UNIONTOWN, Ohio—Sometimes, something good can spring from adversity.
That certainly is what Erick Sharp is counting on with the creation of Ace Products & Consulting L.L.C.
When compounding giant Hexpol A.B. acquired Portage Precision Polymers Inc.'s rubber and silicone mixing operations from then-owner and President Doug Hartley in late 2014, several key PPP employees knew they would not be—and ultimately weren't—retained.
Sharp, the former PPP director of operations, was one of them. But he also knew he had several options. Topping his list was creating a consulting and material supply company to service the rubber, silicone and manufacturing industries, which is what he did.
He put plans in motion in January and had his new business operational shortly thereafter.
Sharp did it while closing down PPP's compounding facility in Ravenna, Ohio, for Hartley. The plant was not included in the sale, and mixing at the site was shifted to other Hexpol facilities.
“All operations at the Ravenna facility concluded on Feb. 13,” he said.
A new path
Sharp launched Ace because he has known for some time that there's an opportunity and a need for a consulting and material company in the rubber and silicone industries.
“I had always planned to launch this company at one point in my career, and with the transition at PPP, the timing made sense to do it now,” he said.
He said he enjoys helping companies go above the standard and reach new levels. “Offering successful solutions through products and consulting allows Ace to help companies grow on an even larger scale.”
Market studies show that now is a time of expansion in the rubber and silicone industries, according to Sharp, and he wants to play a part in that growth.
Ace offers consulting services for the rubber, silicone and manufacturing industries that include process launches, process improvements, new product development, supply sourcing, culture improvement and lean manufacturing. It also provides a large variety of training workshops.
In addition, the company supplies raw materials to the rubber and silicone industries.
“We are continuing to develop our silicone product portfolio centered on consistency and quality,” Sharp said, adding that silicone is a growing market and he intends to supply specialty niche products into that end of the business.
“For our rubber products, we have strategically aligned with other companies in order to provide a full range of products to our customers,” he said.
Sharp has a strong background in the silicone and rubber industries in virtually every area, which he figures will help his new company move forward. At PPP he directed all manufacturing, supply chain, quality, engineering and technical operations.
He joined PPP in 2011 as manager of the company's Ravenna plant after spending 10 years at Edgetech, where he gained significant experience in silicone compound development and extrusion, and he helped the firm add to its rubber mixing line, separate silicone line and mixing facility.
Goals and opportunities
Sharp said Ace has taken off quickly, so his present goal is to establish a brand that's well recognized within the industry in three years.
He admits it will take a little longer to establish the raw material products end because of the sourcing qualifications involved.
Nonetheless, he believes Ace will be a well-established company and provi-der to the industry within a five-year span.
“Consulting services have been very active already,” Sharp said.
To keep up with that demand, the firm has added contract consultants, mostly former PPP employees. “It has been exciting to see all the companies that have growth, improvements and expansions coming on in 2015.”
He said that starting out “we are contracting or representing raw material products. We are supplying technology and sourcing for many of the products we offer.”
Ace has an aggressive plan to reinvest in the company continually, Sharp noted, adding as it does that, it will start to evaluate the timing on when to bring hard assets and manufacturing on board.
The company's ultimate goal is to have manufacturing capabilities for some of its specialty products, he said.
Its present focus is on organic growth, he admitted, although it may consider an acquisition if it creates ways to better serve the firm's customers.
“The need and opportunity are out there,” Sharp said. “It is up to us to make the most of those opportunities and grow into a successful company.”