OSI Builds Innovation Hub in Northeast Ohio

OSI’s brand new Application Center brings together building science knowledge, innovation and product development, and testing and manufacturing in one facility. OSI's Product Application Specialist John DeGirolamo outlines how the Application Center came to be. And how it can help building products professionals.

What is the Application Center?
It’s a knowledge resource, an innovation hub and a learning center. Under one roof there’s a hands-on application area, a Product Development lab, a testing area and a manufacturing plant. We have a 65-foot long application wall that’s the facade of a house showing all the different materials that go into different installations. We actually manufacture the SMP (Silane Modified Polymer) used in OSI sealants and construction adhesives right in the same facility. So you can design, make, test, revise and manufacture in one facility.

How did it come about? What inspired OSI to do this?
Years ago, we started working on an innovation center, but the vision evolved as we planned. Even as we built it, we left ourselves open to how it might be used. Actually, it’s kind of designed to evolve as the industry changes and new science and new challenges emerge.

How long did it take to bring to life? What were the challenges?
With projects like this, where the vision evolves, the planning takes time as you consider what it could be and how it might be used. At some point, you just make a decision and go. The buildout happens pretty quickly. The application wall itself took about three weeks. It was pretty hard because we were actually trying to leave the materials and substrates exposed, which isn’t how we would normally work.

Why should building products professionals be excited about this?
With the product landscape and performance demands always changing, building pros who really care about doing a better job can have a tough time staying ahead, and that’s where the Application Center can help. It’s a great opportunity for them to bring their product in, collaborate on install techniques, test products for performance and recommend improvements in installation. If you’re running a company and can get that learning for free, why wouldn’t you? You don’t have to invest as much in R&D. You can train your employees, who learn how to do a better job with fewer callbacks. Homeowners get better work with better outcomes. Retailers and wholesalers get to move more products. It’s really a win for everybody.

What do you think Mother Nature feels about the Application Center?
Well, she’s the one person it’s not so good for. The more we help people learn how to make building envelopes tougher than the elements, the harder her job gets. So she’s not too happy.

What’s next? What can people expect?
They can expect that every time they come back here, it will be a whole different experience. We will constantly evolve as consumer demands and building professionals and ideas on construction evolve. So you’ll be able to come back and be surprised all over again.