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Entrepreneurial Profile in BIC Magazine - Thursday, February 16, 2012
BIC EditorialWhen Lewis Dill, CEO and founder of Lewco Specialty Products Inc., started the company out of his home in1985, he wasn’t sure it would succeed. Twenty-four years later, Dill said the heart and soul of the people running his business have advanced Lewco as a premier textile manufacturer and global provider.

BIC Magazine recently visited with Dill to learn more about Lewco’s growth and the strategies that have made the company a success.

Q: What led you to start Lewco?

A: Lewco was started in my home in Baton Rouge, La., in 1985 to provide high-temperature industrial insulation textiles, fabrics, felts, blankets, ropes, tapes, threads and accessories to fabricators who service the industrial processing plants along the Gulf Coast. During this time, fiberglass was replacing asbestos as the primary fiber for making textiles for high-temperature applications and, due to energy shortages worldwide, textiles became popular for industrial insulation applications. This growing market stands true today.

Q: When did you know Lewco would make it?

A: All new business owners are hopeful of success. I believed Lewco would have some degree of success at about the third year when I finally made more money with Lewco than I did with being with my previous employer, Moody Price Inc. However, the steady growth of buying and selling, developing new products and now having an ISO 9000-certified company, manufacturing most of our textiles for sales globally have surprised me the most. Lewco now makes 80 percent of our products here in the United States and only 20 to 25 percent of our business is located along the Gulf Coast.

Q: What was your biggest start-up hardship?

A: My biggest start-up hardship was getting a bank to understand my business and help me finance my growth initially. During the mid 1980s, there were bumper stickers saying, "The last one out,please turn off the lights” due to the oil bust at that time. My first few requests for receivable financing fell on deaf ears.

Q: What is the biggest news in Lewco right now?

A: I have a few big new projects going on at this time. Lewco is forming a joint venture to make E-glass and high-purity, silica-based, needle-felted, mandrel-wound pipe insulations for the industrial and marine markets. Lewco is also developing a process to treat fiber glass fabrics with hydrochloric acid to leach out most of the silica. This turns fiberglass, yarn-based textiles into very high-purity, non-respirable, very high-temperature (3,000 °F) melt fabrics and felts. We have also developed and now manufacture a stainless-steel wire, Kevlar-reinforced sewing thread for our customers. New products are the food for growth for most product makers.

Q: Why is Lewco successful?

A: Good people are at the heart and soul of all successful businesses. I have used Louisiana State University (LSU) as my go-to place for growing Lewco into the future. I like hiring senior interns from LSU who are smart, people oriented and have an entrepreneurial instinct. Making money will come with business projects that are well researched and then well managed. Employees are happy when they feel a part of a successful team and their ideas are used and rewarded.

Click here to view a PDF of Lewco's editorial in BIC Magazine.

For more information,  call us at 1 (800) 221-6414 or contact us here.

 

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