Start-Up Is Over — Silicone Molder Settles in to New Facility
In its fifth year of business, liquid silicone injection molder Silcotech North America has emerged from the tumultuous start-up phase strongly positioned as a technical molder for automotive and medi...
In its fifth year of business, liquid silicone injection molder Silcotech North America has emerged from the tumultuous start-up phase strongly positioned as a technical molder for automotive and medical markets.
At the opening celebration for Silcotech’s new headquarters in Bolton, ON, last fall, Isolde Boettger said 2003 “was one of the busiest and critical building years for Silcotech. Maintaining growth, resolving staffing needs and building a completely professional environment while not losing touch with each person in the company was and is a challenge.”
Boettger is one of the founding partners of Silcotech North America, along with Michael Maloney, Udo Lange, the founder of Silcotech AG in Switzerland and Holger Lange, president of Silcotech AG. Since founding Silcotech’s European operations in 1984, Lange had urged Maloney to start a sister company in North America. Plans were laid in 1998, and Silcotech began production in 1999.
“One of our goals over the last two years has been to unify the Silcotech name and production sites. Silcotech is now known as a group, and a competent player in the world of silicone molding,” explains Boettger.
Liquid silicone rubber is a two-component liquid system that can be pumped into injection molding machines and then heat cured to produce molded parts. LSR is often used in automotive and medical components, as well as micro-size parts.
In Bolton, Silcotech has 13 injection molding machines, each with automation. Sales have grown consistently in the past three years — 100% growth in 2001 was followed by 30% growth in 2002 and 20% growth in 2003. In January 2004 Silcotech was chosen the top business of 2003 by the local Chamber of Commerce.
Silcotech strives to remain on the leading edge technically, incorporating two-component and two-color molding, and automation whenever feasible.
To facilitate its strong export focus and international business relationships, Silcotech relies on advanced communications and management techniques. The company frequently uses Internet meetings to accelerate part design. The CAD software used by Silcotech allows both the customer and Silcotech staff to view and manipulate part drawings while discussing changes. As well, Silcotech uses an enterprise management system with e-commerce capability.
However, even with experienced partners and a technically advanced molding process, start-up had its trying moments.
“We were awaiting our first two machines when one of our prospective customers wanted to come for a visit and inspect our premises,” recounts Boettger. “Hastily we bought two presentable desks and a few chairs, but on the day of the visit we still didn’t have any molding machines. Fortunately, trust and vision, as well as the backing of our Swiss partners, laid the groundwork for a wonderful and mutually beneficial partnership with this large Ontario-based medical supply company.”
In May of 1999 Silcotech started molding with two machines. “After several months a local “angel” showed up on our doorstep,” recalls Boettger. “Dan Regliszyn from Caledon Community Services helped us to find the right personnel to grow the business. Caledon Community Services became our silent HR department.”
By the end of the second business year, Silcotech grew to two units, four machines, several staff and, most importantly, positive numbers.
In 2000, a few more customers were added to the customer base and recognition of the Silcotech name grew beyond Canadian borders into the U.S. market. Silcotech was on its way.