Supporting the Environment on Earth Day 2018 and Beyond!

Earth Day 2018 is just around the corner on April 22nd. This annual event led by the Earth Day Network (EDN), dedicates itself to recognizing and celebrating the natural environment. With a focus on the protection of our precious planet, this event spans worldwide as the biggest civic-focused day of action. This year marks the start of EDN’s multiyear campaign called End Plastic Pollution.

Why and How Is Single-Use Plastic Problematic?

Single-use or disposable plastic refers to objects typically used only once, such as water bottles, bags, packages, and straws. These types of items risk the Earth’s ecosystems as over 8 million tons of plastic are tossed into oceans every year.

While plastic is a useful resource, it is unnecessarily wasted in everyday applications such as those cited above. Not only can plastic in our food alter human hormones, but it can also choke natural habitats, poison wildlife that find it, and more. These are big reasons why this year’s EDN platform is to regulate plastic pollution, as well as informing and educating people, governments, and companies worldwide about how to control and improve plastic pollution.

Recycling Responsibilities as Manufacturers

Making the most of recycling efforts involves manufacturers worldwide committing to using more green materials, as well as designing and producing more recyclable products and packages. We wholeheartedly believe in reusable resources and sustainability. This outlook is one our company as a whole share – both employers and employees alike. For example, we recycle all materials used, such as cardboard packaging, the rubber in our moldings, and excess manufactured goods.

Reusing Plastics and Contributions to EVs

UP&R uses reusable plastics to manufacture dependable extruded parts. Reusing plastics extends their lifespan, without compromising quality. We also use sustainable packaging. Our parts come in returnable and reusable plastic packaging to reduce product waste, energy, and resource consumption.

Lastly, we craft non-conducive rubber for many all-electric vehicles. EVs are a major eco-environmentally sustainable effort that aligns with Earth Day initiatives as they have no direct emissions. They have a well-to-wheel emissions advantage over conventional autos running on gas or diesel, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Caring for the Earth and Our Customers

Universal Polymer & Rubber takes pride in not adding extra waste to the environment. We care for the Earth not only on April 22 but the 364 other days of the year too. Customer service is also integral to our company and has been key to our operations since we began in 1970. Our product lineup includes durable compression moldings, injection moldings, and transfer moldings, all made with sustainability in mind and your unique needs taken to heart. Contact us today for your next project.

Also, learn more about manufacturing advancements by following our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Tariffs Impact Small and Mid-Size Businesses in the U.S.

In recent weeks there has been much talk about President Trump putting tariffs on a wide range of products. Initially, there are two industries that will be greatly impacted: steel and aluminum.

Inflation could soon be hitting raw materials which will impact packaging, transportation, cargo, the supply chain, automotive OE supply chain, and general manufacturing. Rising prices will greatly impact Japanese automakers, but on the home front, small and mid-size manufacturing companies may see the biggest challenges moving forward, as they have less room in their budget for losses.

Consumers are likely to resist the cost increases that companies will be charging. Many millennials who haven’t seen increases like this may been surprised by how quickly things are changing. This type of tidal wave can disrupt all aspects of business and at each level of the supply chain. These changes need to be addressed with small and mid-size businesses before the impact is too great to bounce back from.

As a leader in custom manufacturing for polymers, rubber, and molding, Universal Polymer thinks small and mid-size manufacturing and mom and pop shops need to be prepared themselves for the changing trade climate. Finding ways to counteract the tariffs is imperative to stay alive in today’s market as other countries fight back against these policies.

Universal Polymer & Rubber is a leading manufacturer of rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions and rubber moldings including compression moldings, transfer moldings, and injection moldings. To stay up to date on issues affecting manufacturing and to learn more about us, we invite you to read our blog, follow us on Twitter, connect with us on LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook. To learn more about how we can help you with the right product for your project, we invite you to contact us today.

AMERIPRIDE Tarp Straps Offer Sturdy Shipping Solutions

Made in the USA (Middlefield, Ohio), the latest line of tarp straps from Universal Polymer is AMERIPRIDE. Members of the trucking industry know that cargo needs to be securely fastened for successful transportation. Not only does cargo need to be transported safely, but it also needs to be protected from the elements it endures in getting to the end destination. This is where tarps and tarp straps come into play.

Tarp Strap Construction

Within the industry, tarp straps are available and manufactured in a number of solutions, including synthetic rubber and natural rubber, as well as with various hook selections to fasten the straps. The AMERIPRIDE line boasts a reliable rubber construction to face the elements while holding down your tarps. The EPDM rubber (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a synthetic rubber that provides UV and Ozone resistance.

