Universal Polymer & Rubber: Examining our Acquisition Strategy

Who Did We Recently Acquire?

UP&R is proud to announce that we have just completed our fifth overall acquisition, and third in the last four years. Our continuous acquisition strategy has cemented our position as one of the largest non-mixing polymer fabricators in the United States. At UPR, we are always actively looking for additional polymer parts manufacturers that fit our perpetual approach.

Who did we acquire this time? Gasko Fabricated Products of Medina, OH! Gasko is a high-volume, die-cutting converter of polymer and hybrid materials for gaskets, seals, and diaphragms. Such modules are used for power take-off and transmission, and engine management/fuel delivery system applications in the automotive, marine, and outdoor power equipment markets.

Over time, the Medina facility will transition to our Tallmadge, OH facility, attaining synergies, economies, and shared die-cut expertise.

John Zielinski, our Executive Vice President, commented, “Customers and prospects have been asking for a wider variety in our converting, and through this acquisition, we will now be able to provide for the market’s need.”

What Sets Us Apart from the Competition

 With about two handfuls of competitors within a 50-mile radius, we unremittingly set our self apart from the many other polymer companies in Northeast Ohio. Acquisition numbers from our wide-range of capabilities allow us to achieve a high-level stature. Our competitors include other rubber molders who tackle tarp straps, but similar manufacturers have limited capabilities that lead to our success as a business. At UPR, we have four different types of tarp straps including our own brands, and multiple layers to each brand.

Through our assortment of brands comes a fluctuation in price point too. Businesses, both small and large, will be able to find an answer that fits their needs.

Additional competitors include extrusion and molding, but the competition only supports one focal point – either, or – not both. Here, at Universal Polymer, we have the support to focus on rubber molding, rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions, tarp straps and gaskets, because of the diversity of our qualified, in-house, team experts. We are a one-stop-shop for all of your polymer solutions for the transportation and cargo control market, construction and pipe manufacturers market, automotive OE supply chain as a Tier II and Tier III, and the general industrial market that comprises several well-known global manufacturers.

Our one-stop-shop doesn’t only serve the end product of a tarp strap, a pipe gasket, window gasket, tire or more. When we say everything is done in-house, we mean it. From die-cutting to fabrication, both your polymers and rubbers start and end with us. UPR beats out the multiple stops that you would have to take to buy extrusions from one manufacturer and your required molded parts from another.

As a robust and elite manufacturer, there’s no worry, no wasted downtime, no hassle. All of our different parts are preplanned, engineered, designed, and already taken care of with you in mind. Every piece you need already fits perfectly together. With UP&R, you get all of the aspects of a small business manufacturer with the quality of a big manufacturer, meaning all of your bases–quality AND quantity, are covered “under one roof.”

With the Gasko acquisition, we continue to supply and have increased supplies for the automotive, marine, and outdoor power equipment industries, plus further industrial markets too.

Immediate customer-facing benefits include:

  • Both locations, Medina and Tallmadge, have historically specialized in fast turn-around, high-mix, high volume production, making them highly complementary. Plans include the move of Medina’s manufacturing into our Tallmadge location, an IATF-16949 and ISO-9001 certified production facility.
  • A Stronger Product Line for Customers – The Gasko product line, when added to our already broad product line, will enhance the total basket of goods that UP&R offers to our current customer base, and further, to market.
  • Enhanced Capabilities – While UP&R and Gasko have shared similar historical focus’, each excels in specific, but complementary areas. We look to offer Gasko customers a more full range of offerings – molded and extruded rubber parts, and die-cut parts, from IATF16949 certified facilities – that will provide vendor consolidation opportunities in a lean manufacturing world.

Our Ideology at UP&R

Because we put continuous improvement into our day-to-day, we get better each day. Started in 1970, we have continuously operated since inception. In 2018, our staff is proud to say that we are wiser today then we were just yesterday. And with additional resources now onboard, we’ll be able to continue forward with our successful business model.

