Problem solving powers
Novagard Solutions, whose team thrives on custom development of new products
Novagard Solutions’ technical
experts recently faced a critical challenge: create a better way for a
manufacturer of auto parts to protect the leads near its high-intensity light
bulbs. Doing so could mean a new, seven-figure customer for the Cleveland-based
The tall order was followed by a quick response. For 30 years, Novagard
Solutions has provided advanced silicone-based sealants, adhesives, lubricants
and PVC foams for use in a variety of industries, including automotive,
construction, electronics, medical, general industrial, and product assembly.
It developed a patented, UV-curable sealant for the company that better protected
the light-bulb area.
Perhaps more importantly, a light bulb lit up.
“We realized we could take the technology and apply it to other industries and
applications. Doing so makes our inventions more scalable,” says George Buzzy,
Novagard president and CEO. “We’re never going to give up our engineering
mindset - we think that’s our soul - but now we’re taking things to the next
level, analyzing strategic places to develop our products.”
In April, the firm tweaked its solution for the auto-parts manufacturer and
collaborated with its technical team to launch a line of UV and dual-cure
(UV/moisture) encapsulants and gasketing materials. Products in Novagard
Solutions’ room-temperature vulcanates (RTV) 800 series cure in less than three
seconds, increasing customers’ product throughput to previously unobtainable
levels. The company’s unique chemistry allows paste products to cure up to 5/8”
thick with minimal energy requirements. Applications for RTV 800 products
include formed-in-place gasketing for interior or exterior applications, eliminating
the need to rack parts.
Focusing on Customization
Novagard Solutions often
competes for business in the adhesives and sealants industry with major players
like Dow Corning and Momentive Performance Materials. These large companies may
not always be interested in small and mid-sized projects, but Buzzy’s firm is
always looking for its next opportunity.
“We pride ourselves on working with smaller businesses with interesting
challenges,” he says. “What sets us apart is our willingness to develop new
products to a company’s specific needs and requirements. We will never take the
attitude that we are too big to help you out, or that you are too small for us
to be concerned.”
Regardless of the size of its customer base, Novagard Solutions aims to invent.
Buzzy, who joined the company in 2005 after serving as COO and CFO of
Cleveland-based software technology firm Datavantage, and as a consultant with
New York City-based Deloitte and Touche, says innovation in the industry
requires two facets: a big-picture thinker who recognizes trends and
communicates them effectively to staff, and chemists who take that information
and fervently solve problems. “If you say to chemists, ‘I want you to solve
this situation,’ they’ll happily stay up all night trying,” Buzzy says. Ask
them to identify marketplace challenges, however, and this is not easily
At Novagard Solutions, Buzzy and the firm’s other executives concentrate on
strategic direction and surround themselves with talented folks who are given
the space to thrive. Earlier this year, one of Novagard Solutions’ big-picture
ideas was penetrating the siding market.
“We noticed the primary product in that space was sub-standard and thought it
was a new avenue we could go after,” he says. The quick result: Novagard Siding
& Trim Sealant, a waterproof, permanently flexible, cost-effective product
for professional contractors that adheres to most common building materials
(surface temperatures from –40-400°F) and is VOC-compliant in all 50 states.
The company’s pioneering mentality won it a 2007 Evolution of Manufacturing
Award from SmartBusiness
magazine. The award, which
recognizes Northeast Ohio manufacturers who
“maintain a competitive advantage through innovation,” was presented to
Novagard Solutions because of its re-engineering of automotive-grade PVC foam
to reduce cost due to oil-price escalation while simultaneously improving
The award underscored a truth that’s important to Buzzy: At a time when many
Midwest manufacturers are struggling and relying on overseas labor, Novagard
Solutions is growing its sales (at an annual rate of 10% since 2002) and
continues to manufacture exclusively in the United States. That’s not to say he
ignores possibilities in China
and other countries; the company has achieved double-digit annual sales growth
to international clients over the last five years, a result of working with an
increasing number of overseas sales reps and distributors.
Concentrating on the Future
Novagard Solutions has
historically defined itself as a single-chemistry (silicone) adhesives and
sealants provider, but Buzzy is expanding the firm’s breadth. “To me, the most
important thing is to figure out what’s next,” he says. “If you don’t, chances
are you’re going to stagnate.”
While Buzzy says Novagard Solutions will remain focused on general industrial
and construction markets, his growth strategy includes market expansion and
introduction of next-generation products and technologies. One trend he expects
will gain momentum is the conversion from mechanical fasteners to reactive
“It’s hard for some folks to believe it’s stronger, faster and cheaper than a
weld, and it’s up to us to convince engineers of that truth,” Buzzy says.
“Converting the industry from nails, screws and rivets to adhesives won’t be
easy, but it would provide us with a great opportunity.”
To that end, Novagard Solutions announced in April its new methyl methacrylate
adhesive (MMA) products, two-component structural adhesives for industrial
applications that provide a one-to-one mix ratio, have handling strengths of
5-30 minutes, and do not require expensive heat cures. MMAs adhere to most
plastics, steel, PVC, polycarbonate, nylon, acrylic, aluminum, galvanized
surfaces, ceramic, and hardwood, among other surfaces.
“It only takes one idea or one execution of a new chemistry to create an
opportunity that can grow into outstanding products for new customers both
nationally and internationally,” Buzzy says. “To us, the future has never
SIDEBAR: Novagard Solutions At-a-GlanceHeadquarters
: 1977 as Foam Seal Inc.
: "Engineered Products … Innovative
: George Buzzy, CEO and president;
Ken Dagg, CFO; Doug McKinzie, vice president of Operations; and Carl Wilkes,
vice president of Sales and Marketing
Business in Brief
: Novagard Solutions provides
customized manufacturing solutions of advanced silicone-based sealants,
adhesives, lubricants and PVC foams. Its high-quality, engineered products are
used in the automotive, construction, electronics, medical, general industrial
and product assembly industries.