NEWELL, W.Va.—Bellofram Silicones does not want customers to have to make a lot of calls trying to track down their needs.
The Newell-based company is striving to be a one-stop shop for converters using both solid silicone and closed-cell silicone sponge, and is adding to its offerings to do just that.
Bellofram Silicones, which supplies products to many different market segments, now is offering solid silicone sheets without a minimum order.
"For the converters that have just a small job out there that they only need one or two sheets, we wanted to be that person and not really hold them to a minimum (order)," said Matt Wingertsahn, general manager of Bellofram Elastomeric Division.
His division includes both Bellofram Silicones and Bellofram Diaphragm Division, which chiefly uses rubber to make dynamic seals.
The company began working on this new approach last year and started targeting these small orders at the beginning of the year. Bellofram Silicones can take this one-off approach thanks to the flexibility the company already has when it comes to approaching the market.
The business, which has seen tightness in the availability of raw materials to make silicone before, now stocks six months of its own inventory to ensure production is not interrupted or slowed. This inventory, along with a range of existing machinery, allows the company to approach these smaller orders without having to worry about minimums, Wingertsahn said. The company also can respond quickly at a time where supply chain disruptions are causing delays throughout the economy.
Having a manufacturing flexibility baked into its approach allows Bellofram Silicones to offer custom formulations for small orders. "We saw a void in the marketplace for a minimum order quality of just a sheet or two," he said. "Since we compound all of our own material as well, it's not that big of a deal for us to switch a color or put in something else."
The vast majority of Bellofram Silicones' sales are to converters, but the West Virginia firm does provide some finished products.
The company does not want to compete against its own converter customers. But there are times when converters themselves will approach the firm and ask for help in fulfilling an order. The company also provides converting to some existing customers.
While this probably accounts for about 2 percent of Bellofram Silicones' overall business, Wingertsahn said it is important to provide that service to be a one-stop shop.
"We see ourselves as mainly an industry supplier," he said. "That's one thing we don't want to do is compete against our own converters. … We don't actively look for any sort of converting."
Other recent changes at Bellofram Silicones include a decision to start handling a limited supply of rubber processing. Borrowing expertise from Bellofram Diaphragm, Wingertsahn is just looking to offer the rubber extrusion services to customers that might benefit from only dealing with one supplier.
"We're not looking to take over with anything or really compete," he said, "because there are some people who do that all day long, and that's their specialty and they are really good at it. We wanted to drive everyone back to us being a one-stop shop for our customers."