Zircoa – A Corporate Model for “Veterans Opportunity to Work” (Vow) To Hire Heros Act Of 2011

Zircoa’s family of products
Examples of typical Zircoa advanced zirconia ceramic products

Zircoa, Inc, Solon, Ohio, founded in 1952, engineers and manufactures a range of zirconium oxide and other advanced ceramic materials for virtually all industries. Zircoa’s products and materials always meet the most demanding and critical performance criteria. This business model continues today while introducing new materials and technologies to meet the growth of new markets like crystal growth, environmental controls and very high temperature processing.

In addition to this emphasis on research and development of new products and processes, Zircoa focuses on the hiring of veterans as a way to help the United States, while utilizing the special skills and attitudes that the veterans bring to the company. Zircoa is taking advantage of recently passed Federal legislation: “Veterans Opportunity To Work (VOW) To Hire Heroes Act of 2011”.

In recognition of their success with the VOW program and their commitment to hiring vets, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a co-sponsor of the Act, visited the facility in August, 2012 to recognize Zircoa for its outstanding efforts. Senator Brown noted that fully 20% of the Zircoa workforce is made up of veterans (23 vets) and the company expects to hire more veterans in the next few months.

Senator Sherrod (right) Brown discusses Zircoa’s “Hire The Vet” campaign with President Ronne Proch (left)
Senator Sherrod (right) Brown discusses Zircoa’s “Hire The Vet” campaign with President Ronne Proch (left)

Zircoa’s Plant Manager, Jason Haffner describes the benefits of the company’s  veteran’s policy: “Being a disabled veteran myself, I know what to expect from someone who has served in the armed forces and am confident that the skills that are taught in the military will transition well into the business world. The majority of the veterans we have hired recently are front line supervisors.”

Zircoa’s President and CEO, Ronne Proch states: “Zircoa is proof of concept of the worthiness of VOW, not only for our veteran’s sacrifices in the military, for us all, but also as proving themselves as outstanding members of Zircoa’s team. Respect and discipline are the two greatest qualities enhanced by their military experience. They are the foundation to effective team work. As a class, veterans have that as an edge over other candidate workers. It best satisfies Zircoa’s culture of hiring based on aptitude and attitude.”

The VOW Act provides tax credits to the employer and encourages employers  including Zircoa to hire veterans by providing employment and training services for older veterans, while creating a simple, free link for employers to locate the highly qualified workforce represented by the current and older generations of veterans.

Zircoa’s Technology

Unlike other ceramic companies, Zircoa produces its own Zirconium Oxide from raw minerals. The company has a comprehensive understanding of zirconia and its use in the production of: other ceramics and refractories, electronics, sensors, high temperature insulation, electronic ceramics, wear resistant products, crystal growth and zirconium metal production. Zircoa products are classified as Specialty Refractories, Technical Ceramics or Granular Products.

Veteran Eric Nelson Taking Readings on a Horizontal Milling Machine in the Fine Bead Process
Veteran Eric Nelson Taking Readings on a Horizontal Milling Machine in the Fine Bead Process

Zircoa’s Initiatives

Zircoa’s veteran led staff is producing world class refractories, crucibles, processing components and other high temperature materials for thermal, mechanical, wear and structural applications. To continue its growth and compete internationally Zircoa invests very heavily in R & D and market development.

Examples of new Zircoa Products & Market Development:

New Zircoa NOx Sensor System Demonstrating Rapid Response with Extreme Sensitivity
New Zircoa NOx Sensor System Demonstrating Rapid Response with Extreme Sensitivity

  1. NOx Emission Control – Zircoa’s breakthrough solution for NOx emission control: new electronics and data processing algorithms, developed by Zircoa, allow utilization of commercial lambda sensors for precision NOx emission measurement that could help to significantly reduce air pollution from internal combustion engines at no additional cost to engine manufacturers. With the potential for commercial readiness in 18 months, this product would mean even more local jobs for veterans.
  2. Simplified Production Size Zircoa Refractory Liner Design for 2200°C Operation with Zirconium Oxide Inner Liner and Specialized Aluminum Oxide Backing Materials.
    Simplified Production Size Zircoa Refractory Liner Design for 2200°C Operation with Zirconium Oxide Inner Liner and Specialized Aluminum Oxide Backing Materials.

  3. Cost Effective Improvement of Carbon Black Process Yields – Zircoa’s solution to temperature limitations in carbon black reactors using specialty refractories that regularly reach 2100°C and higher, yet permit control of reactor shell temperatures to under 600 F. Demand for high process yield due to high oil prices drives the need for higher temperature and the solution Zircoa offers.  This demand will further increase the requirements to hire more skilled personnel for production and supervision.
  4. Zircoa GmbH – To better serve its European customer base and provide a beachhead to the BRIC countries, Zircoa has formed Zircoa GmbH in Wiesbaden, Germany. This sales office (formerly an arm of RHI, GmbH) will maintain its former personnel, and products and client base. The new operation will not only sell existing Zircoa products, but is seeking collaboration with other materials companies whose products are complimentary to Zircoa’s line.

For further information about Zircoa’s products, its veteran’s initiative, or employment opportunities please contact: Tim Leitzel, Sales and Marketing Manager, 440-349-7216, Tleitzel@zircoa.com. For company information please visit: www.zircoa.com.

About the author: Bud Cass is the former president and Chairman of Advanced Cerametrics, Inc, and is currently Managing Member of Bud Cass Consulting, LLC. Contact: rbudcass@aol.com.