RAVENNA, Ohio—After opening its newest expansion to customers only in March 2018, Ace Products and Consulting L.L.C. is leaping through its goals for adding on new capabilities and launching its iLearn Innovation Institute training program.
The company saw initial quick growth by taking advantage of the closing of DuPont's facility in Stow, Ohio, adding office and testing equipment, and most importantly employees used to working in an accredited environment, said Erick Sharp, president and CEO of Ace.
Now coming up on its first anniversary of opening the new addition to customers, Ace has continued growing at the same dizzying pace, investing about $3 million in the new initiatives.
"It's kind of how we got to where we were last year, just by listening to our customers," Sharp said. "As we built the place out and started laying out our expansion plan for what we wanted to do, we made a mistake in a joking way of letting people know what our plan was. Once customers got to know that, they would ask if we could do it now."
With customers requesting more testing capabilities, it made sense to push through the original multiple-year plans to offer the full package to customers, Sharp said. Ace wanted to show that the same growth processes that they had set up in the last year could be repeated across the board in other capabilities.
"We wanted to be able to work with both physical and analytical testing, some of the conditionings and different specialty tests," Sharp said. "That way, we can support all their needs so they don't have to split things up at different places for the same unit."
Though every company should have a second source, it makes sense to try to keep all of the aspects of a property at the same place, Sharp said.
"Once we got going with it, saying, 'We're going to go ahead and do this part because it'll allow us to round things out. We might as well go ahead and do this part.' Then, it was, 'Screw it, let's just finish it.' We completed the phases we had laid out for three years. Now we're looking at what's next, what are the other areas we need as we continue to grow those and strengthen it."
As Ace continues to grow, Sharp still is catching customers up on its new equipment and capabilities, he said. All in all, the company has added 14 pieces of equipment in the last six months of 2018. Those include inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (which covers California Proposition 65 testing), X-ray fluorescence, temperature retraction and scanning electron microscope, among others. It now has four different mixers (including two Banburys, a tilt body and a sigma mixer). While a lot of the recent expansion has been about analytical testing, Ace is working on bringing on some dynamic testing in the future as well.
"People are still learning what our capabilities are, we're finding, and learning what we have here," Sharp said.
New equipment isn't the only measure by which Ace has grown, either. Compared to last year, the company's footprint expanded from 6,000 square feet of its current facility to about 20,000 square feet, including new offices and work spaces, as well as classrooms for its new iLearn modules. The entire facility covers 175,000 square feet, and some of that space could be used for some auxiliary incubation projects later on, Sharp said.