The National Achievement Award is the highest honor presented by the National Rivers Hall of Fame to those people who are making significant contributions to America’s waterways. The National Rivers Hall of Fame with members in 36 states is the only national museum telling the stories of the people of America’s rivers.
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Honored in 2006
Rodney Burwell is the founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Xerxes Corporation, a leading manufacturer of structural fiberglass products. He invented the structural fiberglass reinforced plastic (SFRP) cargo lift-off barge cover, resulting in more grain being transported and lighter, easier-to-handle covers that ultimately would not rust.
Burwell’s invention has had a lasting impact on the river industry. His arched 11-ton FRP design replaced the heavier, flat 35-ton steel alternative at the same cost to the customer, resulting in more grain being transported in each of the 11-13 turns per year that a grain barge makes.
Proform, Incorporated was founded by Burwell on August 14, 1969, where the FRP barge covers were manufactured for Cargill, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over 5,000 cover systems were manufactured at Proform, Inc. from 1969 to 1985, some of which are still in use today.