Component manufacturer solves many ‘how to make’ challenges
Synapco-made components are an integral part of many other product offers ranging from cars to electrical goods, transport systems to office furniture.
The Technology Valley Gracefield-based business has for the past 38 years concentrated on custom moulding of rubber and plastic products and components for others. It has built a formidable knowledge in developing product solutions for clients who almost invariably come and ask “can we, and do we make it?”
Synapco works with engineers and designers in product development and prototyping through to high and low volume manufacture, utilising a wide variety of polymers.
Having both plastic and rubber manufacturing capability on the same site is unusual says Synapco Managing Director David Ussher, “but one that allows us to offer interesting approaches to solving client challenges.”
David lived his early life in Timaru, and graduated from Otago University with degrees in microbiology and commerce. Moving to the Capital he took a sales position in the chemical industry which included plastics and rubber in the portfolio.
In 1981, along with a partner, Synapco was launched as a rubber manufacturer (Synapco is an acronym for Synthetic and Natural Polymer Company).
Plastic demand grows
Demand for plastic products grew during the late 1980s, and became the dominant part of the business by the mid 1990s.
He took sole control in 1996, and has been creating and making custom designed components and products ever since.
At various times up to 50% of Synapco’s output has been for overseas customers, particularly in specialty engineering products for the Australian auto industry.
Davide gives the example of how his company’s flexibility allowed them to compete against larger foreign suppliers in this very competitive industry.
Synapco manufactured up to 18,000 coil spring sleeves for Monroe shock absorbers each week - putting them on a plane every Friday for use in Sydney on a Monday.
“During the week we could be asked to change the sleeve mould to another model because of a new scheduling in the Sydney spring plant,” says David.
“The same product ordered out of China or Europe would require a minimum 10 week lead time with no flexibility. Our flexibility mean Just-In-Time supply with reduced inventory for the customer.”
However, with all car manufacturers now closed in Australia, Synapco has withdrawn entirely from the auto industry.
The company continues to produce custom-make products for overseas clients.
“We’re a relatively sophisticated market with competitive labour costs,” says David.
“Because we’re small and remote, we often choose to devise our own unique solutions which are most superior to what the customer could find in their home markets.”
Even as Synapco develops its own products (with associated intellectual property), it will continue to push its custom moulding business.
Part of the company’s ‘secret sauce’ is in automating its injection moulding process.
“We’ve found that most automation projects are so specific we have to build it ourselves,” David says.
“We, especially because of our general manager Dave Pine, are really good at that.”
(Picture: Synapco managing director David Ussher beside a poster for the company's own product a SafeWaste wheelie bin closer)