built to last the life of the car, which is about 10 to 12 years. He said while replacements for of most of the items around the engine, such as power steering hoses or radiator hoses, can be purchased, there is not a large market demand for it.
"The rule of thumb is to build the hose for the life of the car," Loeble said.
He said that over the years, the company's research and development department has built on and improved the original treatment recipes developed by Needham more than 40 years ago, compounds that are under lock and key.
"One thing we have in common with Coca-Cola," Loeble said. "Our recipe is a well-guarded secret."
And like Chick-fil-A, he added, Beaver Manufacturing does not operate on Sundays, something that has raised a few eyebrows around the industry.
But that family-focused spirit permeates throughout Beaver Manufacturing. For example, Loeble said, the company publishes a quarterly newsletter, "Leave It To Beaver," that highlights the achievements and milestones of its 140 employees. The company also views the local community as family.
"Aside from manufacturing, we are known in the community for what we do," Loeble said.
He pointed out that Beaver Manufacturing is a Partner in Education at Mansfield Elementary School, is a financial supporter of the Newton County Arts Association, has donated money to Georgia Perimeter College and the Law Enforcement Academy at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, and donated land for Beaver Park and Fire Station No. 6 on Highway 213.
"The owner and this company have always had a passion for education," Loeble said. "Plus, we feel like we need to be a good corporate sponsor and a good neighbor."