25 Years of Rotary Shaft Seals
CinchSeal celebrated a wonderful milestone this summer of 25 years in operation. CinchSeal is more than just a company — it’s a family. Years ago, one of the company’s key employees started working at CinchSeal; she was 22 at the time. In 2018, that employee’s daughter has started her first summer job — working at CinchSeal.
That’s the type of generational, family-based ethic that has allowed CinchSeal to sprout from a simple idea back in 1994 and grow into a global leader in rotary shaft seals. With the first 25 years of successful operation under its belt, CinchSeal is now looking forward to its next 25 years of growth.
CinchSeal – In the Beginning
CEO David Pitchko got his original idea for stainless steel split rotary shaft seals when working for another company in the late 1980s and early ’90s. “The problems that I was dealing with in my market in Philadelphia and New Jersey were the same everywhere,” says Pitchko. “That problem: existing technologies in industrial food processing suffer from too much spillage, resulting in lost product, lost time, lost productivity, and lost money”.
“The technologies would never work well in powder applications,” Pitchko recalls. “Most of the sealing products that are in the industries today are truthfully designed for liquid applications, not dry powder-type applications. I knew that was a real niche, an area that we could focus on and solve customers’ problems.”
Pitchko began researching rotary shaft seal suppliers in the 1990s to see if he could figure out why there were so many recurring problems in the industry. After researching their patents,Pitchko fixed upon a better way to design a rotating seal — one that would be simple and cost-effective to repair or clean, and that would not cause so much product leakage on the factory floor. The idea for CinchSeal was born to fill this need.
CinchSeal – From Idea to Market Capture
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were not initially convinced that CinchSeal’s rotary shaft seals were necessary. Most OEMs had their own seals but didn’t realize the problems that the end-user customers in processing were dealing with. CinchSeal had to take what seems today like a counterintuitive approach to breaking into the marketplace.
Pitchko says CinchSeal solved that problem by going directly to end-user food production companies and convincing them to try the seals for themselves. When Pitchko’s seals delivered as promised, the end-users began demanding CinchSeal products when ordering new equipment from OEMs.
“That’s what finally brought in the OEMs,” says Pitchko. “They looked and they said, ‘What the heck is a CinchSeal? Everybody’s asking about them.’ We started talking to them and they became more confident.”
By 2019, 40 to 50 percent of CinchSeal’s customer base are OEMs, and another 50% are end-user production companies.
CinchSeal’s In-House Design
Staffing levels were another major problem that CinchSeal had to overcome in its early days. During the booming economy in the late 1990s, most of the talented engineers, machinists and machinery operators were already happily employed. Luring them away to risk their careers with a startup company was simply not possible. The shortage of engineers is a problem that exists in many industries to this day.
Another problem was that many states and counties eliminated vo-tech school opportunities at the tail end of the 1980s. It was a dual-threat to startup companies that needed skilled workers: the existing talent was already happily employed elsewhere, and vo-tech schools were no longer churning out graduates with an associate’s degrees in machining or engineering.
Pitchko knew that he had a hot product with CinchSeal, but there weren’t enough qualified workers to fill available slots as the company was ready to grow. The company came up with the solution to the skilled worker shortage in the early 2000s. They decided to grow their own team.
“We would take people in and because they were good hardworking people, reliable, trustworthy, bring them in, spend the time to teach them, train them, move up in their skills, and we’ve been doing that since.”
By starting their own in-house apprenticeship programs, CinchSeal was able to create the family-oriented atmosphere that exists at the company to this day. As mentioned earlier, employees who started with the company in its earliest days now have children going to work for the company.
The extensive training and employee loyalty that resulted from it also play a factor in CinchSeal’s effectiveness in 2019. If a brand-new customer calls CinchSeal, they can have a fully-engineered design spec for custom-made rotary shaft seals within 24 hours.
The CinchSeal Revolution
The first seal that was manufactured by CinchSeal was mainly designed for screw conveyor manufacturing companies. Pitchko’s idea for rotary shaft seals was an improvement over literally every other seal on the market in the 1990s.
“Their technologies were so rudimentary,” Pitchko recalls. “When you were out in the field, there was always a mound of material leaking out of the vessel and that was a real problem.”
Although the appearance and manufacturing techniques used by CinchSeal are different today, Pitchko says the company is still using the same patented design that originated in the early 1990s. One of CinchSeal’s signature products is the 9700 Series split rotary shaft seals.
Whether an end-user company is dealing with indirect contact food processing or mixing caustic chemicals, the stainless steel design of CinchSeal’s 9700 series makes it an industry leader. Rotary shafts that are churning tons of powder, slurry or liquid 24 hours a day generate extremely high temperatures — that’s just the nature of processing. But that also makes rotary shaft seals prone to leakage and breakdown.
Part of Pitchko’s idea that makes stainless steel seals so appealing is the ease with which they can be cleaned or repaired. The company even sells cost-effective repair kits, to deal with the inevitable breakdowns that happen with heavy equipment. The tightness of the patented, multi-part seals also prevents product leakage, leading to increased profits and reduced downtime.
The Next 25 Years – CinchSeal’s Global Expansion
CinchSeal Executive Vice President Mark Pitchko, who joined the family business in 2008, says the company is heavily focused on global expansion in the 21st century. “I envision a couple different manufacturing locations around the world and multiple distribution or stocking facilities as well,” says Mark.
That process is already underway. CinchSeal has been growing and capturing market share in the US for 25 years already. The company broke into the European market in 2009 and Asia in 2016. Plans to expand into South America are being considered as well. As CinchSeal continues to innovate, it’s finding new ways to utilize its rotary shaft seals. For example, these seals are now being used in the manufacture of the lithium batteries used in electric cars, which is helping the company gain a foothold in Asia.
“Our seals can be used on equipment and industries that are present in every country in the world, so the sky’s the limit.”
CinchSeal has no intention of turning its back on cleaner, more efficient food processing seals any time soon, however. “It is very satisfying to take away that ‘problem child’ piece of equipment that is a thorn in their side every day,” says Mark. “Hearing customers tell us that our seal works great and makes their life so much easier is rewarding.”
CinchSeal – 25 Years and Growing
- Established in 1994
- Growing customer base of OEMs and end user production companies
- Loyal employee base due to in-house apprenticeship and training programs
- Plans for increased expansion in Asia, Europe, and South America
If you need a solution to product manufacturing leakage and want a quote to see how CinchSeal’s rotary shaft seals can show you an immediate ROI, call us today at 1-856-662-5162.