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Behind the Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life

Nashville International Airport 12.07.07, 1:45 p.m.
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The Quarter-Ton Trash Can

As airports beef up security, some have installed these 30-gallon blast-resistant garbage bins from Centerpoint Manufacturing. Each 525-pound receptacle is made of alternating layers of steel alloys and dense foam, which enables it to safely contain an explosion producing thousands of tons of pressure. David Fannon, an engineer with a background in metallurgy, founded Centerpoint in 2002. His six employees, in Robertsdale, Alabama, craft these bins, which sell for about $1,500 each to federal buildings, malls, and transportation hubs.

The Big Board

The arrival and departure information posted on this 19-foot-wide display comes from many sources. Infax, in Duluth, Georgia, is the company that pulls it all together into a helpful format. Its software, WinFIDS, gathers takeoff and landing times from the Official Airline Guide, real-time flight status from Flightview and the Federal Aviation Administration, and gate numbers from the airport's internal system. Infax, which employs 25, also sells a program for courthouses that displays docket information.

Crowd-Control-Stanchions

Do you know what's creating lines at the airport? Lavi Industries. The business, based in Valencia, California, makes these metal stanchions with retractable belts. The $30 million company got its start in 1979, when founder Gavriel Lavi's nostalgia for his time in the Israeli Navy inspired him to import ship wheels for interior decoration. Then came other home accessories, such as towel racks and valets. Today, Lavi employs 140 people and churns out a wide array of mostly commercial products, including security barricades, hostess stands, and salad-bar sneeze guards.

Anti-Fatigue Mats

There are worse things than dealing with irritable travelers--such as having to stand behind a ticket counter all day to do so. SATech, in Chehalis, Washington, produces rubber flooring to help curb the hurt. Beneath the surface of its inch-thick mats, which line the area behind this ticket counter, are rows of rubber cylinders that act like springs to absorb shock. SATech, which has a staff of 24 and annual revenue of more than $3 million, was founded in 1991 to manufacture padded surfaces for playgrounds. Today, its flooring can be found in mailrooms, operating rooms, and even horse trailers.

Last updated: Feb 1, 2008




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