KENT, Ohio—DipTech Systems Inc. likes to keep its focus on what it does best and is not guided by popular twists in the market.
Those are two of the reasons it has been successful during the last several years, according to Jeff Charlton, vice president and head of the firm's machinery operation.
The eight-year-old company, which has been adding personnel in the last year because business has been strong, is noted for its proficiency in making specially designed dipping and coating equipment, used primarily in the medical and industrial product sectors, with health care being its largest segment.
“Our management philosophy is not governed by trends in our business sector but by the core principle that we are an extension of our customers' company, and if our customer is successful we are successful,” said Charlton, who's been with DipTech since the company was formed in 2004.
Not as well known, but an area where it has gained considerable expertise over the last few years, is its custom elastomeric goods operation.
The business, called Ameridip, operates two dipping laboratories where testing, product development and custom manufacturing of a variety of goods—including gloves, condoms, cath¼eters, caps, boots, balloons, breather bags, stents, grips and numerous others—takes place at the firm's headquarters and plant, which span about 15,000 square feet in Kent.
Filling a void
Investors led by industry veteran Thomas Doland—who serves as president and CEO of DipTech—created the firm in 2004 not long after ACC Automation Inc. closed its dipping and coating machine unit. ACC previously had been a dominant U.S. player in that market.
The machinery end of DipTech's operation grew at a steady rate. But as its customer base expanded, it saw a trend developing. Numerous clients needed assistance in finding a place to produce their goods on a contract basis, usually for the short term but sometimes for a longer period.
“So we tried to be a matchmaker with manufacturers but couldn't find a good match,” said Bill Howe, vice president, molding and coating services. That led the company into its product production business.
“It was more of an evolution than it was a conscious decision,” he said.
Howe had been handling special projects on a part-time basis for the company while he was building a consulting business, PolyTech Synergies L.L.C., which he started in 2004. He continues to serve as president of that firm but joined DipTech full time in 2007 to head the contract product business as it started to gain momentum.
DipTech's Ameridip operation serves as a bridge manufacturer. It can validate a customer's idea, handle the tooling, supply samples, get customers to the starting blocks and make the product.
Its dip molding laboratory operates with two Diplomat computer-controlled robotic dip molding and coating machines, made by DipTech, capable of modeling continuous and batch processes.
The firm works with just about every polymer material, including natural rubber latex, nitrile, neoprene, polyure¼thane, butyl latex, styrene butadiene, plastisol, EPDM and silicone.
Dip molding has a number of advantages in both high-volume and low-volume production, including product consistency, performance and competitive costs, Howe said.
“There seems to be more manufacturing of say up to 10,000 pieces a month; we can even do the compounding,” he said. “Up to this point, we have focused on small-to-moderate production volumes to aid customers who are not ready to commit to production equipment purchases. This allows them to transition to a point that we can help facilitate the transfer of the knowhow to allow them to eventually manufacture with our equipment.”
Some customers prefer that DipTech continue producing the item for them on a contract basis. Howe said that “we are working on developing our customer base and have established several repeat orders from various customers.”
At least one company has contracted with DipTech to produce its specially made product for close to three years.
By supporting process and product development for customers, the company can garner regular manufacturing orders or equipment purchases, Howe said.
A potential customer usually contacts DipTech with an idea or a sketch of an item it thinks will work in the market.
“Based upon the purpose of the product,” he said, “we evaluate the possible material options for producing the product, while maintaining a focus on the ability to scale up manufacturing Ã should the project move into higher-volume production.”
Once the customer determines the product is what they're looking for, and the process and polymer have been selected, “we participate with the customer in making parts for clinical trial or test marketing purposes,” Howe said.
On the machinery end of its business, DipTech—which designs, produces, fabricates and installs equipment—is doing well because of its “depth of experience over a broad range of industries—including medical, consumer products, automotive, food, electronics and fuel cells,” according to Charlton. “Our engineers and talented machine builders develop a strong bond with our customers over the course of a project, which often results in repeat business.”
Primarily because of the segments it deals in, he said, DipTech can't just offer vanilla to its clients “because someone out there wants chocolate. So we custom engineer our machines, and we operate like we're our customers' engineering departments.”
When the company quotes a machinery project or meets with a prospective customer, Charlton said it thoroughly reviews all requirements and applies an approach that will help achieve the customer's goals. If the initial goals are generalized, DipTech will help define the project to a point where it can move forward.
He said a great deal of engineering and preliminary design go into the development of a quotation for a customer, but by reviewing even the smallest detail up front, it hopes to not only instill confidence in a perspective new customer, but cut costs and the overall project timeframe.
“We take a cradle to graduation approach with each project and maintain the core team's involvement throughout the project,” Charlton said.
He said the idea is to help guide the customer in directions that will help the firm gain success while minimizing risks involved whenever possible.
“However, many projects also demand creative and innovative ideas, technology and concepts, and that is where it gets exciting” and where DipTech excels, Charlton said. “More importantly, we attempt to treat our customers as we would want to be treated, and we offer quality equipment and strong technical service at a fair price.”
Machinery is tailored to a customer's needs, which makes the company unique and positions it apart from its competitors, he said. “Our longevity is that we can service a wide market in dip coating and dip molding. We're not trying to force feed them with one type of machine. We're broad based.”