DELANO, MN Sil-Pro in Delano was presented the award for the High Economic Vitality Business of the Year by the Wright County Economic Development Partnership at its annual meeting at the Montrose Community Center Jan. 16.
Sil-Pro specializes in custom molded and extruded silicone parts for the medical industry. Customers for this growing high-tech business include major national firms such as C.R. Bard, Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic Inc., St. Jude Medical Inc., and 3M Co.
About 97 percent of the firm’s work is medical, mainly fashioning custom parts for long-term implants such as pacemakers, defibrillators, drug pumps, and catheters. Successful functioning of a Sil-Pro product can be literally a matter of life and death. According to Lee Carver, “The quality has got to be unbelievable.”
All operations are performed in a Class 10,000 clean-room environment a custom facility designed by Lee Carver, and constructed and equipped under his direct supervision.
The appearance of the clean-room and the entire facility is pivotal. Most prospective customers insist on inspecting the facility prior to requesting part quotes. For this reason and because of personal style, the Sil-Pro facility is a beautiful thing to observe.
Several months ago, Sil-Pro started getting into the industrial production market. At first, the fuel cell people approached them. They were cautious at first, but Sil-Pro decided to start with a $120,000 press purchase and for more than a year, they were not able to generate any profit from this effort. Now the work for the fuel cell industry has become very profitable.
Not too long ago, 3M contacted them about the possibility of making a short order of respirators or face-masks. The group at Sil-Pro jumped at the opportunity. The design team worked overtime to get the molds designed and made. Sil-Pro makes all of their own molds. The result was that 3M was impressed with the quick, quality service and has since given more work to Sil-Pro.
Lee Carver has enjoyed building this world-class company in Delano. He also liked the fact that his workers would be his neighbors. He knew the kind of people that emerged from the regional labor pool would be people with a strong sense of community and a dedication to hard and precise work.
Worker performance is crucial to Sil-Pro. Its custom-made products must meet the exacting standards of the company’s clients with absolute precision.
When asked about the ability of Sil-Pro to compete in a global market, Carver responded, “We are in a high-profile, high-tech field, and we have managed to stay ahead of the curve. We continue to work to increase our efficiency and quality. Right now we are going lean.
“We maintain our quality by doing extreme quality control testing. We magnify the finished product 10 to 30 times to search for the extreme best we can achieve. We also work at being very responsive, and pride ourselves on turning quotes very quickly. Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, 3M, and others all recognize our quality job and how quickly we can turn it around.”