These UV-resistant AMERIPRIDE straps are then secured using S hooks that are manufactured in-house from wire coils, making the entire product Ohio and American-made.

Constructed to withstand multiple climates, these rubber tarp straps work well in the trucking, recreational vehicle, transportation and marine industries. These new tarp straps from Universal Polymer are found in a variety of sizes as noted below.

AMERIPRIDE Tarp Strap Sizes:

  • 10 inches
  • 15 inches
  • 21 inches
  • 31 inches
  • 41 inches

At 50 pieces to a box, these EPDM rubber tarp straps offer a reliable solution for your tie-down needs, whether it’s for trucking or another industry. For more information on our latest line of AMERIPRIDE straps, contact us today!

If you’re looking for another tarp strap solution, also check out our GOLDLINE tarp straps offering different designs per your needs.

For continuous information on the transportation, cargo, construction, pipe manufacturing, automotive, and industrial markets continue to follow and connect with us our blogTwitter and LinkedIn.

Learning & Evolution Continues in Manufacturing with Industry Trade Shows

Manufacturing at its Strongest Since 2004

The long-promised acceleration in US manufacturing may be just around the corner.

2017 closed strong. In fact, the numbers peg it as a favorable year of the likes of 2004 when the depredations of recession hadn’t tarnished profits.

With the morale running high, it is a golden time for all providers to grow, evolve and get equipped for the spike in demand that may follow soon.

And what better way to learn, network and be seen than at some of the most popular, progressive and authoritative trade shows in the country?

Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. Is on the Road

February and March will see us rubbing shoulders with manufacturing luminaries – sharing insights, presenting innovations and probing areas that rubber and plastic moldings and custom extrusions fall short in.

These occasions always spark fresh activity at Universal Polymer & Rubber as we return to the drawing board to brainstorm and improve industry solutions.

This year will be no different.

We are looking to not only foster relationships but also a deeper understanding of what we can do to serve client industries that much more efficiently.

The first stop is the Precast Show, held over February 22nd & 24th at the Colorado Convention Center. It is an endeavor by the Precast Organization to bring together contributors and stakeholders who regulate and disrupt this key market. Precast and rubber may seem to belong to different worlds, but the strength of the former often relies on the flexibility of the latter as rubber is the sealing element of choice that maintains the integrity of complex precast structures.

We will be at booth 521, ready to engage with precast aficionados.

Next,  from March 22nd to 24th we’ll be at the Kentucky Exposition Centre participating in the largest annual heavy-duty trucking event in the world – The Mid America Trucking Show.  The perception of trucking has transformed rapidly over the past decade and it is in part to shows like the MATS where educational seminars and live product demonstrations infuse the raw power of trucks with the cutting edge technological strides made in the fields of AI & Big Data.

The outlook for truck sales is optimistic for the next several years and we look to be right in the middle of the upsurge.

Finally, the American Concrete Pipe Association (ACPA) Annual Convention will be happening in San Diego over March 24th through 27th. We look forward to learning more about the technological improvements driving the industry.

 

Stay in Touch

If you’re like us and want to stay abreast of breakthroughs in the world of manufacturing, follow us on the blog, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Or you can contact us for a custom quote.

Confidence in Manufacturing Predicted for 2018

After the recession of 2008, it has taken time for our country to rebound. The rebound started slowly but has gained momentum and industries across the U.S. are beginning to see quite a change. For many, optimism is high. Helping the change is the new administration and the President’s commitment to supposedly bring jobs back to America. He has started deregulation of manufacturing industries and has promised to lower business taxes in an effort to make the U.S. more competitive with jobs that were off-shored long ago.

Consumer confidence has spurred the economy, allowing businesses to once again invest in new software, new equipment, training and industrial structures. All of these investments help to better our economy. Industries are also more expectant due to the increase in employment rates and increase in disposable income.

According to a report by Bloomberg Markets, the U.S. is experiencing growth at a rate higher than what was forecasted. Currently, the rate is three percent, which is a solid gain. This rate is high considering the time period reported on includes two devastating hurricanes in two parts of our country. All of this information leads to an encouraging outlook for the coming years for manufacturing.

A wide range of industries are seeing this growth, including rubber, the housing industry coming off all- time lows of 2009, mining, aerospace, and more. This past September, the Institute for Supply Management hit an all-time high mark for gauging manufacturing activity. The last time numbers were this close was in 2004.

As a custom manufacturer of rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions and rubber moldings including compression moldings, transfer moldings, and injection moldings, all of this information leaves the Universal Polymer team enthused about the potentials for 2018. We serve many industries, including the transportation and cargo control market, automotive OE supply chain as a Tier II and Tier III, construction and pipe manufacturers market, and the general industrial market.

