Polyguard, a Texas-based manufacturer of membranes and other contaminant barriers, has grown for 25 consecutive years, right through two major recessions–and it’s looking good for the 26th. The 125-employee company recently moved into a new 400,000-square-foot facility, effectively tripling its capacity.
Part of the reason for Polyguard’s growth, says company president Shawn Eastham, is “lower turnover, a better attitude, a better work ethic,” attributable at least in part to its 100% employee ownership. Polyguard also has a broad and diverse customer base, with three divisions selling into different markets in 31 countries. “When pipeline is down because the price of oil has plunged, commercial construction is usually up,” says Eastham. “The divisions support each other.”
The company often capitalizes on innovation, developing many of the products it sells in house. One customer needed a butyl-based product to coat LNG pipelines, which operate at very cold temperatures. Polyguard created one, and then used the technology in other divisions to serve different industries.
For the employees, Polyguard’s success has meant a steadily rising stock value–see below–and an opportunity for a comfortable retirement. A veteran shop-floor employee named José Juan Alvarado has several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of stock in his account. A couple of other employees have more than $1 million.
Polyguard shares financial data with its workers and finds many other ways to build in a sense of belonging. “Working for an employee-owned company makes you take more pride in your work,” says Nancy Prewitt, a technical support specialist. “You look out for the overall benefit of the company because you know that if you do your part, it will ultimately help sell that project and bring in the sales dollars that increase the overall worth of the company.”
Polyguard Facts and Figures
Products: Membranes and other materials that act as barriers against moisture, corrosion, and other contaminants.
Headquarters: Ennis, Texas
Revenues: Approximately $50 million
Stock value increase, 1996-2006: 5X
Stock value increase, 2006-2016: 4X