Investing in the Future

Federal Foam Technologies
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

With its origins going back over 75 years, Federal Foam Technologies, Inc. is a company with a rich heritage and a bright future. Far from resting on its laurels, Federal Foam doesn’t rely on its reputation to generate progress but instead continues to invest in itself to the benefit of the company, its employees, and its customers.

An industry leader in the custom fabrication of flexible cellular and plastic materials, Federal Foam serves clients in agriculture, construction, power sports, medical, retail and consumer products, and other sectors. While doing so, Federal Foam has acquired considerable business assets, completed a 100,000-square-foot warehouse expansion, earned an EcoVadis Silver Sustainability Rating, purchased additional industrial property, invested in machinery, and became a certified women-owned business.

“To say that we’re experiencing growth is kind of an understatement,” says Todd R. Kidder, Federal Foam’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “We’re expanding in many areas.”

Federal Foam’s roots trace back to the founding of Federal Paper Stock Company in 1914, which expanded into the polyurethane market in the late 1950s. Growing through a series of acquisitions and new business ventures over the decades, parent company Federal International Inc.’s family of companies today includes Federal Foam Technologies, Federal Recycling & Waste Solutions, and Federal Eco Foam.

“For over 75 years, we’ve been supplying our customers with millions of components of the highest quality foam, fiber, and plastic material in markets all over the world including agriculture, construction, power sports, truck/bus, medical, industrial, and retail/consumer products industries,” says President and CEO Wyman Smith. “The company has grown tremendously over the last few years with various acquisitions, investment in new equipment, and new talent brought in.”

To keep up with demand, Federal Foam recently purchased an industrial building and land near its New Richmond, Wisconsin facility. “As our company continues to grow its customer base, expanding our infrastructure allows us to extend our reach, enhance our offerings, and continue to build a robust team,” says Smith.

Kidder adds that, “This expansion is a testament to our continued success and growth as a company. With two locations near one another, we’re looking forward to reinforcing our state-of-the-art plant operations in New Richmond with additional space, capacity, and talent.” The 47,000-square-foot building on 4.3 acres will be converted and up and running this year.

Along with the building and land acquisition, Federal Foam constantly invests in making manufacturing more efficient. The company’s latest investments include a new vacuum former, robotic waterjet, and die press for its New Richmond facility, and a new CNC foam-cutting machine for its Ellsworth facility. The company is also upgrading processes at all its facilities over the next 12 to 24 months to further expand capacity, an investment of over $2 million.

These investments secure the future growth of Federal Foam, says Mark Siegfried, Director of Operations. “Part of it is having the capacity to meet our customers’ needs. Some of the equipment has newer technology than our older, legacy equipment, which will help us further enhance our processing capabilities and energy efficiency.”

Federal International, Inc. has been a private, family-owned business since 1914. In 2022, the ownership transitioned to fourth-generation women family members, which allowed the company to be certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) Midwest last year. To qualify, businesses must be at least 51 percent owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women.

Federal Foam’s President Smith says there are many benefits to female ownership. It lets employees, suppliers, and customers know that this is a diverse, inclusive company. “We embrace all kinds of different people from all walks of life,” he says, “and it’s exciting. I’ve been with the company for almost 40 years, managing the Federal Foam business, and it’s been part of my nature to have a diverse team. Having a diverse staff and workforce brings a lot of different viewpoints into running the business. It also makes us more attractive in certain bid situations, and some of our customers are looking to have suppliers that have diverse ownership.”

Although the recent WBENC certification is a considerable milestone, Federal Foam has long been a company of inclusion, with many of the women within the company filling key roles. Two out of five executive staff members at Federal Foam are female, as are many working at management levels and on the production floor.

“We’re pretty diverse in our workforce,” adds Smith. “It’s not dominated by any one gender, race, or anything else. I only see us further increasing our workforce diversity.”

Satisfying the need for foam in markets as diverse as industrial, commercial vehicles, healthcare, fenestration, and crafts creates waste, and Federal Foam takes an active role in sustainability.

Federal Foam’s scrap urethane foam trim is 100 percent recycled, and some is baled and sold back into industries that create re-bond foam. Although Federal Foam doesn’t itself maintain the capabilities to re-process the material, the company uses re-bond foam for some of its products.

Products that cannot be re-processed into usable materials do not go to landfills but become waste-to-energy fuel. And outside of polyurethane foam, Federal Foam sends its plastics back to its plastics supplier.

“We take that scrap and interject it into our raw material because we can have a certain amount of what is called re-grind that goes into the raw materials,” Smith explains. “So how much we send them will depend on how much goes into our product. From that standpoint, it’s full-circle recycling for our plastics.”

Sustainability also runs throughout other branches of the Federal family of companies. Federal Recycling & Waste Solutions provides recycling and waste management services for commercial businesses, helping them develop more profitable, sustainable operations. For over half a century, Federal Eco Foam has led the way in recycling polyurethane foams into innovative, high-performing products for diverse applications and industries.

To keep up with changes in the industry, Federal Foam attends trade shows such as Foam Expo North America 2023, which was held in late June. At the Expo, the company also unveiled some of its recent marketing and new branding, which will accompany Federal Foam’s re-vamped website, launching in the coming months.

Many factors continue setting Federal Foam apart from the competition, from its diverse high-quality product and service offerings to its people. “We’ve got some high-caliber, qualified individuals in key areas, whether it be operations, engineering or sales, to make projects successful, not only for us but for the customer,” says Siegfried of the company’s 350+ strong staff. “Being transparent and innovative in our approach is one of our strongest attributes.”

Considerable growth over the years means Federal Foam is no mom-and-pop shop, but still structured in such a way that the company remains extremely flexible. Unlike some companies, there aren’t multiple layers of management to slow down approval processes.

“We’re pretty nimble in our ability to react, get feedback to customers, and make decisions,” says Smith. “That continues to be an asset to us.”

AUTHOR

CURRENT EDITION

Making the Smart Grid Smarter

Read Our Current Issue

PAST EDITIONS

Inclusive Workplaces

December 2023

Regaining Ground

November 2023

October 2023

October 2023

More Past Editions

Featured Articles