Prior to starting Sunstrand, Dr. Riddle founded a successful engineering services firm in an effort to supply innovative design, material evaluations, research and development services to meet the needs of a growing composites industry. Seeing a growing interest in biocomposites, the team to monitor and research the area. The real work began when the firm won a Small Business Innovative Research award from the prestigious National Science Foundation. This work pioneered the extraction of bamboo fiber from raw bamboo cane and the conversion of these fibers to forms compatible with polymer composites. During this work it became apparent that there was a need for a reliable supplier of biomaterials that understands the composites industry.
During the summer of 2014, Sunstrand was formed to meet the needs of an industry by providing biomaterials and processing services. The company was located in Louisville, Ky which is in close proximity to agricultural feedstock suppliers and customers. Sunstrand now works with a variety of feedstocks including bamboo, hemp, kenaf, flax and jute. Sunstrand utilizes a team consisting of Mechanical Engineers, Chemical Engineers, Mechanical Engineering Technologists, Material Scientists and Technicians. The team has highly specialized composites design, manufacturing and testing experience. We come from broad industries such as wind energy, paper, snowsports, biomass, automotive, academia and aerospace.
From L to R: Patrick Flaherty, Production Manager; Trey Riddle, CEO; Spring Cook-Riddle, Shop Technician; James Whaley, Intern; John Michael Smith, Shop Technician; Rachel Smith, Office Administrator; Josh Burton, Director of Special Projects
Sunstrand is a Proud Member of the Center for Bioplastics & Biocomposites
Sunstrand is a Proud Member of the Hemp Industries Association
Sunstrand is a Proud Member of the Plastics Industry Trade Association
CEO – Trey Riddle, PhD: William Trey” Riddle III, PhD is an experienced professional. Prior to forming Sunstrand, he founded Gradient Engineering, a successful engineering services firm focused on polymer composite applications. He is considered an expert in biomaterials for composite, technical nonwoven and plastic applications; regularly giving talks and being published on the subject. Dr. Riddle started his career in composites performing accelerated static and fatigue structural testing on wind turbine blades. He went on to develop novel probabilistic methods to evaluate variations in mechanical properties of composite structures containing defects. Dr. Riddle received his BS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Montana State University and Masters from Cornell University. He is Steering Committee member for the Bio-Industrial Materials Institute, a member of the Industrial Hemp Roundtable, The KY Industrial Hemp Advisory Board and a Board member for the KY Hemp Industry Association.
Chief Science Officer – Jared Nelson, PhD: Jared W. Nelson, PhD has extensive experience in the composites industry during the last 15 years. He has worked as a Composites Manufacturing Engineer to develop the first carbon fiber body panel to be painted in a General Motors plant for the Corvette. In addition, Dr. Nelson has extensive experience with the composite manufacture of various sporting goods. His published research activities include work as an analyst working on cutting-edge computational solutions for the wind industry. Dr. Nelson is currently an Assistant Professor at SUNY New Paltz and the Director for the Bio-Industrial Materials Institute. He received a BS in Philosophy from Bates College, a BS and a MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah, and a PhD from Montana State University.
Business Development – Dan Eigel: Mr. Eigel’s had a successful career as General manager, leading a $100MM + Fortune 500 divisional for 14 years. This business was engaged in developing new acoustical, structural and thermal products originating from polyester, cotton shoddy and fiberglass, fiber materials. Prior to this he was part owner of Soltech Incorporated, a fibrous material converter serving the Appliance, Automotive and Ceiling OEM’s with revenues of $50MM in 10 manufacturing facilities. During this time he served as EVP and led the Sales and Operations of the company. Over a 10 year period Sales grew from $1MM to $50MM with $15MM coming from 3 acquisitions. This business was serviced out of 10 plants of which 7 were started as greenfield operations and 3 were acquired assets.
Plant Manager – Bill Hofmeister: Mr. Hofmeister has a degree in Chemical Engineering and is a 25 year veteran of processing plant operations. Prior to joining Sunstrand, he spent 10 years working as a Plant Manager and 7 years as the Director of Engineering for SunOpta, a large North American cellulose fiber processing company. He is an expert in the wet processing of a wide variety of natural cellulosic fibers; from oats to soybeans to flax.
VP Product Development – Patrick Flaherty: Mr. Flaherty primarily works to develop new innovative products for Sunstrand to market. He also oversees all of Sunstrand’s engineering, laboratory and testing activities. He has a diverse technical background that includes manufacturing, product development, and material testing. Mr. Flaherty helped to develop the seminal bamboo technologies at Gradient Engineering. He then transitioned to Sunstrand as a founding team member. He has a degree Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis on polymer composite manufacturing and testing.
Director of Special Projects – Josh Burton: Mr. Burton joined Sunstrand as a Research Engineer where his responsibilities included the characterization and assessment of material properties. He then moved on to become Sunstrand’s Director of Special Projects where he developed novel materials and processes for material production as well as working with customers to understand new applications for Sunstrand’s products. In addition, Mr. Burton is the General Manager of Sunstrand Canada, Ltd. Mr. Burton holds degrees in both Ocean and Aeronautical Engineering.
Doug Cairns, PhD: Dr. Doug Cairns is Co-Director of the Montana Wind Energy Consortium as well as Chief Scientist and Board Member for Radius Engineering. Prior to joining the Montana State University faculty he was Manager of Composites Technology at Hercules Materials Company. In addition to his research on composite materials development, manufacturing processes, design, analysis, and testing, he is an editor and contributor for CMH-17: Composite Materials Handbook. He has a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Wyoming, and a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Roy Dodd, PhD. Dr. Dodd is a retired Clemson University professor and former consultant to major flax processing companies. He was at the forefront of huge efforts to grow and process flax as a winter crop in South Carolina. In this capacity has seen complications of trying to introduce a new industrial crop into the agro-economy.
Joe Hogue: Mr. Hogue is a retired executive with Schweitzer-Mauduit International (SWM). During his career with SWM he was in charge of purchasing and processing hundreds of thousands of tons of flax straw for fiber and biomaterial applications. Joe is a leader in promoting the usage of flax waste (shive/hurd) as a industrial bio-material.
Rick Vance: Rick Vance is Member (Partner) at Stites & Harbison. He is based in the Louisville, KY office. Mr. Vance is Kentucky state editor of House Law and is a member of the Governing Committee of the Conference on Consumer Finance Law. He began his career as a consumer protection investigator with the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.
David Williams, PhD: Dr. Williams is a Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Kentucky. In addition to teaching, Dr. Williams works in applied agronomic science on the optimization of industrial hemp production systems for fiber, grain, and cannabinoids. He received his MS and PhD from the University of KY and BS from Eastern Kentucky University.