To keep abreast of what’s new in our industry, we invite you to read our blog, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and connect with us on LinkedIn. To speak to one of our professionals about how we can help you, we invite you to contact us today.

What’s in Store for the US Rubber Market? A Must-Read Overview

No Market Stands Alone:

When the demand for one rises or falls – the other is impacted, either directly or indirectly. The debacle of 2007 and 2008 brought the economy to a screeching halt and rubber product manufacturers all over the country felt the pinch.

But now cautious optimism is in the air. The Dow Jones has shown promising signs since August 2017. Even though small and medium businesses are uncertain about reaping the expected rewards with the administration change – the morale of the country is up.

It’s estimated that the US will see rubber revenue stretch to touch the 20 billion dollar mark before the year is up.

Automobile, Construction, Supply Chain & More:

Custom rubber parts and extrusions are indispensable.

The automobile industry has grown at a telling rate and it alone is set to consume about $28.6 million worth of transfer coating rubber coated fabrics. Despite the widespread penetration of foreign tire brands, U.S. based businesses are still holding on to the lion’s share of the dollars pie. These two factors will work synergistically to boost rubber demand in the very near future.

Construction and housing also happen to be large and thriving rubber markets. Vendors and workers in the sector are looking forward to 2018 because the running year has seen a record number of building permits fly from the local municipality offices. This can only mean one thing –  large hauls of channels, connectors, display components, door gaskets, door seals, edgings, face plates, finned tubes, furniture parts, gaskets, insulation, sealants, seals, spliced gaskets, signs, toy parts, tubes and tubing delivered to the chugging housing engine.

Supply chain & transportation do not lag far behind. Their cumulative share is an impressive 8% of the GDP and providers in this market look to rubber manufacturers for component parts, tie downs, and durable tarps.

Serving Beyond Expectations:

Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. operates from a place of integrity. We have strategically expanded our production capacity and our ability to fulfil custom design demands with an eye to this inevitable surge in the rubber industry.

We are already positioned – both in terms of reputation and equipment sophistication – to be a reliable partner to vendors who will soon need to order larger shipments of rubber molding and extrusion items than ever before.

To keep up with the changes and to ride the surf when the wave finally arrives, please follow us on Twitter & LinkedIn.

You can also request quotes here.

Manufacturing in America: Universal Polymer & Rubber

What is the state of manufacturing in America? This question has been on our minds for some time now, and after reading articles and reports on the subject, we decided to take a closer look by talking to some of the men and women on the front lines of the industry. The following interview with John Zielinski, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Universal Polymer & Rubber, is the first in our “Manufacturing in America” series. The goal of this series is to highlight some of the manufacturing challenges and triumphs that are occurring right here in our backyards.

For context, Universal Polymer & Rubber is a privately-held company that was started in Middlefield, Ohio in 1970. Universal Polymer manufactures rubber molded parts, rubber extruded parts, and plastic extruded parts, and supplies them to a range of industries around the world. We sat down with John last month to talk about the past, present, and future of Universal Polymer. Here’s what we learned.

To start things off, can you tell me a little bit about who you are and how you got to be where you are today?

Sure. I’ve always been in manufacturing. I’ve been in a number of different industries: on the metal side of things, metal stamping, the foundry business, forging, and part fabrication. I actually ran a company that made wheels and mounted tires for off-road applications as well as trailer applications. Then, in the late 90s, early 2000s, I got into the rubber side of business, ran a compounder, and actually had my own business as an independent rep, and then in 2005, Universal was one of my principals, and their president came to me and asked me to take over their sales. We did that in 2005, and in the last 12 years, we’ve tripled our sales, both organically and through acquisitions.

That’s incredible growth! I saw your recent acquisition of Crest on your website—congrats to you.

Thank you.

When it comes to Universal Polymer, you’re definitely on an upswing. I’m trying to reconcile this happy success story with some of what I was reading. This Economist article from the other day talks about a shortage of skilled workers. Is Universal Polymer facing any challenges in that department?

Yes we are. We face the same challenges at various levels as some of the companies probably cited in The Economist. Some of our skilled and experienced workers are rubber extrusion operators, press operators, and even in general labor, there’s a shortage of workers because there are so many jobs open. Our press room, for example, is hard work, and it can get very warm in the summer. People who are looking for a cushy position or an easy job simply don’t last in that environment. There’s definitely a shortage of labor. We’re a group of six manufacturing companies, part of the Cypress Companies, and every company within Cypress is hurting for good people to fill in positions.

Is Universal Polymer embracing automation, or have things pretty much stayed the same in recent years?

