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Flagpole Sales Fly High in Fitzwilliam

Published Wednesday Aug 25, 2021

Author Judi Currie

A PLP Composites craftsman hand-tightens the woven fiberglass in preparation for applying resin to a custom flagpole. Courtesy photo.

A Fitzwilliam company known for its handcrafted flagpoles is experiencing its biggest growth in business since its founding more than 50 years ago, thanks in part to improved branding and an increase in home improvement projects during the pandemic.

Dan Scheerer, president of PLP Composites, who purchased the company three years ago, says the prior owner preferred a lower profile, but with the current hiring strain in manufacturing, he says, “I want to make sure people know who we are and what we do.”

Revenue in 2020 increased about 20%, says Scheerer. “But we are still very much a small company, hitting just shy of $4 million last year. We recognize that fiberglass flagpoles are traditionally a coastal product. But we’re really trying to expand and let folks around the country come to know the benefits of fiberglass,” he says. “They do well here, and they’ll do extremely well elsewhere in place of the typical aluminum flagpole.”

Since taking over, Scheerer says he has worked to rebrand as well as modernize the business by adding technology, but the manufacturing process has remained relatively the same.

“We use a mandrill that the crafter wraps in glass and  resin to form the pole,” says Scheerer. “These poles must be engineered to precise standards to withstand wind loads in different wind zones and for different-sized flags.”

He says competitors have largely gone to automation and must create a pole with a vertical seam and limited design choices. PLP, because of its ability to customize, was contracted by NASA to craft a 40-foot antenna mast for Cape Canaveral, which withstood 128-mph winds in Hurricane Matthew in 2015.

PLP is looking to add three crafters to its team, who Scheerer notes is very experienced. “John Heath, our operations director, has been here his whole life, 50-plus years, since he was a teenager. Some employees have been here 30 years or more.”

Susan Winter, light pole accounts manager, who has been at PLP for 20 years, says Scheerer “has turned the place around and made a lot of improvements. He is always looking for better ways to do things, and the growth in the business speaks for itself. He is open to everything.”

Erica Tucker, flagpole accounts manager, says the business not only survived the pandemic but even saw orders increase. “COVID didn’t hurt us much because we did not have to shut down,” Tucker says. “In fact, we were busier because people were at home looking for projects to do as a family, and installing a flagpole is an easy one and a nice way to add curb appeal.”

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