published Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Steel company aims to make wind towers saferSteel company aims to make wind towers safer

by Brittany Cofer

* What: The Stair Tower Module System will be put inside wind turbines to allow for safer entrance and exit for workers.

* Company: Tower Steel

* Location: 1000 Sequoyah Road, Soddy-Daisy

* How it’s green: Owner Larry Hopper said it’s not just about going into an industry that is environmentally friendly, but by making an environmentally friendly product to go along with the industry. All stair towers are made from 100 percent recyclable aluminum or steel.

* How long will it last: The stairs will outlast the wind turbines, which usually have a lifespan of about 20 years, Hopper said. He expects the stairs to last about 100 years.

* Why do it this way? When work opportunities building stairs, handrails and other steel platforms at schools, prisons and commercial buildings slowed, Hopper began looking to other industries. The green power industry is growing and there is ample opportunity for Hopper to provide safety solutions, he said.

* Plans for expanding: Tower Steel has two model stair systems for wind turbines that are in the construction phase and is working on a system that could be used in existing towers. Hopper said he wants eventually to move into working with the solar industry as well.

* Advice for others considering green initiatives: Hopper said joining green industry associations is a great way to stay informed on what is happening and to get ideas on how to become green with your own company.

* Is environmentalism an essential part of the business and why? Though not an essential part of Tower Steel, an environmental approach is becoming more ingrained in Hopper’s business philosophy. He said he is transitioning from “a dirty industry to almost exclusively environmentally friendly ones.”

about Brittany Cofer...

Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...

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