“Propex continues to pioneer the fabric industry that supports infrastructure with cutting-edge facilities producing hundreds of thousands of advanced products for a myriad of industries.”
Mike Gorey took the reins as Propex CEO in April 2011 as the company was struggling to find its footing after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Prior to Propex, he was the President of Bridgestone, North American Consumer Tire Business where he helped the company turnaround after a major tire recall. Experienced in crisis-management, Mike has successfully returned organizations to growth, profit and market leadership. His vision has led Propex from a manufacturing-driven carpet backing company to a market-centric company. In turn, Propex has regained its reputation as an industry innovator and leads the market in developing resilient geosynthetic solutions. Mike’s “roll-up-your-sleeves” leadership style has transformed Propex into a thriving company with a bright future. In addition to leading Propex to prosperity, Mike’s commitment to respect every individual, lead with humility, and create healthy teamwork chemistry has developed a company culture that empowers all employees.
When joining Propex in 2011, the BP/Amoco subsidiary was still of “big oil” company belief. Reflecting back, this “big company” syndrome turned out to be more challenging to transform than originally believed. “After six months at Propex, I discovered that I would have to combat significant passive resistance to achieve what I envisioned for the company. The built-in paradigms or “sacred cows” discovered along the way were many and some difficult to see,” says Mike. “For example, as a strong patriotic American company, Propex openly accepted imports in conversation; however, in action found many reasons to justify why these products were not up to Propex’s standards of quality. Eventually, Propex was able to strategically integrate lower cost imports into our product offering, allowing us to remain relevant to customers.”
By offering a full line of competitive products, Propex was able to expand its access to the market. Additionally, Propex found that the key to invigorating past customers while gaining new ones was by cultivating a team of relationship-oriented professionals. “At the end of the day, people buy from people,” said Gorey.
Propex, known for innovation, involves the entire team. For example, the manufacturing team continuously finds ways to use raw materials more effectively, while the commercial team focuses on breakthrough market development tools. One game-changing tool called MILO (stands for Market, Influence, Lead and Optimize) has become highly valuable to customers for lead generation, engineering support and skilled ideas to closed projects. Our world-class manufacturing and distribution center located in Ringgold, GA supplies geotextile and erosion control solutions to 33 countries. This facility boasts the industry’s largest geosynthetic capacity under one roof. Within this facility, Propex manufactures about 2,500 unique finished products.
Providing long-term solutions for common challenges related to extreme weather events and rising sea levels is central to Propex’s mission. This dedication has successfully positioned many of its solutions as defacto standards in mitigating reoccurrences. For example, Propex has led the effort to armor the New Orleans levee system following Hurricane Katrina. From design inception to the first shipment took a decade. “Patience, determination and a clear sense of purpose are what made this new standard a reality,” adds Mike. “Soft armoring a levee system in lieu of rock or concrete not only lowered the cost but was also more environmentally friendly. Our system supports a living shoreline, while rock can actually have a negative impact on aquatic ecosystems.”
Propex engineers solutions to prevent erosion and stabilize slopes that promotes reinforced vegetation, and is the first and only manufacturer of High-Performance Turf Reinforcement Mat (HPTRM) to have the carbon footprint of its product verified by an independent third-party organization. When compared to traditional methods such as rock and concrete, the carbon footprint of Propex solutions is up to thirty times smaller than its alternatives.
Deemed essential, Propex experienced a limited impact from the present COVID-19 pandemic, but for Mike and his team, safety has always been job one. Battling this coronavirus was no different. Propex teammates are protected with a strict disinfection regiment throughout the day and at each shift change. “Balancing employee physical health with their financial health is central to my responsibilities,” adds Mike. “As a result of increasing needs for PPE products, other manufacturers in our industry were forced to substitute their materials with ours. The lockdowns in the automotive industry have created new challenges for our production team to meet changing product specification requirements.
The evolution of Propex from “big oil” to an infrastructure company has been full of roadblocks, passive resistance and learning opportunities. The progress made in the last year in the midst of a pandemic is a tribute to the character of our people. Our game plan is centered on innovation and our empowered team of true professionals makes Propex the leader in erosion control solutions and geosynthetics.”