When the unrealized potential of Architectural Components Group Inc. in Marshfield became apparent, Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Armstrong World Industries Inc. (NYSE: AWI) stepped in with a big shot in the arm. AWI acquired ACGI in 2019 and quickly invested $8 million in the custom wood wall and ceiling manufacturing plant to bring a 50,000-square-foot expansion to fruition.
“Armstrong understood the growth potential we had here in Marshfield,” Plant Manager David San Paolo says, “and wanted to ensure that we had the capacity to handle that growth.”
Parent company AWI generated $937 million in revenue in 2020 and employs approximately 2,800 people nationwide. The company is known for its ceiling, wall and suspension system solutions used in commercial and residential design and construction.
ACGI is one of 15 facilities in its manufacturing network. Officials declined to disclose the local annual revenue, though according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting, the plant has produced annual revenues of $35 million in recent years.
The plan to break ground for the expansion in March 2020 was delayed by one month to implement COVID-19 safety protocols but was completed one month ahead of schedule. The new building was occupied at the start of the year.
Before the expansion, San Paolo says operations were split into two facilities and required the use of trucks to transport materials back and forth. The roughly 130,000-square-foot plant now has plenty of room for all materials and employees in one place.
Products and projects
The facility helps streamline production of ACGI’s products, which are used for appearance as well as function.
“We manufacture the most beautiful wood products available in North America,” San Paolo says.
The use of natural wood species and painted products are current trends San Paolo has noticed in the industry, but he says it’s tough to determine which looks are most popular since every project is custom. Former jobs may be used as a general guide to get started, but no two projects are alike.
While designs vary, one of the purposes of wood walls and ceilings is consistent – acoustic corrections, including for reflective and absorptive purposes. Concert halls and auditoriums are obvious venues in need of this correction, but acoustics affect every setting. Schools, churches and hospitals are all in the company’s portfolio.
Locals may be familiar with ACGI’s work, which can be found in campus concert halls and auditoriums at Drury, Evangel and Missouri State universities. The Barnett Recital Hall at Evangel University, for example, is one. The company also helped with rebuilding medical facilities in Joplin after the destruction caused by the 2011 tornado.
Nationally, a project the company contributed to was the expansion of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. The project’s lead designer, Curtis Lesh of Tuck-Hinton Architecture and Design, says the team hired ACGI through the project’s general contractor. The expansion was completed in 2013 and doubled the size of the existing museum.
ACGI’s primary role was providing the wood products for the museum’s 800-seat theater. The theater was designed to have a round shape, with the goal of giving visitors the feeling of being in a whiskey barrel.
“This is the worst layout acoustically,” Lesh says.
ACGI was able to create a custom solution. Lesh says he had worked with similar companies before the Country Music Hall of Fame project, but none offered products as customizable.
Fans of different music genres may recognize two of the company’s other notable projects – the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Steinway Hall in New York. ACGI caters to sports fans, too, as its portfolio includes the San Francisco 49ers Legacy Club and the Philadelphia Eagles Touchdown Club.
ACGI’s San Paolo says the Marshfield plant is on track for more growth. This includes an increase in production capacity and office jobs, as he says the new building has the capacity for up to 50 new employees. Sustainability initiatives are in the works, too.
ACGI’s San Paolo says the Marshfield plant is on track for more growth. This includes an increase in production capacity and office jobs, as he says the facility currently has the capacity for 40-50 additional employees. Sustainability initiatives are in the works, too.
Officials say the collaboration of ACGI with parent company AWI has created advantages for both parties. The Marshfield plant benefits from the parent company’s sales team, while AWI benefits from the addition of the custom wood walls and ceilings to its collection of products.
Much of the growth must also be credited to good leadership. Jennifer Johnson, the director of corporate communications for AWI, says San Paolo’s leadership is critical to the success of the plant. He joined the company nine years ago, and his style promotes cohesive relationships between different teams within the plant, such as the financial, sustainability and safety teams.
“We trust our plant managers wholeheartedly,” she says, “and he has done a dynamite job with the facility.”
SBJ survey data is used to analyze the flow of money.
Michael Smith and Chris Sawyer, COO and CEO of Next Level Solutions respectively, discuss how they keep their remote teams and offices in and out of country on the same page. Next Level Solutions was ranked #1 in the Springfield Business Journal's 2021 Dynamic Dozen.
John Oke-Thomas, architect and co-founder of minorities in business, responds to the accusation that minority businesses are only successful because of the priority they have received in lending. He says that if a business uses a loan well, it shows their worth.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares tips for entrepreneurs who are ready to seek funding. Some of her tips apply broadly; some target technology industry businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and startups, and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Hollie Elliott discusses common misconceptions about locating your business in a small town. She says that there are a lot of benefits that people may not consider.
Drawing on his own experience dynamically evolving his company and business model, Jim Meinsen discusses when and how you might need to draw on new technology. Jim and Debbie Meinsen are co-owners of TCI Graphics in Springfield.
John Oke-Thomas, longtime Springfield architect, discusses his philosophy on architecture. He says that future historians will be focused on the sustainability of our contemporary architecture.
Erin Hedlun, director of marketing and communications at Evangel University, says compassion is an important job skill. Hedlun says it is a component of what makes a leader.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistree Pottery, talks about the concepting that went behind the aesthetic of the business.
Caleb Scott, coach and co-owner of Queen City Insane Asylum football team, says he had to sacrifice early on to make sure his team had places to play. With the business climate at the time, it wasn't easy.
Aaron York talks about the culture he fosters at Donco3 as the general superintendent. York says the key is to treat your business like family.