Cavaform International LLC, a St. Petersburg-based maker of molds and injection-molded products for clients across multiple industries, has won a 2021 Sterling Manufacturing Business Excellence Award at the bronze level.
Established in 1992, the highly competitive Governor’s Sterling Award program — more than 140 companies were nominated this year — represents one of the most prestigious accolades a Florida-based manufacturer can receive. The awards are presented by the nonprofit Florida Sterling Council, funded by the Office of the Governor, that helps companies elevate performance and increase productivity.
“All this does is tell us what we already knew, which is that we must be doing something right,” said Nick Scalamogna, the company’s general manager and controller, in an interview with the Catalyst.
Founded in 1978 and headquartered at 2700 72nd St. N., near Tyrone Square Mall, family-owned Cavaform has grown from humble beginnings into an essential supplier to huge, name-brand clients such as Siemens, a maker of medical devices. Scalamogna, a 13-year veteran of the company, has witnessed major changes during his tenure, saying Cavaform greatly expanded its customer base starting in 2018 and now has 83 employees to help keep up with growth.
“For years and years, we had the same set of customers,” he said, “about 30 repeat customers, but we probably had five that were our top customers. And so if one of them had a bad year, we had a bad year. And if one of them had a good year, then we benefited from that.”
Scalamogna said the up-and-down-nature of the company’s work pipeline, combined with a shortage of skilled workers, made it difficult to grow and expand.
“The nature of our employees here, they really are craftsmen,” he said. “You can’t just find them on the street; you can’t just put an ad in the paper.”
Everything changed, Scalamogna said, when the company promoted Chris Outlaw, another longtime employee, to sales engineering manager.
“He was our engineering manager but had tremendous credibility with the customers; he really related well to people,” Scalamogna said. “And so we promoted him. And as soon as we did that, it created instant credibility in the marketplace. And then Chris, he views everything from a process standpoint. So he went out and not only did he get a bunch of new customers, but he reengaged with customers that we hadn’t done business with for years.”
About 70 percent of Cavaform’s business comes from the medical technology space, Scalamogna said, although in the past three years the company has increasingly branched out into consumer products — for example, it produced improved molds for K-Cup Pods used in Keurig coffee machines. In the past, K-Cup Pod molds were vacuum formed, but Cavaform came up with an injection mold that carried the added benefit of making the product recyclable.
“That was a big project for us,” Scalamogna said. “I think we made them six molds.”
Lockheed Martin Aerostructures in Pinellas Park was also a Governor’s Sterling Award winner, taking home a gold-level award.
“Manufacturing is a critical industry here in Florida, and our manufacturers set the bar for the rest of the nation,” Florida Sterling Council Chairman John Pieno stated in a press release. “We are pleased to honor these 18 outstanding Florida organizations who are role models in their industries and are deserving of this prestigious award.”