We’re getting more automation, but we are far from an automated factory. For instance, we’re going more and more into injection, more automated presses, if you will, faster presses. But the rubber industry itself—it’s a big concentration around northeast Ohio—tends to be full of owner/operators who will often patch up equipment to get by. That’s how it’s always been, and these are the companies we tend to acquire. So what I’m saying is that we’re in a very mature industry, and there’s not as much automation. But in the last three years, we’ve added more of what I would call modern equipment and we have plans over the next five years to add further.

Right now, we’re looking for a visual inspection machine, which will rapidly speed up our visual inspection process (this is something that humans currently do). It’s a tedious and costly process, but some parts we make have to be looked at for excess flash or certain defects, and it’s a visual inspection. We’re looking to bring on a visual machine, which will be a nice investment.

It seems to me like today’s manufacturers understand the need to embrace innovation. Can you provide an example of an innovative solution that your company has devised in order to solve a common industry problem?

Absolutely. This past summer we launched a new mobile unit initiative as a way to better serve our customers. Basically, we designed a specially-equipped trailer that we could take on the road to provide on-the-spot hydrostatic testing and modification to customers who have purchased our pipe and manhole products. That’s an example of innovation in action, and it also shows our commitment to customer satisfaction.

That’s excellent. How would you say American manufacturing today stacks up against all the global competitors?

I would say American manufacturers are number one. When I say that, we’re talking the entire package you get for dealing with an American manufacturer. Obviously, when it comes to labor-intensive parts that are lesser engineered, we can’t really compete with the cheaper labor forces that other countries offer. So if it’s a lesser engineered commodity-type part, the American company probably won’t get the business. But for everything we offer, from sales and marketing through engineering support, through program management, to a willingness to get involved with your customers’ business as a supplier, I would say American manufacturers are the best.

Help Celebrate National Manufacturing Day Friday, October 6th!

National Manufacturing Day (NMD) is an annual day of recognition for the modern manufacturing industry. Established to highlight companies in the manufacturing sector and their many accomplishments, it is also designed to inspire and help secure the next generation of American industrial creators. Those firms interested in participating may register on the official site. Once listed, individual events can be marked as public or invitation-only.

NMD initiatives include the promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects, bridging the skills gap and reshoring of industry back to the U.S.

On Friday, Oct 6, 2017, NMD will highlight more than 2,000 American manufacturers, with many opening their doors to the public to showcase this vital sector of our economy and inspire America’s youth to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. Manufacturers like UP&R understand how essential it is to motivate millennials to graduate in science, technology, engineering, and math, as these graduates hold the key to future American production and innovation. Industries’ goals are to help ensure that the manufacturing industry in America will continue to not only survive, but thrive.

A couple of proudly made-in-the-USA examples from UP&R’s product line are Goldline and AMERIPRIDE Tarp Straps. These straps are used by truckers to keep their tarps securely tied down and their cargo safe from weather or any other environmental hazards.

Based in Middlefield, Ohio, our company got our start in 1970 and has been in continuous operation as a premiere custom manufacturer of rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions and rubber moldings including compression moldings, transfer moldings and injection moldings that meet the needs of our many valued customers. In celebrating this day, we not only acknowledge our contributions but those of all our partners in industry.

Remember to read our informative blogs and to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date. Should you be interested in our many products or services, feel free to contact us directly by calling (440) 632-1691 or by requesting a quote.

Happy National Manufacturing Day 2017 from Universal Polymer & Rubber! And remember to support initiatives like STEM education, bridging the skills gap, and reshoring year round!

 

Small Manufacturing Updates Under the New Administration

With every presidential election comes change, and with a new administration in office both large and small business’ have been feeling the effects. The U.S. stock market saw a jolt of activity that hasn’t been seen since 2014. In August 2017 the Dow Jones set record highs, hitting an intraday peak of 22,179.11 on August 8th. Although the outlook seems optimistic, some of the numbers aren’t playing out as expected.

Although the Dow Jones is up, this is the first time numbers have been down in the manufacturing industry in a couple of years. As of July 2017, the monthly automotive light vehicle production in North America was off by about 13%. That’s a steep drop in an industry that has seen monthly increases (year on year) for two to three years. Here at Universal Polymer & Rubber, we understand how all industries can affect each other. For example, the housing industry has been flat and is down from just one year ago. All manufacturing companies that produce supplies for the housing industry will, in turn, feel the impact of the stagnant market. Although the outlook was good and indicators like the Dow Jones are up, small and medium sized manufacturing companies haven’t seen those positive effects.

