Ron Kensey began designing custom-fit airplane covers in his garage in the 1980s, cutting fabric on the floor and sewing on one lone machine. Kensey, who bought out his partner’s share of Kennon Products Inc., then in Los Angeles, wanted wide-open spaces. “My dream was to move to spacious Wyoming in a bus and raise a family and live happily ever after,” says Kensey. Two decades later, Kennon Products Inc., Sheridan, Wyo., employs 27 people finding fabric solutions to unusual problems.
Aircraft engines require washing to improve engine efficiency and reduce fuel costs, but the process generates wastewater contaminated with oil, grease, heavy metals and other pollutants. If the rinse water goes down the drain, it pollutes soil and ground water. Metal collection tanks are heavy, clumsy, and sloppy. Kennon’s Engine Wastewater Collection System (EWCS), a fabric basin that straps on an aircraft engine, weighs 21 pounds and is stored in a backpack. Installed in 10 minutes, the EWCS captures rinse water during washing, allowing it to be treated later. Other custom creations include mouse-proof insulating blankets for pipelines in cold-weather climates, an armored helicopter liner that rejects bullets shot from AK-47s and a Soft Suicide Prevention Door that collapses if an inmate in rehab tries to commit suicide by hanging.