May 29, 2024 9:29 PM
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ProGlobal’s Dedication to Sustainability

by Kerstan Szczepanski, Exhibit City News

Sustainability is not just a buzzword in the tradeshow industry. It is an action. It is one that can be taken due to a variety of reasons: social consciousness, political trends, legal requirements, or economic necessity. Or it can be a combination thereof.

Today, ProGlobal Products is known for their 100 percent recyclable carpet and artificial turf. However, it wasn’t always that way. Exhibit City News spoke with co-founder Barclay Payne to discuss ProGlobal’s journey to 100 percent recyclable product.

“Forrest Jaquith (co-founder of ProGlobal) and I are both engineers and have been in the carpet and artificial turf market since graduating college. We have close to 60 years of combined experience in these two markets,” Payne begins, when asked about ProGlobals’ start. Forrest Jaquith is his co-founder at the company. 

The two met at BP Amoco Fabrics and Fibers, where the foundation of future success was laid.  “There were so many talented people that influenced our careers and we are so grateful for our time at this company,” says Payne. When BP Amoco divested fabrics and fibers to a private equity group, the two went their separate ways. Says Payne, “We spent about 9 years running other multinational companies in the carpet and artificial turf market. Forrest and I remained great friends while working at different companies. One day, we just started talking about owning our own company. These discussions continued to evolve until one day it was a reality.  Probably the best decision we have ever made!”

Image of ProGlobal’s Carpets

Payne points out sustainability wasn’t foremost when they started ProGlobal. “ProGlobal Products started out as a Sales and Distribution Company,” he says. “We were mainly sourcing products from China and reselling to US manufacturers of carpet and artificial turf. Our business was doing really well.” Then things took a turn.

“A 25 percent tariff was placed on most of the products we were sourcing from China,” Payne says. “This was a very scary time for our company. We thought we would be out of business due to the tariffs. We made the decision that it was in the company’s best interest to manufacture something in the US.” 

It was not a light decision, yet it was a transformative one. “I am not sure we would be manufacturing anything had the tariffs not been implemented. As the saying goes, ‘When the world gives you lemons, make lemonade!’ That is exactly what we did. It is clear that most markets are demanding recyclable and sustainable products. The younger generations of our country are serious about sustainability.” Market forces are not just economic ones. 

How can 100 percent recyclable be financially sound? Payne sees the industry follow as ProGlobal shows viability. “We built a line that allows us to produce products that are only made of like polymers that can be remelted after use into a reusable resin pellet,” says Payne. “The recycled resin pellets can then be remelted to produce other products.” This is a model for many companies, and Payne acknowledges that. “We are not saying that we are the only company that can produce a recyclable carpet or artificial turf.” He does emphasize, “We do believe we are one of the few companies that can do it at an equal and, in most cases, lower cost versus traditional coating technologies for carpet and artificial turf.”

Then, things took a turn yet again. “We had developed the technology by the end of 2019. Our initial focus was to produce carpet for the expo market. Covid hit in early 2020 and suddenly there was not an expo market to sell. We decided to start an artificial turf company in 2020: Tailor Made Grass. Similar to our carpet, it is 100 percent recyclable. This company has done very well.” Jaquith and Payne hired an additional team to run Tailor Made Grass, so that they could re-focus on the expo market. 

Now they have a product that is around 20 percent lighter in weight, easier to cut, does not have filler fall out, does not delaminate when tape is pulled off the back, is less expensive, and 100 percent recyclable.

“We started out as a sales and distribution company with two people,” says Payne. “…operating out of a 17,000 sqft warehouse that we rented in Dalton, GA. We now have two manufacturing companies (ProGlobal Products and Tailor Made Grass). We own a 135,000 sqft plant in Chatsworth, GA. We have over 30 employees, seven tufting machines, our proprietary coating line, and cut tables.  We also own our own trucks and trailers for delivering to our local customer base.” Payne has full confidence that even greater success is ahead. “We know our technology will allow us to change people’s perception of carpet in the expo market. We have heard time and time again that our customers really do not like dealing with carpet. We think we can resolve many of the issues that our potential customers do not like about carpet.”

He explains, “It is a fairly simple process but you must have enough waste to keep a recycling line running,” Payne says. “Dalton, GA is the carpet capital of the world; thus a lot of waste is generated in our area. There are several recyclers around Dalton. They exist because companies realized waste was being generated that could be recycled. Recycling companies were formed and the waste that could be recycled stopped going to the landfill. The expo market will follow the same path once products that are purchased are 100 percent recyclable. The key is making sure the entire product is recyclable. The carpet currently sold into the expo market will never be recycled even though there are components of the carpet that are recyclable. It is far too expensive to try and separate the recyclable components from the nonrecyclable components. It is just cheaper to throw the carpet into the landfill. The first step is to produce a 100 percent recyclable carpet. We have done that at ProGlobal Products. The next step will be to recycle the products.” ProGlobal will become recyclers too. “We have a plan for recycling our carpet and we look forward to sharing this with potential customers.”

Looking back and looking forward, it is obvious that ProGlobal, and Jaquith and Payne, are on a roll. Payne is very enthusiastic about the company’s future, and the future of the industry.

“It took us over two years to develop the technology,” he says. “We quit 6 times and said it could not be done. I believe the thought of losing our company because of the tariffs really drove us to persevere. We continued to make changes to our line and raw materials until we had a marketable product. We are never satisfied. We want to continuously improve our products for our customers. We are excited about our 100 percent recyclable carpet and how we can change perception of carpet at tradeshows. The next five years should be a lot of fun and obviously there will be challenges and obstacles.”

Payne closes with excitement, “We can’t wait.”

 

About ProGlobal

For more information on ProGlobal, please visit their website: proglobalproducts.com. For more information on Tailor Made Grass, please visit their website: www.tailormadegrass.com.

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