Moving south proved to be an opportunity for growth for Seelye, Inc., an international supplier of thermoplastic welding equipment.
Dominick DiChiria bought Seelye, based in Bloomington, Minn., in 1995. Three years later, DiChiria moved the business - along with its sister company, DJ Plastics - to Ocoee, Fla. where it currently resides.
"He had family here, and Florida was the best option for him to focus on the business," explained Paige Bowen, DiChiria's daughter and vice president of Seelye.
When the company moved, DiChiria hired additional staff to improve quality control and technical support.
Seelye and DJ Plastics (SeelyeInc-Orl.com), which specializes in distribution and custom fabrication, later welcomed two additional businesses into its Ocoee office.
Bear Machining & Supplies, Inc. (BearMachiningInc.com), a full service machining facility, partnered with DiChiria soon after his arrival in Florida. Tefen Plastic Products (TefenPlastic.com), which specializes in irrigation and tube fitting equipment, came on board in 2008.
While the four companies maintain their separate entities - Tefen still maintains a home office in Israel - working side-by-side is beneficial for them all.
"If one division needs help, the employees pull together," said Bowen. "We work as one company."
Each division has a presence on Seelye's new web site, which the company revamped to be more user-friendly.
"It shows all our products and services," acknowledged Bowen. "Now you can order Tefen parts from it. The special pricing we have for our distributors is also visible. We're a lot more accessible to our customers now."
The new web site also features Seelye's furniture refinishing business, welding videos and welding guides, Bowen noted.
Learn To Weld
Customers can also get hands-on experience with Seelye equipment. The business offers a thermoplastic welding training course that teaches participants the basic techniques of welding. The course costs $250 per person, and usually lasts around four hours.
"We basically show [customers] the ins and outs," stated Bowen. "We can do sessions with one person or in groups; whatever the customer is looking for. Dom is usually involved in teaching it, along with a salesperson."
Seelye's welding equipment - which includes heat guns, plastic welders, plastic welding tips, welding rods and welder elements - is handy for auto recyclers as well, noted Bowen.
"We're big in the auto industry," she remarked. "Car bumpers and radiators are plastic. [Auto recyclers] use our welders to repair those parts, instead of replacing them."
Since Seelye customers can order inventory from four different divisions, they have access to a wide range of products for a variety of markets.
"My first [Tefen] customer was a guy in South Carolina who ordered a bunch of tube fittings," said Bowen. "He had an alligator farm, and wanted them for hosing his alligators down."
Seelye's extensive inventory allows it to offer same-day shipping, and the company has a one-to-two day turnaround policy if repairs are necessary.
Seelye is a member of the International Association of Plastics Distribution (IAPD.org), and focuses on staying involved in the plastics industry. Seelye employees will attend the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, Fla. in January 2012, the WESTEC show in Los Angeles, Calif. in March 2012, and the International Plastics Showcase in Orlando, Fla. in April 2012.
Owners: Dominick DiChiria
Location: Ocoee, Fla.
Years In Business: 58
Number Of Employees:
10 (Seelye division)