Name: Kevin Meyer
Business: Specialty Silicone Fabricators Inc. What he said then:
In September, The Tribune reported Specialty Silicone Fabricators in Paso Robles was putting up walls for its new facility on Rollie Gates Drive near the airport.
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Planned since at least 2008, the new 120,000-square-foot building will allow the manufacturer to consolidate operations once spread among three buildings. Two remain on Propeller Way, while the third was demolished for the new plant.
Designed to expand thermoplastics production, Meyer told Follow-Up File last spring that it would contain high-tech “clean rooms” to keep products contamination-free.
“The clean rooms cost more than the construction,” said Meyer, who expected to occupy the new building by April 2011. What he says now:
Interior redesigns have pushed back Specialty Silicone’s move to August.
“We need that space now. We’re completely capped out in terms of space,” Meyer said. But “the new building gives us considerable room for expansion.”
Business has continued to grow. Though the company doesn’t release financial information, it saw sales growth in 2009 and 2010, Meyer said.
“We had an exceedingly strong first quarter that we’re very happy about,” Meyer said. “Some of that is because of new markets that we’re opening up overseas. China, India — that part of the world is growing for us right now.”
In coming weeks, he’ll be traveling to trade shows there, as well as Germany and Japan.
Meyer demurred when asked about specifics of interior changes — such information could help competitors — but he did say they provide more electrical capacity and flexibility for growth.
In some industries, domestic manufacturers have lost business to competitors in Asia offering lower prices — made possible by lower costs for labor or raw materials. But Meyer said Specialty Silicone, like other makers of high-quality medical components, are holding their own against foreign competitors.
“Price is not really as much of an issue as it is quality. Reputation can command a high price,” he said. “Most medical device companies are in the U.S.
“That kind of market isn’t as sensitive to the overall economy,” he added. “If you need a pacemaker, you need a pacemaker.”
Headquartered in San Juan Capistrano, the company has about 350 employees, including those at its plants in Tustin and Michigan.
Long one of the largest private employers in San Luis Obispo County, it maintains about 200 workers in Paso Robles.
Its local employment dropped slightly in 2010. But it’s again adding positions.
While it may sell or lease the existing building, Meyer said that given growth, keeping it for future expansion is an option.
Once open, the new location itself should help spur business, Meyer said. That’s what his company found in Tustin and Michigan.
Client visits are a key part of selling to medical device companies, which make up 90 percent of Specialty Silicone’s customer base.
“When they come out to visit, they expect a very clean, modern facility,” he said. “A new facility that looks clean on the outside gives confidence to our customers.”
As the Paso business has grown over the years, it acquired buildings that it adapted. The interiors are suited for its specialized manufacturing needs, Meyer pointed out, but “the exterior doesn’t show it.”