The company is in an industrial park off U.S. Route 422 and employs 27 people.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Howard Turner developed an interest in saving the environment after spending most of his naval career on a nuclear submarine.
He saw that a nuclear program "has the potential to do irreparable damage to the environment."
"So when I left I wanted jobs that would make sure that wouldn't happen," he said.
After spending six years at Ferguson Perforating & amp; Wire in New Castle, that interest in the environment has paid off.
Honored: The company recently was honored by Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker as a top achiever in environ8mental conservation and received the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence.
"The winners of the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence exemplify the connection between protecting our natural resources and creating a better quality of life," Schweiker said.
Ferguson, tucked away in the Shenango Commerce Park off U.S. Route 422, employs 27 people and has customers in the aircraft, architecture, food processing and mining industries.
Perforated steel, which is basically steel screens with holes punched in them, is used just about everywhere, including in microwave ovens and throughout airports to cut down on noise.
State officials said Ferguson made great strides in protecting the environment since locating in Lawrence County in 1996. The company is based in Rhode Island.
Turner credits the company's success to employees who have helped solve some of their most difficult environmental problems.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the company has expanded production more than 50 percent during the last four years, but has managed to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, specific waste streams thanks to employee suggestions.
Ideas: The company's employee-suggested projects have included:
UInstalling high-efficiency lighting in the facility, which increased the efficiency of electricity use by 12.5 percent and saved the facility about $3,000 annually.
UReplacing caustic cleaners with aqueous varieties, which eliminated 2,000 gallons of spent cleaner disposal annually and cut cleaning times in half.
UInstalling oil separators in material wash machines and coolant tanks, which extended the life of wash solutions, saving about $700 annually in coolant disposal costs. There has been a 500 percent reduction in waste oil disposal and a reduction of 2,000 annually in spent cleaner disposal, the DEP says.
UEstablishing a system for reusing paper during the packing process, which led to a 30 percent reduction in paper consumption.
URecycling damaged boxes and skids, which are turned into mulch for landscaping.
Turner said he developed his open-door policy with employees during his 20-year career in the Navy, where he retired as a master chief mate, the highest rank for an enlisted person.
"I have always posed the problems to the troops, if you will, and used their collective intelligence because I certainly don't profess to know all the answers. Collectively they can come up with some pretty amazing solutions," he said.