1924 - 1959
The history of Strongwell and its predecessor companies dates back to 1924. In that year the first phase of what is today Strongwell's corporate headquarters and largest plant was built in Bristol, Virginia. Originally a furniture factory, a number of products were built there in the early years including aircraft, radio and TV cabinets and, during World War II, carbon parts for weaponry.
During the 1940's, the first work in reinforced plastics was done at the plant. In 1956 the first production utilizing the process, then known as "the continuous automatic process" and today known as "pultrusion," was done. Three years later in 1959, the company began producing fiberglass ladder rail, which remains a major product for the company today.
1960 - 1971
The company was owned by the Pitcairn family of Philadelphia in the early 1960's. The family sold the company to the Koppers Company of Pittsburgh in 1965. Over the next six years, Koppers brought together a wide variety of reinforced plastics processes in the Bristol plant. These efforts advanced the entire field of reinforced plastics. As the decade of the 60's ended, Koppers disposed of its five fiberglass facilities.
In 1971, Robert S. Morrison, founder of the Molded Fiber Glass Companies of Ashtabula, Ohio, purchased the Bristol plant and facilities and gave it the name Morrison Molded Fiber Glass Company (MMFG).
1972 - 1984
Morrison hired John D. Tickle as President and General Manager in 1972. The new management team decided to focus on pultrusion, and the business began to grow and prosper. Pultrusion sales were less than $1 million in 1972. 1973 through 1984 were marked by rapid and profitable growth. Chief Operating Officer Keith Liskey (now Senior Advisor) joined the Company in 1981.
1985 - 1993
In 1985, the company was purchased by Shell Oil Company, who owned MMFG until July of 1993. During this period the company supplemented internal growth with an aggressive acquisition strategy. Quazite Inc. (later renamed Strongwell - Lenoir City Location), with plants in Lenoir City, Tennessee and San Jose, California, was acquired along with AFC, Inc. (now Strongwell's Chatfield Location), of Chatfield, Minnesota, and PTI in Twinsburg, Ohio.
In 1993 the company was purchased from Shell by John Tickle, members of his family and an outside investor, and again became an independent, private company.
1994 – 1997
The Company continued to grow rapidly and profitably during this period, and was renamed Strongwell Corporation to establish a stronger, unified, global identity.
The PTI Location was closed and the machinery operations of that location relocated to Bristol.
Also during 1997, the newly constructed Highlands Location opened in Washington County, Virginia, and all Strongwell pultrusion locations (Bristol, Chatfield and Highlands) became ISO-9001:2000 certified.
1998 – 2001
During this period, John Tickle and his family gained 100% ownership of Strongwell.
The company formed a limited liability company with Ebert Composites in 1999 to market power poles developed by Ebert.
Strongwell acquired 100% ownership of the LLC in 2001, dissolved it, and merged power poles in as a Strongwell product. The first highway bridge using the Strongwell 36" deep carbon and glass reinforced bridge girder as the main structural members was opened in Sugar Grove, Virginia in the fall of 2001.
2002 - 2010
On June 1, 2006, Strongwell sold its polymer concrete business to Hubbell Incorporated.
The sale of the Lenoir City Location of Strongwell included the company’s two polymer concrete plants in San Jose, California and Lenoir City, Tennessee.
Strongwell Corporation now focuses solely on its core competency—pultrusion.
In January 2011, G. David Oakley Jr. joined Strongwell as its President and Chief Executive Officer. John D. Tickle, the company’s majority stockholder, relinquished the president’s role after nearly 40 years, but remains involved in the business as Strongwell's Chairman of the Board.
In March 2011, A. Keith Liskey retired as Director of Operations after having served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer until 2009. Liskey assumed the part time staff position of Senior Advisor. In July 2011, Glenn Barefoot was appointed Vice President of Business Development and Marketing.
In October 2012, David Gibbs was promoted to Vice President of Sales and Engineering.
In May 2014, Mike Jaszewski was promoted to Vice President of Minnesota and Mexico Operations. Ground was broken on the Mexico facility later that year.
In March 2015, John D. Tickle celebrated 50 years in the Composites Industry. John is recognized globally as an ambassador for the process of pultrusion and has been a champion for its value in the composites marketplace. In July 2015, Angie Barr was promoted to Corporate Secretary and Treasurer.
2016 – Today
In 2016, Strongwell celebrated 60 years in pultrusion. The company launched the heavy duty SAFPLANK HD® fiberglass planking product. In April 2016, the first ladder rails were produced at the Strongwell Mexico facility. Angie Barr was promoted to Chief Financial Officer in October 2016. To expand Virginia Operations’ capabilities, additional high-speed, high-pull-force machines were added to the Highlands facility in 2016-2017.
In 2018, all three of Strongwell’s U.S. facilities achieved ISO 9001: 2015 quality certification.
Today, Strongwell continues to add capacity, diversify its product line, increase its already strong engineering capability, and improve its processes and products.
Strongwell takes pride in the large number of strategic alliances formed with customers in many markets whereby Strongwell works in a team effort with the allied customer to optimize the functionality, process ability, and cost-benefit ratio of products the customer uses or resells.
At any one time, more than 20 active research and development projects are in progress to find solutions for customers, to test new raw materials, or to develop products or processes for the future.
View Strongwell's ISO Certificates for each U.S. location: Bristol, Highlands, and Chatfield.