Red Ewald, Inc., located in Karnes City Texas, sixty (60) miles southeast of San Antonio, Texas, has been supplying fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) tanks and process vessels since 1963. These tanks continually serve a wide range of applications in the chemical handling, mining, pulp and paper, petrochemical, waste water treatment, oil and gas drilling and testing, food processing, pollution control industries, agriculture and aquaculture environments.
H. J. Ewald, Jr., known as “Red Ewald”, got his idea for using fiberglass when he was in Seguin, Texas. His idea was to build a toy. He purchased 5 gallons of resin from a friend and played around with it.
Then, in 1961, he moved to Karnes City to buy and take over the tractor franchise his father had established. In his mind, he had been thinking about the tank business, but no one had ever called on him to buy a fiberglass tank. So, he went ahead and built this little welding shop out besides the building (located on Hwy 123) and he hired Stanley Tessman as a welder. Well, Dr. Helton, a farmer, ordered a spray rig, all set up, ready to go for spraying cattle. Red had Stanley build the rig, he ordered the spray tank (a steel tank), and was quite astounded as the price of the spray tank. He didn’t tell a soul what he was going to do, but he went to Mr. Huckley, the local plumber, and had him build a tin half, round mold.
On April 1, 1962, Red brought the tin mold into the building through the back door, along with his gallon of resin and a yard of cloth, and said to his wife, “Ruth, make me a paper pattern and cut the material to fit this tank,” because he didn’t know how. So, Ruth grabbed some tin snips and some brown paper and cut the pattern. It was in two pieces. She was sitting down on the floor in the tractor company – they had moved the tractor out – when Arthur Sterling came in from the ranch out at Gillett and said, “Ruth, what in the hell are you doing down there in the floor?” She replied “Well, Red is going to build a fiberglass tank and I’m making the pattern for the fiberglass.” Arthur said, “If Red’s going to build a fiberglass tank, I’m going to buy it.” So he goes into the office and gets a price on the tank, and Red writes up a sales ticket for a 200 gallon tank. It was sold before it was ever built. Arthur said though, “If Red says he’s going to do it, I know he’s going to!”
So, they got the mold together, and started out with a paper cup to mix the resin, catalyst, cobalt, and the 5 gallons of resin, and then covered half of the tank. They didn’t know what to use for a mold release, so they used water pressure and a little help from some crowbars to break it loose from the tin mold. The next day, Arthur came in, Red squirted the water hose on that half of the tank, and it leaked like a sieve. Red said hurriedly, “Oh, it’s supposed to do that the first time, then you build it up.” So, he got a few more gallons of resin and started pouring the resin and the material. Well, it was the ugliest and roughest thing you ever saw. They didn’t know how to put it together, so there was nothing else to do but measure Ruth’s shoulders, make an opening, and lay her down inside the tank. Red or Stanley would mix the resin in paper cups and strips of material, and hand them to Ruth while she laid flat on her back and seamed the tank together. There was a couple of times when the tank would roll over while Ruth was in it, and she’d be screaming like crazy until Stanley would come help her out to catch her breath before they threw her back in.