Surendra Khambete (DM 2006) is the president and CEO of Indratech, a company that is radically transforming the $40 billion foam industry. Their innovative cushioning material, known as "Indura Performance Fiber," which is a safe, green replacement to polyurethane foam, was recently featured in Business Week as an important "Material Innovation" (see: http://images.businessweek.com/ss/08/01/0128_material/10.htm).
Polyurethane foam is a ubiquitous product - in virtually every chair, sofa, or mattress - but the material can be harmful to humans and to the environment in a number of ways. Indura Performance Fiber addresses many of these concerns using polyester which is completely recyclable, hypoallergenic, and naturally flame resistant (http://www.indratech-us.com/index.html ). Indratech has received a bit of notoriety for its innovative product in the press, and is now operating two plants (in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and Elkhart, Indiana). The company has also recently announced a multi-million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Justice for prison mattresses.
Prior to founding Indratech, Dr. Khambete was the president of 3D Solutions, an engineering firm specializing in product design and engineering for the automotive industry. He was also formerly the vice president and senior director, technology and development, for Collins & Aikman Corporation. His DM research focused on supplier relationships in the automotive industry, where he developed a concept he called "rational divergence" to explain why good collaborative practices are difficult to duplicate across contexts, and why collaboration in a supply chain so often results in sub-optimal performance.