Waterville TG : Masters in Adaptive Sealing Solutions

Michael SommerfieldKieron HarveyLauren Kania
Michael Sommerfield - Project Manager Kieron Harvey - Project Manager Lauren Kania - Junior Editor

We revisit Waterville TG with Sylvain Dube, General Manager of Business Strategies, as he tells us about the company’s vast history of innovation and leadership and how it continues to design high-performance vehicle sealing solutions that exceed expectations.

MASTERS IN ADAPTIVE SEALING SOLUTIONS

With a proud history marked by a constant search for the best solutions, Waterville TG has been guided by the bold and visionary spirit of its founders since its inception in 1952. 

Beginning with sponge rubber products in Quebec, Canada, the company has worked diligently over the past seven decades to become experts in the development of custom sealing systems for vehicles whose quality and performance have since become recognized globally. 

This international recognition stems from the technical expertise, R&D investments, and experienced employees that Waterville TG prides itself on. 

To this day, the company continues to rely on these assets to support each customer in the design and manufacturing of sealing systems that improve comfort for vehicle occupants. 

Since last speaking to Waterville TG in October 2022, the business has progressed even further in evolving its product offerings, creating positive environmental contributions, and developing investments towards automation within the manufacturing industry. 

“We are a supplier of dynamic and static weatherstrip systems for the automotive industry,” reintroduces Sylvain Dube, General Manager of Business Strategies at Waterville TG. 

“We offer a turnkey service to our customers, from the custom design to material development and manufacturing process up to the mass production of these parts.” 

Amongst the company’s vast client base, it can count major automotive manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors (GM), Honda, Stellantis, and Toyota for both their mass-market and premium brands. 

Waterville TG has expanded across Quebec and Ontario with the construction of three production plants and one distribution center, and now boasts over 1,000 dedicated employees who work daily to showcase the reason behind the company’s long-standing global reputation.

ALWAYS ONE STEP AHEAD

Initially hired at the end of the 1980s, Dube quickly rose through the ranks at Waterville TG and was eventually trusted with the audacious mission of creating a sales office in the heart of Detroit, Michigan. 

After seizing the opportunity to relocate to Belgium to work for TG Europe, before moving back a few years later to gain experience as a Sales Manager for other companies in Quebec, Dube returned to Waterville TG in 2022 as the General Manager of Business Strategies. 

“Having grown from my experience as Product Line Director at Michelin, my strategic vision, leadership, and passion for sustainable development are undoubtedly assets that will ensure the future of Waterville TG,” he enthuses. 

One of the investments the company highlighted previously was its push towards automation, specifically its heavy investment in manufacturing robotics with the goal of increasing automation by 2030 in order to remain competitive. 

“We are continuing our efforts towards process automation. We’ve invested in manufacturing robotization over the past few years to improve our process from an ergonomic standpoint while improving our global standing,” insights Dube. 

Since 2023, Waterville TG has been delivering parts from automated processes to its customers. The company has faced some challenges due to the nature of its parts being soft; despite this, it managed to retain strong support from clients during this transition as they understand the long-term benefits of automated production. 

“We have even served as a good example of a business case for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) by ensuring the safe launch of production during the technological transition,” furthers Dube. 

In addition to advancing automation, Waterville TG has also continued to accentuate its focus on supporting battery electric vehicle (BEV) customers in a disruptive industry environment.  

As analysts are describing the uptake of BEVs as ‘cooling’, with less demand from customers and a slower adoption rate, the company has observed reduced vehicle output, a slow down in the BEV product cycle plan, and a hold on investments. 

“As a supplier, we are closely monitoring the variation in volume forecasts and customer cycle plans, and subsequently aligning our product portfolio to the market.”

LEADER IN TAILOR-MADE SOLUTIONS

With natural disasters occurring at a rapidly increasing rate due to the effects of climate change, automakers recognize the socioeconomic impacts of these events and therefore quickly shifting to zero-emission vehicles such as BEVs and fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). 

Waterville TG is a frontrunner in these global efforts, working to combat the large amounts of CO2 emitted over the lifecycle of automotive products. 