Today, UPR stands ready to help your company compete and grow. At UP&R, we are committed to providing you first-rate service, timely service, and quality – every single time!

How We’ve Grown Since the Beginning

 Universal Polymer & Rubber started out as a tarp strap and pipe gasket manufacturer. We have remained true to our roots by building upon that initial foundation. Starting off as a smaller size business, we leveraged our expertise in pipe gasket development and manufacturing, to gain business in other interwoven product applications including window gaskets, tote gaskets, and tires. Currently, we have branched out into other markets, and through our market diversity and versatility, we have been able to learn from all markets to apply best practices from each market application to the next.

To this day, we remain one of the largest suppliers of pipe gaskets in North America.

Look for more information on the many industries that we cover by following our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. We update them almost daily!

For any questions on our wide array of gaskets, moldings, extrusions, or company in general, simply contact us today. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

What Makes Reinforced Concrete Pipe Gaskets More Sustainable?

Reinforced concrete is a common material in pipes used in construction, and drainage and sewer systems. These pipes are sealed using a variety of methods during installation. One such method involves the use of gaskets made from polymers such as polyisoprene, neoprene, nitrile, and EPDM.

How durable is reinforced concrete pipe? Is it a good material for sustainable construction? Let’s take a closer look at concrete pipes, and assess their longevity and sustainability.

Longevity and Sustainability of Reinforced Concrete Pipe

Concrete has been used for centuries in construction because of its durability. Reinforcing concrete using a composite material such as high-tensile steel makes it last even longer, making it an ideal component for use in pipes.

Reinforced concrete pipes can operate even under the harshest conditions, and are resistant against compression,  bending, and other factors. They are also safe from intruding roots and soil.

When properly installed, reinforced concrete pipes can last for centuries. This is why this type of pipe remains more popular compared to others, including high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes.

Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. produces concrete pipe gaskets that meet ASTM C-443 and/or ASTM C-361 standards. For more information on our products and services, contact us today.

Remember to follow our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date.

An Overview of National Safety Month from Universal Polymer & Rubber

June is National Safety Month. Taking a look at the numbers, compared to 2015 there has been an almost 8 percent increase in total fatal injuries per year as of 2016, which saw 5,190 deaths. That same year also saw 849 falls, slips or trips, which was up by 49 incidents from 2015. Observed annually, National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work.

June serves as a time to raise awareness about important safety issues to ultimately help reduce preventable injuries and deaths. Each week in June this year, the National Safety Council will focus on a different safety topic.

National Safety Month Weekly Topics

The safety topics of the month are broken out as follows:

Week 1: Emergency Preparedness. This week will have a focus on being prepared for accidents and emergencies, including tornado prep plans and employee training on First Aid and CPR.

Week 2: Wellness. This week focuses on 360-wellness of employees, including anyone affected by the opioid crisis or by sleep disorders.

Week 3: Falls. The third week will shine a light on how to prevent falls in the workplace. It will touch on topics like cleaning up spills and hazards immediately and how these behaviors can help reduce the yearly incident count.

Week 4: Driving. The final week of National Safety Month talks about driving and related hazards, especially for those who drive for a living. After all, seat belts saved almost 15,000 lives in 2016. It addresses tips like avoiding cell phone use and making sure to get enough rest to prevent drowsy driving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safety Year-Round

While National Safety Month is observed every June, the NSC provides information, pamphlets, and posters for workplace safety year round. Maintaining a focus on safety during all months of the year is critical to avoiding incidents and improving workplace safety.

Contact us to find out more about National Safety Month and make sure to partake in the weekly topics with your employees for improved safety overall.

To continue following industry topics, find UPR on Twitter and LinkedIn. Our blog is accessible for more on transportation and cargo control market, construction and pipe manufacturers market, automotive OE supply chain (Tier II and Tier III), general industrial markets, and company updates.

We look forward to connecting soon!

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.

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