What’s even more concerning is that the American manufacturing base sees more chaos than order. Take for example the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  40% of our automotive business, and a large percentage of original equipment parts and systems, comes from Mexico and Canada. A change of border control and / or a tariff will change the expectancy and function of our business and the millions of businesses like ours. It will also send cost models out of the window, in an industry that is extremely cost conscious, that negotiates over pennies as if life itself depended on it.

President-elect Donald Trump has also campaigned on getting rid of NAFTA, feeling America is getting the short end of the stick. Now, President Trump is in negotiations to better the deal for the U.S., although many don’t think Canada or Mexico will buy into much change, as it would hurt their own countries too.

Mexico may well consider President Trump’s dedication to building a wall between the two countries as counter-productive to their goals. So whether or not NAFTA survives is anyone’s guess at this point. Many small manufacturers are struggling with the uncertainty of the future and what it holds, and uncertainty is never good for manufacturers. Here at Universal Polymer & Rubber, we will continue to manufacture rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions and rubber moldings including compression moldings, transfer moldings and injection moldings for our customers, while we stay abreast of what’s impacting our industry.

To learn more, we invite you to read our blog, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and connect with us on LinkedIn. To learn more about how Universal Polymer & Rubber can help you, we invite you to contact us today.

 

5 Ways to Run a Thriving Manufacturing Company: Lessons from an American Success Story

For almost half a century Universal Polymer and Rubber has been a market leader in the domain of rubber and plastic extrusions and custom created products. During that time the business has placed a great emphasis on client satisfaction and in 2017, when most production units in Ohio are struggling to stay afloat, we have not only managed to expand our operations but have also been recognized as a “Made in USA” success story by the renowned publication Construction in Focus.

5 Golden Rules from Those Who Have Braved It All: 

Manufacturing may be the lifeblood of the nation, but that doesn’t render businesses in the industry immune to the cycles of supply and demand.

There are challenges to be circumvented. And brands that can’t establish themselves as purveyors of quality items falter and fail.

Companies that set themselves apart from the competition do so on the dint of hard work, a desire to learn and evolve an insightful understanding of industry dynamics.

 

 

Here are 5 hard won lessons from the veterans at Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. to help you ace running a manufacturing company: 

1. Be Practical and Rooted in Facts: It is easy to get carried away by the avalanche of rumors and fallacies saturating the industry grapevine. Hyperventilating over a future scenario that may or may not transpire isn’t the best use of time or resources. Projections, estimates and market predictions are handy tools to have, but only when they resonate with the take and understanding of your company and client base. Instead of chasing “what ifs,” manufacturing businesses must address known issues like the growing skill gap in the industry and the dwindling interest in core manufacturing as a career choice for graduates with well thought out, strategic actions like participation in and promotion of Manufacturing Day.

2. Be Discerning when it Comes to Staffing: Talent shouldn’t be hoarded – even in manufacturing where there is a real absence of qualified candidates. Benched employees lose their finesses and also suffer from disengagement. They negatively impact the morale of the rest of the workforce. However, rapid expansion is a possibility given the trend of reshoring over the years. A fine balance between staffing and the business level is required. It is the worth the investment to create a pipeline of “just in time” recruitment possibilities to ensure the best utilization of labor.

3. Understand that Acquisitions Take Time to Produce Results: Acquiring assets is a great way to rapidly increase sales. How?

          A. The acquired assets transfer their goodwill and clients to the parent company.

          B. The acquired assets may possess complementary skills that help companies penetrate a whole new market full of possibilities.

Universal Polymer & Rubber has made multiple acquisitions and learnt from each undertaking. The most important take-away is the fact that all good things need time to mature. Acquisitions are no different. They have to be assimilated and worked on before they can positively influence bottom-line numbers.

4. Pay Attention to Details: Manufacturing is a highly competitive industry. Maintaining a legacy of quality is essential. To this effect companies must constantly improve following the principles of Kaizen. Certifications like ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 16949 offer benchmarks of excellence and provide guidelines that reduce waste, bring down defects and boost customer satisfaction.

5. Balance Long Term & Short-Term Goals: While it is great to have a 50,000-foot view of the business operations, it’s the day-to-day activities and meticulousness in executing them which keep a company strong and profitable. A game changing business not only stays abreast of latest technological breakthroughs, it incorporates the insights in everyday activities for tangible results.

Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. has lived by each these five lessons and the results are evident.

If you want to learn more about succeeding in manufacturing, follow our blog and our LinkedIn and Twitter pages.

Need a custom quote? Contact us today.

 

Custom Manufacturer of Rubber Extrusions, Plastic Extrusions and Rubber MoldingsIncluding compression moldings, transfer moldings and injection moldings