Fibar started with an idea: Wouldn't shredded wood fibers be a better horse training surface than dirt or sand? The question occurred to company founder Robert Heath, because, as an avid horseman, he saw that conventional surfaces were hard on horses' legs.
Wood fiber, on the other hand, was naturally springy, good to look at, and never turned to mud. The next step was development work that eventually resulted in Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF), which he called "Fibar." That was in 1979. Within five years, the company turned Heath's idea into a thriving business, which has supplied the surfacing for 2,000 horse facilities in the United States and Canada.
Soft landings for kids
In 1986 came a second idea: If Engineered Wood Fiber was good for the fragile legs of horses, why wouldn't it be the ideal surface for playgrounds, where kids fall all the time? The hunch proved right. Tests conducted through the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association showed that Fibar® Engineered Wood Fiber absorbed shock not only better, but much better than sand, grass, dirt, or gravel. Here was an economical product that could save children's lives!
The company immediately set about building a team of playground safety surface experts. The company developed the FibarSystem®, which added a patented, built-in drainage system and heavy-duty wear mats to the Engineered Wood Fiber, so kids could play after it rains and installations would last longer. It added a 25-year Warranty and liability insurance. It built a nationwide network of over 100 sales representatives and was soon installing thousands of playground surfaces every year.
The ADA spurs growth
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 helped to accelerate the company's growth. Unlike sand and gravel, a FibarSystem surface proved accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and walkers. Testing showed it meets the critical "Final Rule" of the ADA Access Board. That's because the wood fibers knit together to form a springy mat. So now physically challenged kids could play right next to all the other kids–on a safety surface.
Leading the industry
Now CEO of The Fibar Group LLC, Heath has seen his ideas grow to where Fibar is the leading supplier of playground surfaces in the U.S., with over 40,000 installations in North America. Along the way, the company has continued to strengthen its professional staff and has established a formal set of Fibar Values, emphasizing Integrity, Respect, and Customer Loyalty.
Fibar now offers a full line of playground surfaces to meet every design challenge and every budget. New products include FibarPIP® (Poured-in-Place rubber), which allows for free-form seamless designs in a broad range of colors, and FibarIndoor® play surfaces, made of engineered recycled foam in a variety of colors and finishes. Continuing the Fibar tradition, both meet government standards for impact protection and accessibility.