by Alan Rosenhoch, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise
Headquartered here in Buffalo, NY, and in business since 1919, Tapecon is a highly technical and specialized printing and converting company. Through the years, Tapecon has positioned itself as an industry leader in niche markets with unique value propositions and technologies. It has achieved this through a mix of in-house services – driven by experienced and innovative employees –matched with manufacturing platforms that deliver superior products. Five generations of family ownership have proven to be nimble, open to change and invested in innovation.
Tapecon currently focuses on Medical/Medical Device, Industrial OEM, Electronics and Military/Aerospace markets. Long-term vendor and customer partnerships are paramount. Products include: single-use medical diagnostics, printed electronics, custom converted functional parts & shields, product identification, and other printed markings. Tapecon’s services platform includes: in-house industrial & electronics engineering, commercialization services, validation services, graphic design, prototypes, and supply chain maximization. Their mix of competencies drive value for their customers.
Tapecon is ISO 9001:2008 & ISO 13485:2003 Registered, and cGMP Compliant.
Steve is a passionate advocate for operational continuous improvement, and has worked to create and sustain a progressive culture of change and innovation within Tapecon. He graduated from Clarkson University in 2001 with a Bachelors in Engineering and Management & MBA in International Business at St. Bonaventure University. In 2005 Steve returned to Buffalo to join Tapecon Inc. as a Manufacturing Engineer. He was promoted to Director of Manufacturing in 2007 and again to his current role as Vice President in 2009.
I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Davis a few questions:
Q. Tapecon offers the ability to work with a client’s concepts. Who are some of your clients and what have been your most unique projects?
A. We are an extension of our customer’s design and manufacturing process. We help our customers design, grow, and improve their products. 3M Medical and GE Healthcare are a couple of key clients. We have had a strong partnership with 3M for over 40 years.
As part of our expansion project we worked with 3M on various improvements and process validation to improve process capability across their product lines.
Q. How has a Buffalo Niagara headquarters, the local manufacturing industry, and our workforce affected Tapecon’s success?
A. Our location offers value from a sales and logistics standpoint by allowing quick access to different regions by air or ground. Our airport is convenient in bringing customers in or getting our sales staff out with competitive rates. The open communication among manufacturers in our region has promoted shared education of best practices and allows us to compete more effectively as a region.
Q. With Tapecon customers in numerous industry sectors; how much of your business is concentrated in the medical/medical device sector?
A. About 35% and growing.
Q. Was targeting the life science industry always part of your business plan? If not, how did you identify it as an opportunity for growth?
A. Not always. In 2011 we took a strong look at the industries we were serving and put a strategy in place to target more in the medical and life science industries. We have produced single use medical diagnostics for many years but saw the opportunity to grow within the industry using our full capability.
Q. Tapecon’s medical products fall under the advanced manufacturing umbrella as well. Advanced manufacturing has a long rich history in Buffalo Niagara, as does Tapecon. The industry has evolved with time and Tapecon has been able to stand the test. What would you say are the key factors that have sparked Tapecon’s growth over the years and ability to shift directive?
A. I think that over the years we have learned to focus on strong partnerships and collaborations with vendors and customers. As our customers’ needs change we adapt and change with them to continue to add value. Open collaboration and a team approach are core values that drive this. Change is a constant at Tapecon and all of our employees expect it and participate in the change.
Q. What collaboration work, if any, do you (Tapecon) participate in with other local institutions or companies?
A. We are an active member of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and participate with the Manufacturing Council which hosts educational events and local factory tours. We also help support the Dream It Do It campaign lead by the BNP. We also support the Niagara Frontier Industry Education Council by hosting teacher tours and participating in career fairs aimed at raising awareness of careers in advanced manufacturing.
Q. The life sciences and advanced manufacturing industries in Buffalo Niagara today are drawing a young professional, smart and creative workforce. What do you think Buffalo Niagara has to offer this distinct workforce both personally and professionally?
A. There are a lot of opportunities for professional development through programming and networking from a variety of organizations. Educationally we have it all – from certification programs to degree programs. There are so many options to take advantage of, it’s just a matter of keeping up with it. From a personal perspective when I need to balance my life it isn’t hard given all of the different festivals, music, sports, cultural diversity and natural resources in the region.
Q. What Life Sciences organizations, events, campaigns, or community outreach do you personally or professionally participate in, at what level, and why – if any?
A. I graduated from the UB Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) Core Program in 2011 and am now an active board member in the alumni association (CELAA). I enjoy helping to engage all of the entrepreneur spirit in the area. The High-Tech CEL program is aimed at early stage and Life Science companies and is a great resource. The collaboration is what makes the innovation come alive. I also enjoy attending the Life Sciences Commercialization Lecture Series and recently participated in the Innovation Center open house, which was excellent.
Q. What is your outlook for the growth of the Life Sciences industry, in Buffalo Niagara over the next 5-10 years?
A. That depends a lot on how the commercialization process occurs for the research capacity that is being developed here, as well as how you define successful growth. Funded research won’t bear economic fruit without a market or without good product and process development. Tapecon is just one company locally that plays a role in the “extension” of a concept through to a scalable manufacturing process that meets quality standards. The commercialization process, intellectual property, and ultimately the sustained jobs need to stay and grow in Buffalo Niagara to consider the investments successful for our region. I’m optimistic that we can pull it all together.
Interested in learning more about Tapecon? Register to attend a tour on May 9 hosted by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.