MEDINA, OHIO (June 26, 3:40 p.m. EDT) — Ovation Polymers Inc. wants to take the high road to success in the engineering resin compounding market.
“We're focusing on high-temperature materials and specialty alloys,” president and founder Asis Banerjie said during a recent interview at Ovation's Medina location. “We're not interested in share-shifting to cut costs. We want to improve quality in some way. Taking headaches away from our customers is key.”
Ovation was founded in August 2004. Banerjie, an entrepreneur with almost 30 years of experience with plastics businesses in the U.S. and India, launched the firm with financial support from Early Stage Partners LP, a Cleveland-based investment firm.
In November, Ovation began commercial production of its compounds. The firm now has eight product platforms, eight patents and 22 active programs spread out among 15 clients. Ovation makes its NPE debut this year at Booth N7220.
“I'm not the most intelligent person, but I can find a gap,” Banerjie said. “I can find a small area and have some technological success. I can find a pothole in the road and fill it.”
To this end, Ovation is making compounds based on polycarbonate, nylon, acetal, polysulfone, thermoplastic elastomers, polybutylene terephthalate and similar materials. Most of Ovation's products sell for between $3.50 and $7 per pound. The 20-employee firm expects to post sales of between $5 million and $6 million in 2006 and aspires to hit the $40 million mark by 2010.
Ovation is using cross-linking, grafting and other advanced technologies to make compounds on a pair of twin-screw extrusion lines in a 55,000-square-foot site that previously housed an injection molding business. The site was vacant for almost two years before Ovation moved in.
“This is a good location for us, between two major cities in Cleveland and Akron that have a lot of history in plastics,” he said. “It's also important to me to create jobs here in northeast Ohio.”
Ovation's approach is to begin its work where the work of competitors such as GE Plastics or RTP Co. ends. Ovation wants to take performance in such areas as temperature resistance, thermal conductivity, chemical resistance and impact modification to levels well beyond those of standard materials.
“When we go and visit a potential customer, we don't even want to look at what they're doing with other compounders,” Banerjie said. “We want our research to take us ahead.”
Most recently, Ovation has commercialized a new grade of its G-Bar-brand compounds for use in small-engine tank applications. The material has superior low-temperature impact and barrier properties, according to Jennifer Falb, the firm's vice president of marketing and sales.
G-Bar also is a cost-effective, drop-in solution for processors, since it doesn't require new tooling or expensive secondary operations, Falb added.
Banerjie has taken a back-and-forth route to his current location. Born and raised in India's Bengal region, he completed his undergraduate education in India before receiving a doctorate in polymer science from Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University in 1977. He then worked for several plastics firms — including materials producers BFGoodrich and Allied Signal — before returning to India in 1988.
Once back in his homeland, Banerjie launched Inventa Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a firm that does research and development work in compounding and reactive extrusion. Chennai, India-based Inventa also produces commercial compounds, and designs and manufactures compounding equipment.
While still operating Inventa, Banerjie relocated his family to the Cleveland area in 2002 so that his daughters could attend American colleges. He worked as a consultant for compounding market leader PolyOne Corp. in Avon Lake, Ohio, for a year and a half before getting the itch to start a new business.
Banerjie began talking to local banks about financing, then met Early Stage Partners managing directors James Ireland III and James Petras at a business networking event in 2004. As fate would have it, Ireland and Petras had been looking for a method of investing in the polymer industry.
“I had a business platform in India, but I wanted to go global,” Banerjie said. “I wanted to be able to do significant invention work with rapid communication and with experimenting in an efficient way. This company was in my mind all the time.”