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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, July 21, 2014, 5:55 am

Top Manufacturers Awards 2014: P&L Specialties: Making machines, community connections

Supporting charities, future workers is building for tomorrow

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    Top Manufacturers in the North Bay 2014SANTA ROSA — Designing, engineering and fabricating custom-made stainless-steel and aluminum equipment for winemaking and a host of other industries is only part of what makes P&L Specialties a larger than life manufacturer. For company President and founder Ed Barr, giving back is good business.

    Mr. Barr serves on the board of the Workforce Investment Board (WIB), is actively engaged in many charities and still finds time to donate his time to give free guitar lessons to teens.

    P&L Specialties President and founder Ed Barr

    P&L Specialties President and founder Ed Barr next to a stainless-steel wine barrel-washing machine made by a company that also believes it is good business to give back to the community.

    From its home office at 1650 Almar Pkwy., P&L Specialties (PnLSpecialties.com) designs and builds sought-after winery industry’s crush and conveyor systems, and with the acquisition of the Thomas Beard Company, is finding growth and opportunity.

    “Wine industry capital spending is up every year and we have increased production to meet demand,” he said.

    P&L also manufacturers metal structures for the food, wastewater, agriculture, structural and architecture industries.

    For the wine industry, P&L manufactures the patented, Le Trieur M.O.G. (material other than grapes) sorting table and separation system, and the LT 2+2complete with a remote control pendant, as well as Harvest Lug Washing Machines, The Rakeand barrel-washing equipment. The company also makes bin dumpers, receiving hoppers, catwalks, belt and screw conveyors, rotary screens, mixers and other food-processing equipment. 

    In addition, P&L imports pumps and destemmers from CME in Italy, and French -made pneumatic presses and is the North American representative for Demoisy providing the Galeo Destemmer, the Mohno Vega Pump and Multi-Cone Crusher Roller.

    “Since 1984, we have produced the highest-quality customized machinery with many service applications,” Mr. Barr said.

    “In 2010 we acquired the Tom Beard Company, a premier maker of barrel washing and line processing machines. Tom and his entire staff were integrated into our company.”

    Last April P&L launched its Revolution certified pre-owned winery equipment business unit that buys, refurbishes and sells winery equipment, and just hired two new employees to help run it.

    P&L has 38 employees at two locations, including another building around the corner that makes UL508 electrical panel boxes.

    In 2012 the company purchased an Omax $300,000 water jet cutting machine producing focused streams at 50,000 psi garnet water pressure, and is already thinking about buying a second unit. This device is used for creative projects such as signs, architectural pieces and other work for vendors. All water is recycled and never leaves the building.

    Today P&L serves a growing client list from buyers in the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Chile.

    The company was named for original founders Pete Webb & Lisa Hyde. Ms. Hyde is still with P&L today as vice president and chief financial officer. Mr. Barr bought the business in 1999.

    Since 2002 he has served on the Workforce Investment Board, twice as chair, with a goal of using federal funds to train and retrain dislocated youth and adults.

    “Initially I got involved with WIB because we needed welders for our stainless steel work and realized that helping people is what I really wanted to do.”

    He has also serves on the advisory committee with the Sonoma County Youth Probation Camp on vocational programs in woodworking and welding making benches, fire pits, barbecues for the public and culinary use. His role has been to help source tools, equipment and other resources for the camp.

    Mr. Barr also serves on the Petaluma Peoples Services Board that acquired the Bounty Farm in Petaluma providing food for Meals on Wheels, the food bank and local restaurants.

    PPSC employs youth for the summer jobs program at the The Bounty Farm putting youth to work learning sustainable farming, harvesting, team camaraderie — and what to do to get paid.

    “In the past at P&L, rather than exchange Christmas cards, we used these funds to make donations as a gift on behalf of all of our customers to different charities — the Redwood Gospel Mission, Redwood Empire Food Bank, and Sunrise Horse Rescue in St. Helena. We have lots of customers in St. Helena and there is crossover between wine and horses,” he said.

    Eight years ago he started giving free guitar lessons to high school and junior college students who could not pay for instruction. “All I ask is that they show up on time and practice as they expand their understanding of music. Now we have a Battle of the Students among those who play in a band together with a used drum set and PA system. Mr. Barr has been fortunate to have great mentors, especially his dad who guided him in the business.

    “No one gets anywhere without someone helping them,” he said. “I genuinely like people, think the best of everyone and maintain a positive outlook. I believe if you give someone a fine reputation to live up to, they will.”

    Empowering young people and being passionate about vocational training is what drives him. 

    He ran United Air Lines Aircraft’s maintenance department for 10 years before buying P&L. “I am also a displaced teacher at heart. It is core to me to teach something and see the lights go, and know they got the message. Seeing them succeed is better than money as I watch them do what they didn’t think they could do.”

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