WHITEWATER, Wis.—Sim Lim Technic L.L.C., an injection molder specializing in technical parts made from liquid silicone rubber, is growing in Wisconsin.
In December 2018, the company moved into a modern 10,000-sq.-ft. plant in Whitewater. That was a big step up from the 1,600-sq.-ft. building in nearby Burlington, Wis., where Michael O'Hara started the company in June 2015.
Part of the credit for the growth goes to a New Zealand-based partner. In 2018, O'Hara sold a 35 percent stake in Sim Lim to Skellerup Holdings Ltd., a publicly traded company based in Auckland, for $1.1 million.
Skellerup already owned Gulf Engineered Rubber and Plastic, a rubber and plastic molder with operations in North Carolina, Australia, Italy and New Zealand.
"Gulf/Skellerup is a well-financed organization, well-resourced organization, which Sim Lim will benefit from, in contrast to the early days of my startup," O'Hara said.
"It's a partnership that gives Sim Lim a much larger commercial reach," O'Hara said.
When it bought the stake in Sim Lim, Skellerup said it was seeing increasing opportunities for LSR products in the U.S., which already is its largest market. The company's existing rubber business was focused on potable water customers.
"We will combine the knowledge and reach of Skellerup and the technical expertise of Sim Lim to deliver high-quality solutions to existing and new original equipment maker customers," Skellerup CEO David Mair said.
Mair said Skellerup wanted to take Sim Lim's LSR expertise to a wider market, saying the product is ideal for sterile environments and for use in high-precision medical and consumer products.
"The business that I had was attractive to them because it was a new company. It ticked a lot of boxes, and they weren't inheriting any sort of culture. It was a blank sheet," O'Hara said.
Skellerup's interest is managed by Gulf Rubber U.S., and Michael Robins is the group president. O'Hara is vice president of engineering and technology.