BOISBRIAND, Quebec—Elasto Proxy's new AS9100 certification is opening new markets for the custom rubber product fabricator and distributor.
The certification allows the firm, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, to break into the aerospace industry as Elasto Proxy continues a growth phase, said Roberto Naccarato, sales and marketing manager.
Headquartered in Boisbriand with a full production facility, Elasto Proxy started with seals and products for mobile equipment such as agricultural machines like graders and excavators, he said. It also provides for specialized vehicles like fire trucks, ambulances and armored vehicles. It produces seals for military vehicles, including both thermal and acoustic insulation, and also covers mass transit vehicles such as railway, subway and bus systems.
"Mobile equipment has always been our bread and butter in the industry," Naccarato said.
Elasto Proxy has been trying to raise its profile in the mobile equipment and vehicle market, which is part of the reason that it's trying to break into the aerospace industry, he said. The company focuses on low- to medium-volume, more niche products and applications.
"Customers that have issues, things that they cannot seal, or they're having acoustic or thermal issues and they need a problem solved. That's where we like to dip our toe in," Naccarato said. "More and more, that's where we decide to go into aviation or aerospace, because of the small volume, niche products. And obviously, solving problems for the aviation or aerospace industry is interesting."
When Elasto Proxy started to connect with aerospace companies, one of the first questions was always whether it was AS9100-certified, he said. The firm would go to military shows and do interviews with procurement managers or engineers excited because it could provide custom seals or a specialized gasket. But the process always ground to a halt when the question of certification came up.
"We decided, if we want to break through this market, we have to get certified," Naccarato said.
Making the grade
The certification that Elasto Proxy received in September 2018 came with an initial monetary investment and a focus on risk mitigation, but Naccarato said the team was excited for the challenge.
"Do we have the right suppliers for this type of project? How solid is the supplier that we have for this project? Once a part comes in here, what type of inspection does the customer need to have done? If it's 100 percent, what do we have to do to make sure that we get 100 percent inspection on these parts, and so on," he said.
Changing the company's mindset means Elasto Proxy needs to be able to show that it's thought about these questions when auditors ask, Naccarato said. If a gasket fails or isn't delivered to a plane manufacturer and a production line is stalled, it's not just a few hundred dollars per hour, but thousands. Elasto Proxy has to make certain that its vendors are audited on a regular basis, and procedures have to be revamped to verify that processes can be completed without any bumps. And going beyond aerospace, that shift in thinking carried over to other segments at Elasto Proxy.