DELANO, Minn.—Solid growth by Sil-Pro L.L.C. is giving the silicone product manufacturer the opportunity to grow and boost the amount of services it offers to customers.
From full device design and manufacturing to moving into the thermoplastics field and having a tooling shop at its fingertips, the company is looking forward to a profitable 2013.
"Sil-Pro since its inception has had good year over year growth," said Brian Higgins, vice president of sales.
The silicone molder saw a slight decrease in its rate of growth last year, but that hasn't kept it from remaining optimistic about the upcoming year. "The next 12 to 18 months look to be back to growth that we're more used to," Higgins said.
The company is seeking new opportunities, including longer-term projects, said CEO Kevin Carver.
"We are on the front side of new capabilities," he said, pointing to the firm's thermoplastics work, injection molding and design work. "We're taking all of our in-house capabilities and packaging them up and offering our customers completed assembly. … These products are bigger and take longer to get over the goal line."
The longer, fully completed projects could be the way of the future, according to Carver.
As customers come to the firm with market specifications, Sil-Pro's team has taken on the challenges of completing a product from design to finish, he said. "The customer owns the patent on it but we are doing the leg work in actually designing it for them."
Separating from the pack
Having a good reputation and relationship with its customers has and continues to push the firm to expand. "We're quicker and more nimble than other players are," Higgins said.
SilPro has gained an edge over larger companies because it can provide quality products in quick fashion, he said. For example, recently a customer needed 10 prototype tools made, and Sil-Pro was awarded seven of the tools while a much larger firm got three.
"We did all seven before they (the larger firm) could get three done," Higgins said. "When it got time to bid on the production for the business … they didn't even allow the incumbent, who was making the other legacy products that preceded these, to even quote on the project."
Delano-based SilPro's size means "we can have the service that's needed and the direct interaction and the service needed," Higgins said. "We can get things done but we can also have the quality systems in place."
The 140-employee firm has been able to focus on each order to provide the best customer service possible, Carver said. "We work hard to keep that sense of urgency going."
Doing that has kept the company growing and expanding, including its venture into thermoplastics.
"Were probably going to be expanding thermoplastics fairly rapidly," Carver said. He anticipates SilPro could double the size of the thermoplastics operation in a year or two.
The tooling shop at the Delano facility also might experience expansion. It was moved across the street from its previous location in 2012, and that offers Sil-Pro the chance to expand the shop to accommodate new machinery that would¬n't fit in the previous space.
The new shop also has unused space that could house a future expansion, according to Higgins.
Sil-Pro also may look to branch into some other allied fields down the road, Carver said. But in the meantime the firm has other projects to work on, some of which were transferred to it from either the customer's production line or a prior supplier.
Having a product line that already is established takes a lot of the legwork out of production because the customer already knows how much of the product is needed.
"It's really two different alleys (new products and established products)," Carver said. "We like it all."