Philpott Solutions, which has local facilities in Aurora and Brunswick, plans to turn the 45,000-square-foot Aurora facility into a hub of manufacturing and operations.
With the recently announced move of Philpott Energy from West Virginia to Aurora, the facility is set add several jobs, according to Dr. James Vaughn, the company’s new chief executive officer who took the reins in January.
“Our company’s energy and transportation was centric to West Virginia,” Vaughn said. “We were leasing property in West Virginia. After looking at what’s going on with the marketplace, looking at where fracking is really happening, we found it’s really in Ohio and Pennsylvania.”
The heart of fracking country includes areas in Ohio and Pennsylvania, extending east to Scranton, he explained.
“When we were in West Virginia, we were so far away,” he said. “We can take advantage of our existing site here. We save some costs getting out of our lease in West Virginia.”
Vaughn said the company sells an environmentally friendly polymer fluid that serves as a lubricant during the fracking process.
During the drilling process, he said the fluid prevents the drilling from seizing up, and, after the drilling is completed, serves as a wash, suspending plug remnants, and sand and chemicals used in the drilling process.
“Because our polymer is near food grade, we render the well green at the end of our process,” he explained.
Bringing Philpott’s Energy and Transportation division to town will bring with it three or four jobs, which will add the company’s current 15 positions associated with the rubber and plastic business, according to Vaughn.
“We’re about two to three months from putting a second shift in here,” he said of the Gentry Drive facility in Aurora.
About 20 percent of the West Virginia energy and transportation operation was moved to Aurora as of last Thursday, and Vaughn said the move will be complete by the end of August.
“There’s plenty of room to build out,” he said of the Aurora building. “We’re going to build out our industrial lines, as well.”
Philpott Solutions is an umbrella organization for Philpott Rubber and Plastic, Philpott Energy and Transportation, Philpott Specialty Products and a Beijing operation, said Vaughn. The Brunswick facility serves as the company’s headquarters, “but I like spending time here,” said Vaughn of the Aurora location.
The company produces a wide range or rubber and plastic products, from chutes for bowling ball returns to gaskets of varying sizes and shapes.
“We do have retail, and we’re actually expanding our retail a little bit,” he said, adding the company’s retail includes parts for hand and power tools, gaskets for lighting, running boards for class cars and more. “Eighty to 90 percent is in industrial markets — pumps, machinery, gaskets, seals, diaphragms, check balls, valves.”
Jim Miller, technical director at the Aurora facility, said there are three basic types of production that are set up there.
The first, thermoplastic injection molding, involves melting down plastic and “shooting it into a mold,” he said.
The second is thermoset elastomer work, which uses a delicately set combination of pressure, heat and time to create rubber parts.
“It’s basically the same process that creates diamonds,” said Miller.
The third type of rubber and plastic production at the Aurora facility is cast urethane, which Miller said involves a polymer “setting up under heat.”
In his short time with the company, Vaughn said the biggest challenge has been finding reliable employees, adding that his first hire, Rorell Dickerson who had recently graduated from the police academy when he was hired in March, was a “great find.”
“We have a trial for our labor of six months while they’re working as temps,” he said, explaining if workers proves themselves in that period, they may be offered a full-time position.
Philpott Director of Operations Ron Strayer said Dickerson will be a key employee as it moves it’s China rubber and plastics business back to the U.S.
“Rorell will play a key role in helping us continue to fulfill our customer promise to deliver parts of the highest quality, on time and of a remarkable value,” said Vaughn. “Rorell’s position is one of the many that will be created as a result of our reshoring program.”
Vaughn himself is new the company, as well. He came on board as the chief operating officer in January and was promoted in June to chief executive officer.
“We were most fortunate to attract Dr. Vaughn, who is one of the most professional, energetic corporate leaders that I have ever met,” said former CEO Mike Beach.
Vaughn, who has a variety of industry experience with General Electric Co. and Omnova, said he felt like the new position seemed like a culminating position in his career.
“It seemed to me that all those things that I had experience in in past were all coming together at one time,” he said. “Right now, it seems to be working out alright.”
He’s worked in the past as a chemist, has overseen quality control, helped develop new plants, done project design, worked in sales and “ran two businesses for Omnova with $200,000 to $250,000 in business.”