History of Rubber – The Magic of Northeast Ohio

Akron, Ohio is about 40 miles south of Cleveland, and seventy years ago it became the rubber capital of the world. You can think of the array of businesses that developed in Northeast Ohio as different branches on one big rubber tree, and the seeds of that tree were Harvey Firestone and Charles Goodyear, names you probably recognize from your tires. Harvey and Charles each started their businesses in Akron and the industry grew around them. Chemists in Akron made a number of rubber breakthroughs, and pretty soon every major tire company other than Michelin had business in Ohio.

 

The overflow of rubber expertise gave rise to a host of rubber ancillaries. Guys working at the major tire plants would say “I can do this myself” and start up their own mold shops and extrusion shops. Eventually the spinoffs had spinoffs. There was one company by the name of Mantaline. Today, there are probably seven business owners / managers in Northeast Ohio who can say they got their start at Mantaline.

 

The guys who started these shops were all owner/operators. But as they got older, in most instances their children had no interest in taking over the family business, and many of these guys were left without continuation plans. Over the past few years, many of these businesses have come to us looking for acquisition advice. At UP&R we maintain an aggressive stance towards future growth through acquisition. This is made possible by our corporate management, The Cypress Companies. They have tremendous relationships with lending institutions, and a reputation for long term business strategy, fiscal vigilance and expert management. Through their knowledge and our experience with acquisitions, we’ve become a resource for the rubber owner/operators in Northeast Ohio.

 

While the number of rubber businesses in the area isn’t quite as high as it used to be, that same rubber expertise lives on. Northeast Ohio’s proud tradition in rubber manufacturing continues today, and we’re proud to be a part of it.

Changing Business Trends – Adapting to 2013

As the new year begins, business and manufacturing is strong in a number of markets. At the end of every year businesses typically reduce their inventories to prepare for the end of the fiscal year. In 2012 those reductions started back in November as anxiety grew in anticipation of the fiscal cliff. Then towards the end of December, as word trickled out that things might not be as bad as everyone thought, we actually saw business pick up. Recovery is still moving slow, but it’s moving nonetheless and the market is beginning to react. Here at UP&R we serve businesses in a wide range of industries. Part of our job is keeping up with the changes in these market sectors, and adapting to best serve our customers.

Construction

After a lengthy depression we’re just starting to see improvement in the construction industry. Industry activity is up 10% to 20% year on year compared to 2011, but compared with 2007 numbers the industry is still at a historic low. But as numbers pick up we’re glad to see the first positive signs in years.


Tarp Straps

We’ve grown sales of our GOLDLINE® and SILVERINE® tarp straps by going head to head against Asian manufactured tarp straps. We’re proud of our tarp straps and plan to continue increasing sales, along with domestic production, in 2013.

Automotive

As the exchange rate between the dollar and the yen has shifted from favoring the dollar to favoring the yen, manufacturing parts in Japan has become exponentially more expensive than it has been in the past. For this reason we’re seeing a large trend towards manufacturing formerly done in Japan being brought to the U.S. Nissan is building a new plant in New Mexico and adding on to existing plants, and Toyota and Honda are moving the production of more vehicle models here as well. The associated tier 1, 2 and 3 automotive suppliers are following suit, moving new production to U.S. shores and increasing existing domestic production

As these and other industries begin to find their footing, we’re making sure to allocate resources accordingly to meet the needs of all of our customers.