Case Studies

Panel Specialists Inc.

Reducing the carbon footprint and giving back to community in Temple, Texas

Hal Martin, Ray Schiller and Jim Wallis founded Panel Specialists Inc. (PSI) in 1990. Located in Temple, Texas, the company began as a manufacturer of decorative wall panel systems for educational institutions and non-combustible panels for the offshore marine industry. Today, PSI is owned by Markel Ventures, a financial holding company consisting of a variety of businesses dedicated to providing high-quality products and services to clients.  As part of Markel Corporation, PSI embraces Markel’s business philosophy recognizing honesty, fairness, talent and integrity as the keys to success.

In addition to its original offerings in the institutional and marine markets, PSI began servicing the higher education and healthcare markets with furniture, decorative wall panel systems and patient room headwalls. The company is licensed by the Architectural Woodwork Institute Quality Certification Program for Premium Grade Cabinetry and Systems.

PSI is very thoughtful in choosing its raw materials, using only premium composite cores, decorative surfaces and hardware, made by the best suppliers in the U.S. and abroad. The non-toxic vermiculite used in PSI’s non-combustible marine panels is mined overseas, where it remains asbestos contaminant free.

PSI’s products and services were put to the test recently as the company was chosen for the largest hospital renovation in the country. Parkland Health and Hospital System invested $1.3 billion in upgrades to its facility in Dallas and PSI was the primary casework company of choice for the project, completing levels 5-9 and levels 12-17. “That was a phenomenal project,” says Elliot Germany, president and CEO of PSI. “For PSI to be associated with a successful casework project of Parkland’s size and magnitude was very important for our organization.  We are also thankful to all of our partner suppliers who assisted along the way.”

The company, through its partnership with Wilsonart, LLC, is also a certified installer of a new product called EOS Cupron (EOScu), an EPA-registered synthetic hard surface infused with copper that continuously kills harmful bacteria upon contact. “This product is made with the intent of keeping hospitals safer and cleaner,” says Germany. “Hospitals are looking for more proactive and effective ways to kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces. Infusing copper directly into surface materials destroys harmful bacteria that would normally survive without the use of chemicals. This innovative product is undergoing case studies at four different hospitals, one of which is utilizing countertops fabricated by PSI.”

A green company

PSI is continually seeking ways to reduce its carbon footprint. “We’re very concerned with our environment,” says Germany. The company has been compliant with many government mandates in addition to seeking its own certifications to establish PSI as a green company. “We are California Air Resources Board [CARB] phase 2 compliant, and are Forestry Stewardship Council [FSC] certified.”

Germany says the company is also involved in various recycling activities. “Instead of disposing of our wood dust in a traditional landfill, we have partnered with companies to take this material and use it as a byproduct in the capture and processing of liquefied waste.  PSI has added a grinder to its newest angular panel saw, and is now contributing 70 tons of wood dust per month towards this recycling effort.”

Panel Specialists Inc.PSI is also implementing a new lighting project in its Temple factories by  converting all the lighting systems from T5 lighting, to a T8 fluorescent system with occupancy sensors located in certain areas.  The largest building, totaling 102,000 square feet, is already complete, resulting in a carbon footprint reduction of 49.1 percent. “It will not only be more energy efficient, but will also provide better lighting and safety for our factory,” Germany explains. “We have a manufacturing facility we are very proud of.”  Safety is also important to PSI, as it has received several Sharp Awards (Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program) from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Germany says being a member of the United States Green Building Council has earned PSI numerous benefits. “It’s often a requirement to be LEED-, AWI- or FSC-certified or a member of one or several associations such as USGBC. The most important thing is your reputation. It’s important to acknowledge these reputable agencies and the value they bring to the industry. For a company to go through all the effort to become a member of a trusted organization says a lot about your company and your clients will recognize that.”

Giving back

With a strong presence in Texas, PSI is committed to giving back to its community. The company has partnered with agencies across Bell County and holds numerous collection drives throughout the year, aimed at assisting those who are in need. The company has also adopted and cleaned local parks, donated to the American Red Cross to assist those affected by recent severe storms and floods across Texas, and donates materials for home building in support of Habitat for Humanity.

PSI partners with Families in Crisis with whom it sponsors many drives to collect clothing, food and other supplies. “Right now we’re conducting a diaper drive,” says Germany. “Our employees are bringing in diapers for children in need. People always donate canned goods to many of these community-based agencies, but families’ needs often go beyond that.  We provide toothbrushes, coats for winter, sunscreen for summer, pots and pans, and more,” says Germany.

As PSI progresses, the company is planning to expand through natural organic growth and acquisitions. “As we grow, we become better positioned to continue the positive culture we have established and the more we can have our people out in the community working on great causes,” says Germany.

As the company grows, Panel Specialists Inc. will continue to set the example for how a successful and sustainable company can give back to the community, reduce its carbon footprint, and maintain financial health while truly focusing on the triple bottom line.

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