Lifelong learning, willingness to change, drive Boyd Technologies
Boyd Technology, from left: Matthew Koons (VP sales), Peter Boyd (director of facilities) Matthew Boyd (COO), Stephen Donnelly (VP finance), Brianna Sporbert (senior director services), Bronly Boyd (founder, chairman of the board), Stephen Boyd (president and CEO), and Scott Crawley (VP of operations)
Photo by Scott Barrow
The first time I met Bronly Boyd in 2008 in my role as executive director of the Lee Chamber of Commerce. He was the second business owner I had spoken with that day and I concluded both discussions with the same question: “What is in the future for your business?” The first respondent looked puzzled and said, “More of the same, I guess.” But Bronly gave a far more realistic reply: “We have to keep learning, be ready to change and anticipate our customers’ needs.” If I had been an investor I would have been inclined to put my money on Boyd Converting (now Boyd Technologies).
A generation ago, maintaining a steady course often worked. Change came slower. Most industries were comprised of large, highly visible employers that concentrated for years on products they knew would sell. If you were wearing Wall-Streeter shoes, they probably came from the big plant in North Adams. If you were smoking Lucky Strike cigarettes, they were probably rolled in paper from the Eagle Mill in Lee. If your company was using a GE transformer, you knew it had come from the sprawling plant in Pittsfield.
Then, all of that was gone, farmed out to some distant place somewhere in Asia perhaps. That’s why many people in the Berkshires today are surprised to learn that if they are drinking Starbucks coffee, it quite possibly passed through a filter made at Boyd Technologies in Lee. Likewise, the disposable pad on your Clorox ReadyMop is a Boyd product, as is the “hurt-free wrap” from Johnson & Johnson that covers your kid’s latest contusion. Here was an unobtrusive little plant beside Route 102 quietly cranking out the products of our everyday lives for some of the biggest brand names in America, and nobody around here knew it. The company immediately struck me as clever, innovative, and adaptable to its markets.
When Bronly Boyd started the business in 1979, the word “converting” was a reference to taking various types of paper coming from the mills in its raw form and shaping and adapting it for practical uses. The development of advanced flexible materials was expanding at a rapid pace four decades ago, and the company quickly moved into other types of materials.
In a world where we are accustomed to industrial giants, it’s surprising to know that a prosaic-looking plant a mile from the Massachusetts Turnpike in the pastoral Berkshires has established itself in such a key industrial position. It started with Bronly Boyd, now chairman of the board, who often repeats the adage, “If we can hire people who are smarter than us, we will be okay.”
Stephen Boyd, inherited the mantle of CEO in 2007, and among his many roles in the Berkshire community, he is the chair and president of the Berkshire Innovation Center. Matthew Boyd joined Boyd Converting in 2007 in business development work. Today he is the COO and is active in community roles when away from the plant. And Peter Boyd rounds out his father’s team, joining the company in 2003. Peter is now director of facilities.
Ever ready to change, Boyd Technologies is now steering its business in a new direction with products for the biomedical field. A fascinating example is single-use bioreactor bags used to grow human tissue for medical research and therapy. On the cutting edge of medical science, these bags are used to grow heart and skeletal tissue, ligaments and even cancer tissue for study. Produced in a Class 7 Cleanroom at the plant, the disposable bags have been found more efficient in labs than the stainless steel and glass vessels of earlier days.
Boyd is also producing complex multi-layer wound-care dressings used on patients with chronic wounds in high-risk populations. And containers are produced for personalized medicine that are specific to an individual’s DNA and genetic makeup. These products are used to detect, prevent, and treat infectious diseases. The containers are multi-layer with sealing films and flexible membranes.
Biomedical production puts Boyd Technologies squarely in the exciting future of an ever-evolving industry. Stephen Boyd says that his goal is to scale the company while maintaining its team environment. His hope of doubling revenues from the current $50-million level seems realistic in the fast-growing biomedical field.