By Sue Moore
“We work with composites and make stuff!” It’s hard to explain what we do, Scot Copeland exclaims as he tried to put into a few sentences, what he supplies and manufactures in his building on North Street in Vicksburg. Copeland is a one-man band with only one other staff person to help him create the molds and composites for the specialty applications he turns out as well as supply the industrial market with raw composite materials.
He claims to be one of the top ten most qualified people in the U.S. for what he does, without a hint of braggadocio. For example, he helped to make the molds for WMU’s solar car. He made the after-market body parts for the Pulse, a car that is so modernistic you will rarely see it out on the road. Copeland and his only helper, Marc Henry, who has been with the company soon after its inception in 2006, work on parts for boats like kayaks, airplanes and even safety guards for elevator doors. Henry talks about an “older guy” who comes in to see what we are doing and just watch.
Consulting is Copeland’s specialty. But consulting on what? “I like to create things and then get paid for creating,” he says. “There are lots of ideas in my head. Companies pay me to consult, supply materials and build their toys, especially in the boat industry such as Olympic approved racing canoes and champion formula boats where our logos are all over their boats. Still, I want to stay small and lean and grow into the business so it doesn’t envelope me,” Copeland explains. Composites are made up of several substances like fiberglass, resin, and core materials, that when combined are very strong and light weight. They are the fastest growing material in the world, he proclaims. PR NEWSWIRE’s United Business Media says the aerospace industry is expected to consume $57 billion worth of composite materials between 2007- 2026, and this doesn’t include marine auto or wind turbines, bullet trains, large and small buildings. The Queen Mary II & III use these materials as well.
Copeland explains he is trying to capitalize on that market with his expertise. He trained on making composites with three of the foremost experts in the world, one of whom runs ABARIS, an Advance Composite training school. Copeland has written two approved training synopsis’s for the FAA that is currently used.
He comes by his interest naturally, Copeland says. “I was probably one of the most unlikely to succeed as a Vicksburg High School graduate in 1980 as I played around a lot.”
But Mr. Van (Valkenburg) “took me under his wing, with four years of drafting, architectural drawing and mechanical drawing. He found me a position as an intern with Houghton Manufacturing in 10th grade and I stayed there until I went into the Air Force in 1981 with a specialty in aerospace structures. I got paid to learn and walked out of the service with $30,000 to the good and have never been on unemployment.”
“I found a beginning position at Kal-Aero with Maurice Hovious, to whom I owe a great deal,” Copeland says. “From there it was Duncan Aviation, a company we do a lot of business with now as well as many other aircraft companies. I hold nine certifications in high performance composites, most of them earned, once I started this business. I moved it to Vicksburg in 2010. Now we have a line of packages for fiberglass repair kits that we sell to the military, and represent Cass Poly with epoxy packages that allow us to sell smaller quantities than what they offer to large manufacturers.”
“Ideally, what I want to do is talk! I would like to have more business as a consultant and travel all over the world, using my expertise, which some companies are already paying me for, but first we need to grow the business so I can see this opportunity down the road in five or ten years.”