Precision Gasket Co. (PGC) believes in partnering with customers early in the product development phase.
“We have a unique process that involves getting up front with our customers and having conversations with them as they work through their development and solving problems right away,” Vice President John Bower says. “Our customers rely on us to go into production as quickly as possible, and give us feedback on complex problems they are having related to material selection, which we are subject matter experts on.”
PGC’s team includes application engineers, manufacturing engineering and a global supply engineering manager, all of whom offer expertise on materials and other customer requirements. “We become a part of our customers’ team and not just a supplier,” Business Process Manager Sean Mussetter says. “We support their speed to market by offering the knowledge we have about materials and field applications.”
Founded in 1950, the company manufactures custom parts for sound and vibration control, adhesive fastening, gasketing, and electromagnetic interference/thermal control for a variety of applications ranging from medical devices to military vehicles to lawn mowers. PGC serves the aerospace and defense, fluid handling, medical, electronics and commercial industries.
“We are a partner in precision with our customers,” Sales and Marketing Manager Amber Fennell says. “We help them find a solution to their problems.”
One example of the company’s work is a multilayer adhesive medical patch used to deliver medicine to a person subcutaneously. “This is a product that many in the medical industry had tried but had not succeeded in producing,” she adds. “This patch improves the patient’s quality of life by providing a low dose of medicine when they need it.” PGC provided support for two years with material proposals and configuration options that were capable of being manufactured at its facility.
PGC works with more than 2,000 different raw materials, including a number of special materials that aren’t widely known by others in the industry. One of them is a closed cell urethane, known as the GC Series, which was developed for vibration dampening on railroads and buildings. However, PGC found a way to introduce it to the sealing and gasketing market.
An application for the GC Series material is within dynamic window seals used on military off-road vehicles. The material helped the military solve an environmental leak issue, allowing operators of vehicles using the GC Series seals to protect their rugged electronic equipment inside the vehicle as well as offer an additional escape route if the vehicle becomes compromised in combat, Mussetter notes.
The company last year greatly enhanced its materials knowledge when it added a global supply engineering manager position to its staff. The manager’s responsibilities include identifying new material-related technology and educating manufacturing staff about its use. “This is a position that is strategic to our vision and business continuity plan,” Bower says.
The Right Processes
PGC manufactures products in a 60,000-square-foot facility in Minneapolis that includes die cutting, digital laser and knife cutting, and punch press equipment. It has a robust supply chain that includes extruding and molding solutions. The company can perform rapid prototyping as well as produce large runs of parts from tooling produced in house.
“Our manufacturing process is very collaborative,” Mussetter says. “From the time we receive a [request for quotation] to the time that part makes it to shipping, it’s touching the hands of a lot of folks throughout the organization starting with the application engineer and working through our manufacturing engineers, manufacturing staff and quality personnel.
“We utilize our processes to deliver products to our customers exactly how they ask for them,” he adds.
In his position as business process manager, Mussetter is responsible for ensuring the company’s processes “are in direct alignment with what our customers’ expectations are for us and making sure we are following those processes consistently from A to Z on a day-to-day basis,” Bower says. Mussetter was promoted last year when the new position was created.
PGC is International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) registered and AS 9100 and ISO 9001 certified. “Our customers are looking for quality across the board, not just in the product we’re delivering to them, but also in our communications with them, our documentation and our delivery,” Mussetter says.
Quality is emphasized early during manufacturing. “In many manufacturing environments, quality is considered the last step, and you don’t hear about issues until it’s too late,” Bower says. “We place quality at the front end with our application engineers so we don’t get to the end and see we have a product that won’t pass inspection or meet our customers’ quality standards.”
PGC’s emphasis on quality and customer partnerships has allowed it to grow year after year. In 2017, the company’s revenues grew by 20 percent, Bower notes.
The company continues to invest in its people, processes and capital equipment. Recent investments include adding new punch press equipment to its manufacturing floor and visual inspection equipment to its quality lab. The company this year plans to add further capital equipment and new technology to its manufacturing operations, Bower adds.
Bower credits the company’s growth to its “bottom-up” operational approach, which prioritizes input from frontline employees rather than executives. “Our people are the greatest thing we have and are the fabric to everything we do here,” he adds.