CUYAHOGA FALLS: Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry can thank a niche manufacturer now in Cuyahoga Falls for making sure she didn’t have any accidental nude scenes in the 2004 movie Catwoman.
While the action movie was widely panned, the specialized glue that held together the seams of Berry’s skintight Catwoman costume has been widely praised. It’s since been used in Dancing With the Stars costumes.
Silicone Solutions, which makes the super strong and flexible adhesive, on Tuesday celebrated at its new headquarters and manufacturing facility in Cuyahoga Falls with an open house. The family-owned business relocated in December after 17 years in Twinsburg to an 11,500-square-foot building off Remington Road.
The polymer company develops and makes custom silicone sealants, gels, adhesives and more and also provides consulting services. (Silicone is basically an organic silicon polymer.)
“What we say is, ‘What do you need?’ ” said David Brassard, founder and president of Silicone Solutions.
The little company, with 13 employees, sells all over the world. Its silicone products help hold together solar panels on massive energy farms in China, keep truck diesel engines running properly — and even are used in SpaceX spacecraft. “Our stuff is in outer space,” Brassard said.
Silicone Solutions develops and makes stuff that much larger companies won’t touch, Brassard said.
“The big companies can’t be bothered with the little, little items,” Brassard said. “We’re the only ones in the world who do custom silicones.”
As it turns out, making a custom silicone product is a highly profitable niche, said Brassard. He’s a chemist by education and training.
Businesses will come to him with a problem that needs to be solved, Brassard said. Hollywood contacted them about ways to keep Berry’s costume intact and the adhesive he developed is stronger than the rubber it holds together, he said.
“I say, I’ll develop that and I’ll charge them. We have no salesmen and no marketing,” Brassard said. “We’ll give them exactly what they need.”
China’s solar industry, for instance, asked for a silicone product to help a solar farm withstand hurricane-strength winds, Brassard said. Now 20 to 30 drums of the stuff are exported weekly to China, he said.
“It’s a glorified glue. The solar units are put together with it,” he said.
Other Silicone Solutions products are used in medical prosthetics. It makes a product that protects and insulates high-output LED “light ropes” made by General Electric Lighting in Independence and is used at Walmart stores, he said. “This we’ve had for 15 years,” he said.
“It’s all niche markets.”
Brassard, 58, is originally from upstate New York. He has a degree in chemistry and worked over the years for a number of companies. It was when he got a job at sealant and adhesives company Loctite that he learned the value of focusing on customer needs and niches, he said.
“You price to value,” he said. “I break a lot of marketing rules.”
He started consulting and when one product he developed sold strongly, he decided to go into manufacturing, leading to the birth of Silicone Solutions.
“I prefer the R&D. I like to solve problems,” he said. His wife, an accountant, is vice president and manages much of the finances and his two daughters are involved in other parts of Silicone Solutions, he said.
The business has never lost money, he said. “We’ve always had low overhead.” In addition, until it used a mortgage to buy its new headquarters, Silicone Solutions has never had to borrow money, he said.
“We grew 250 percent last year,” Brassard said. “This year, we’re in a position to double again.”
That growth resulted in the move to Cuyahoga Falls. Brassard said he was unable to negotiate the right price to buy the Twinsburg facilities and decided to look elsewhere. The Remington Road facility proved the best spot. Brassard said after buying the property last June it needed about $300,000 in renovations and improvements such as adding laboratories.
“Essentially, we can double the square footage,” he said. “If that happens, we’ll have to punch a hole in the wall and expand.”
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org