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Third generation set to take over operations at Sivon

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Sivon's  Manufacturing Co's leadership team
The Sivon's Manufacturing Co's leadership team, both past and present, include, from left, Shawn Ritts, Charlotte Kieffer, Shane Ritts, Ronald Kieffer and Kathleen Ritts.

PERRY, Ohio—Sivon Manufacturing Co. is a true family business success story. And now the manufacturer of a full range of equipment for the rubber industry is turning to its third generation for leadership.

Charles Sivon started the Perry-based company in the late 1930s, before his daughter, Charlotte Kieffer, and her husband, Ron, took over management in the 1970s.

Now on their way to “semi-retirement,” the Kieffers are transitioning management to the third generation, their daughter, Kathleen Ritts, and her husband, Shawn.

Among the various industries that Sivon Manufacturing sells to regularly is the architectural field, where the company supplies a number of O-rings and other automotive molds.

Its rubber gaskets and seals also sell to a wide variety of machining and automotive suppliers.

The company's full range of products include rubber cutters, vulcanizers, splicers, injection transfer presses, molds, accessories and adhesives.

Key growth markets

“One of the growth areas for us is the oil and gas industry,” Charlotte Kieffer said. “That is an industry where a lot of rubber is used and where there is more demand for products. It is an area where more of our business will come from in the future.”

The aerospace industry is another area of growth for Sivon Manufacturing, she said.

Airplane manufacturers, both commercial and military, want to ensure that their aircraft achieve reduced noise and compression levels.

Sivon Manufacturing has a global presence in each of these industries. Even as an employer with less than 10 professionals involved in the day-to-day operations, Sivon Manufacturing has the ability to sell globally to manufacturers to ensure that growth continues outside of the U.S. market.

“That has been an important part of our strategy,” Charlotte said. “Today, you have to be a global player no matter how big or small you are. So we have set up foreign distributors and an infrastructure and partners that allow us to sell everywhere. In fact we just shipped some product this morning to the United Kingdom.”

Sivon Manufacturing has supplied the rubber industry with the SMACO bench model vulcanizers in multiple sizes, from portable to large 12x12 injection or transfer presses.

The most popular size is used in all industries splicing O-rings, to corner gaskets for complicated profiles. 

“We are a full-service manufacturer for our customers from the splicing units, and with molds for splicing the extrusions, rubber cutters and the adhesive to splice,” Charlotte Kieffer said.

Adhesives made by Sivon Manufacturing are composed of neoprene, SBR, EPDM, Buna-N and silicones. Many are food grade acceptable, she added. Sivon also produces a contact adhesive that crosslinks at room temperature along with a splicing two-component neoprene-based adhesive that cures at room temperature.

There will be an estimated six-month transition period before the Kieffers turn the full operation over to their daughter and son-in-law.

Shawn Ritts said additional training will be needed for him and Kathleen, adding that the transition to the new management team will be very transparent.

“All of our customers know about this plan, but nothing will really change for them,” he said. “The same level of service and products will be available to them. But we will also be looking at adding to our product line.”

Future offerings

One of those expanded product lines will include new adhesives to meet the needs of various industries, Ritts said.

Future products that Sivon Manufacturing hopes to add include a cold bonding sponge rubber and a two-component adhesive that works efficiently at ambient temperatures, according to Ron Kieffer.

“It's perfect for construction or other industries that issue big or heavy equipment,” he said. “You apply the cement and let it set over night. Bonding applications are something we are continuing to look at.”

Sivon Manufacturing will make other operational investments over the next two years, Ritts said. That will include a newly redone website at www.sivonmfg.com, along with other technological upgrades.

Ron Kieffer has been responsible for much of the technical knowledge at Sivon Manufacturing for a few decades, and while he laughs at the notion of his “semi-retirement plan,” he and Charlotte will continue to serve as technical consultants to the family business for at least several months.

The company is very proud of its family heritage, Charlotte Kieffer said.

“Some of our customers have been with us for 40 or more years,” she said. “You don't have many small family businesses like us doing this anymore, so we must have been doing something right.

“We're really proud of the fact that we are keeping it in the family,” Charlotte said. “It's what Ron and I always wanted.”