By Ryan Waldrep, Assistant Director for Entrepreneur and Small Business Development
Vidalia, Montgomery County | Region 9
For years, rubber and other materials were used to make gaskets and seals. Although these products worked, they had their drawbacks. They were heavy and would become brittle and require frequent inspections and repairs.
RCF Technologies had an interesting concept to fix this. They proposed using an old material—silicone— for a completely new application. Silicone had been around since the 1960s and had been used for the same old purposes, solving the same old problems. By using silicone, they were able to create seals that set new standards for fluid transfer and insulation.
RCF Technologies was founded in California in 1975 and moved to Georgia in 1993. CEO Dianne Zimnavoda and her staff of just under 40 employees supply seals, gaskets, ducting and a host of other products for major aerospace companies and the automotive racing (NASCAR) industry. Companies like Boeing, Airbus, Rolls Royce and GE use gaskets, seals and ducting components produced in Montgomery County.
While silicone permits the incorporation of additional components – allowing the product to be more efficient and reduce weight – these new advances were not well received in the engineering world.
Dianne frequently got the same responses when visiting with potential customers: “We know what silicone can do,” and “this is the way we’ve always done it.”
But she was persistent. RCF Technologies has the ability to produce seals, gaskets and ducting of nearly any size and type imaginable. Some of their products are timeless, such as traditional washers. Others are more complex and provide protection between two rigid surfaces. And some are very high-tech, allowing fluid to pass through a duct that is deigned to flex in any direction while in use.
All of these products are designed to operate in very harsh environments and in temperatures as high as 800 degrees Fahrenheit. RCF’s silicone-based seals and gaskets are lightweight and have a long lifespan, which are two critical factors in the aerospace industry.
One of the ways that Dianne expects RCF Technologies to continue to grow is through International Trade. Currently, exports make up 5 percent of the sales at RCF. Dianne has been able to grow these sales in part by taking advantage of the export services provided by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD).
GDEcD’s International Trade representatives have helped Dianne with connections for trade shows, identifying new markets that may be advantageous to exports and introductions to potential customers and key leaders in the aerospace industry.
These activities have allowed RCF Technologies to grow their customer base in Europe, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Japan and other counties. In the next three years, Dianne hopes to add significantly to the overall exports of RCF, with a goal of 25 to 30 percent.
RCF has certainly worked with many outside entities as they have grown in Vidalia and Montgomery County. Georgia Tech has provided assistance since their early days in Georgia. By using facilities and connections available, Georgia Tech assisted in testing and proving of new products, saving the company time and money.
When thinking about what entrepreneurs experience, Dianne comments,
“Don’t just do what other people have done. Look for ways around the problem. Make your own path.”
RCF Technologies continues to explore new and innovative ways to modify the product. For instance, they have developed a new fireproofing product for construction application that significantly adds to the fire-resistant properties that are required in new building construction.
Dianne feels that helping people move up and improve their lives is one of the most rewarding parts of her job, and she will continue to take people with innovative ideas and allow them to grow.
Learn more about RCF Technologies and their many different products that they offer here.
Got a Small Business question? Start the conversation! Contact Ryan Waldrep, Assistant Director for Entrepreneur and Small Business Development.