When the architect responsible for the design of the Sky Dome stadium in Toronto realized he had a problem, he sought the help of Seal Master Corp.
The architect needed to seal the huge sections of the movable roof when it closed and asked the Kent company to find a solution. The company came up with an innovative solution involving very large, inflatable seals.
Edward Bittle founded Seal Master in 1974. He was nominated for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in the master entrepreneur/manufacturing industrials category.
With a background in rubber seals at BF Goodrich, Bittle moved to New York and grew the inflatable seal division of the Presray Corp. from nothing to a success. With that experience, Bittle founded Seal Master Corp., which designs and manufactures custom rubber products. The company specializes in inflatable seals, and markets to the military, the Bureau of Mines, the Corps of Engineers, General Motors, General Electric and Steris, among others.
The industries it deals with are widespread.
“You name it, we sell them something,” Bittle says. “The F15 and F16 (airplanes) have our canopy seals. They can’t fly without them.
“We have a niche with the type of product we make. There aren’t many in the world who make it, and we have more experience in that niche than anyone.”
Part of the company’s success stems from its innovation. Lacking the capital to acquire equipment such as large autoclaves, Seal Master developed alternative production methods. The result is that Seal Master can make things larger than the largest autoclave in existence.
The company has a talent for solving problems, creating special products in response to needs identified by engineers around the world.
“People have problems sealing things. They let us know about it and we come up with a design and make a product that solves the problem,” Bittle says.
The biggest challenge facing the company is a shortage of workers.
“The kind of factory jobs people are lamenting are gone, we still have. But people don’t want them,” Bittle says.
With a strong job market, Seal Master, like companies across the region, has difficulty finding quality workers. But despite the problem, Seal Master plans to continue growing with “more of the same,” using better methods to address problems that cannot be solved by conventional means. It also plans to increase marketing efforts by engaging representatives in Europe and Asia.