Three business partners—all from Dow Corning Corp.—“rolled the dice” to form the rubber product maker Specialty Silicone Fabricators Inc. in 1984.
Three decades later, the firm employs 200 and has manufacturing sites in Tustin and Paso Robles, Calif., and another in Michigan.
Marketing Manager Chris Mazelin said his father, Thomas—one of the founders and now retired and living in Las Vegas—had been on the industrial side of Dow Corning for years, but when the family moved to California in the 1970s he recognized the need for fabricating silicone components for the medical device industry.
Shortly after Specialty Silicone opened its doors, management recognized the need to grow, Mazelin said. The firm moved from its original location to Paso Robles and also purchased a local company in Santa Ana called Innovative Surgical Products.
“That was vertical integration,” he said. “ISP did contract packaging and assembly. It was a perfect segue into medical device packaging and assembly work. We already had been doing components for medical devices. This added more value-added steps.
The ISP part of the business moved to Tustin in 2005, and a few years ago the main facility was expanded in Paso Robles. Mazelin said the new 100,000-sq.-ft. facility in Paso Robles has 40,000 square feet of Class 10,000 clean room space.
“Instead of having three separate buildings with three different manufacturing areas in each building, now you have one manufacturing floor inside one envelope,” he said.
The company's quality systems, along with its offerings, have evolved over the years. Tustin now is licensed for drug manufacturing, as “we've recognized the need to expand into mixing active pharmaceuticals into silicone and other polymers,” Mazelin said. “We've been involved in those kinds of steps for years.”
The Michigan facility was set up to better serve the firm's Midwestern customers, and essentially it is a duplication of the Paso Robles plant, though with a smaller footprint. In general, he said Michigan officials are much more embracing of business than their counterparts in California.
And while Specialty Silicone Fabricators will remain put in California, Mazelin said when he retires, he will follow his father's lead and move elsewhere. “As soon as I'm in that situation, I'm not going to live here,” he said. “Weather is great. But I grew up in Michigan. I think I can handle it. Why would I give money to idiots who don't know what to do with it?”
This video and story came from an industry roundtable that Rubber & Plastics News hosted at R.D. Abbott Co. Inc.'s headquarters in Cerritos, Calif. To see complete coverage, including more videos, stories, exclusive online content and a photo gallery, go to www.rubbernews.com/California.