“Previously, we mentioned that we had adopted the philosophy of a circular economy, and carbon neutrality is a part of this global initiative,” insights Dube.   

“We were already closely tracking the carbon emissions of our activities and reporting in Manufacture 2030, a platform that works to empower manufacturers and suppliers to cut emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030, which our customers can access to achieve their carbon neutrality goals.” 

Progressing these targets even further, the company became carbon neutral for its direct operations in 2023, alongside the energy it purchases for its Quebec and Ontario sites.  

Its mid-term vision includes contributing to local projects to offset its emissions and investing in infrastructure to continue to reduce emissions at the source. 

“Our long-term goal, meanwhile, is to ensure full carbon neutrality across our entire value chain, including suppliers, customers, and the use of our products, which is an enormous challenge for any company with sustainability objectives,” details Dube. 

In addition to Waterville TG’s carbon neutrality goals, it has also introduced a new automated ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM) molding process for opening trim weatherseals, a world first. 

This innovative leap marks a significant milestone in manufacturing, revolutionizing the way weatherseals are produced by using a fully automated robotic cell. 

“Traditionally, weatherseal production has been a labor-intensive and time-consuming process, often prone to human error, efficiency, and variability,” informs Dube. 

“However, with the implementation of an automated molding process, we have effectively streamlined production operations, minimizing manual intervention while maximizing output consistency.” 

This adoption of new, industry-shaping technology underscores Waterville TG’s commitment to innovation and excellence in the automotive sector that will redefine the manufacturing landscape for years to come. 

“For us, social responsibility is the positive impact our company can have on preserving the environment, creating pleasant workspaces, and building communities people want to live in”

Sylvain Dube, General Manager of Business Strategies, Waterville TG

AN ACTIVE COMMUNITY PLAYER

In an effort to reduce waste and minimize the company’s environmental footprint further, Waterville TG is working towards reusing reclaimed EPDM in compound mixing. 

“We have a new mantra of ‘cradle to cradle’ instead of the typical ‘cradle to grave’, meaning that the end goal is to revalorize products by reintroducing them inside new production,” expands Dube. 

There are some challenges to this new venture, including the reclaiming process itself, designing the product with reuse in mind, and collecting material following the usage. 

However, despite these obstacles, the company’s intent is to increase the ratio of recycled material inside new batches of rubber while still keeping the same physical properties compared to a ‘virgin’ recipe. 

“Additionally, since 2007, we have been an active member on the Board of Directors of Foundation Estrienne en Environnement, which promotes environmental protection and sustainable development in the Eastern Townships region,” asserts Dube. 

In parallel to furthering environmental sustainability, being a respectful corporate citizen is a priority for the company as it sincerely believes in local community involvement. 

Waterville TG plans to continue to support local organizations such as Centraide Estrie by taking part in its awareness campaign every year, along with making donations – both financially and materially – to organizations and institutes, including École de la Passerelle, Bishop’s University, Course Unis Pour la Cause, Collège François-De La Place, École des Enfants-de-la-Terre, and Équipe Élite alpin de l’Estrie. 

As the company looks ahead, it envisions a future where Waterville TG continues improving its efficiency, quality, and agility. 

“Ultimately, I seek to empower my team to identify and address inefficiencies, cultivate a mindset of continuous improvement, and drive sustainable growth and innovation,” concludes Dube. 

The company has proven over its 72-year history why it has been chosen by the biggest names in the global automotive industry to develop and manufacture their sealing systems, regardless of the type of vehicle.  

As Waterville TG continues to provide tailor-made sealing systems that exceed even the highest customer demands, its future promises further innovation, growth, and international recognition.

WATERVILLE TG PARTNER

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REPUBLISHED ON:Manufacturing Outlook
PUBLISHED BY:Outlook Publishing
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By Michael Sommerfield Project Manager
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Michael Sommerfield is a Project Manager for Outlook Publishing. Michael is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Michael is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Michael to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.
By Kieron Harvey Project Manager
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Kieron Harvey is a Project Manager for Outlook Publishing. Kieron is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Kieron is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Kieron to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.
By Lauren Kania Junior Editor
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Jack Salter is an in-house writer for North America Outlook Magazine, where he is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.