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What’s Holding US Manufacturing Back?

In the United States, the manufacturing industry is very important as it creates jobs for millions of people, as well as provides the products and goods the country needs.  Our previous blogs have looked at how the economy has fared since President Trump took office and the importance of the American Manufacturing industry and Manufacturing Day.  While there have been positive signs that the manufacturing industry is growing, it is still not at the peak levels of the past.

Manufacturing

3 Obstacles Holding US Manufacturing Back

  • Securing Talent: The majority of American Manufacturing is based in mid-western states, and in areas that are more rural than city.   Many manufacturing companies in these areas have jobs available for qualified candidates but have trouble convincing people to relocate to these areas.  By being based far away from high population cities, long commutes could keep candidates from accepting offers.  To grow a business, quality employees are needed, and this can be difficult for Midwestern manufacturing companies.
  • Lack of Modernization: While technology has advanced significantly over the last decade, not all manufacturing companies have taken advantage of this.  Many are still running their operations on old computer systems and software, and are still doing business by fax.  Reasons for this range from the potentially high cost of updating these systems, to not wanting to change a system that has been in place for years due to a high level of comfort.   By not updating this technology companies are missing out on opportunities to be more efficient which could lead to additional profit and revenue.  It also could prevent talented employees from joining the team who would not want to work with outdated systems.
  • The “Old School Culture”: Many Midwestern manufacturing companies are family owned and operated, and are made up of employees who have been with the company for decades.  While their loyalty and experience is necessary and important, many times this can create a culture that is resistant to change, and unwelcoming to new employees and ideas.  By not staying up with the latest industry innovations, and welcoming new viewpoints and ideas from new employees, it will be hard for these companies to be competitive and successful long term.

By embracing new ideas and technology, manufacturing companies across the United States will be able to improve their efficiency and production and set themselves up for long-term success.  At Universal Polymer & Rubber we are proud to be a Midwestern manufacturing company and are always looking for the best way we can serve our customers.  For more information on our products and capabilities, please contact us.

The Sales Development Process Isn’t As Quick As You Think

To be a successful business it is important to develop new customers while still providing excellent service to your existing customers.  At Universal Polymer & Rubber we are a manufacturer of rubber molded parts, rubber extruded parts and plastic extruded parts, along with tarp straps for the trucking industry.  We are regularly meeting with new potential clients to review their needs and requirements and discuss how we might be able to assist them.  This sales development process is not quick like some businesses might think, but requires due diligence done on both sides to make sure the fit is right.  Below is an outline of the sales development process.

Business meeting

The Sales Development Process:

Creating the Relationship – The first and one of the most important steps of the process is creating the initial relationship with a potential new client.  Getting your foot in the door isn’t always easy and can take time to build trust and understanding regarding the services your company can provide them.  This can require much follow up and persistence and usually isn’t as simple as calling up and offering to be the company’s new supplier.

Providing Samples – Once the initial relationship is made, the next step is providing samples or porotypes to show the company you can meet their requirements.  This can require multiple meetings to learn the exact specs of what they need, and once that is obtained more time will be used to make the samples to present to them.

Testing of Products and Materials –   When the sample or prototype is presented to the client, they will then need to perform testing to make sure it actually meets all their requirements and will fulfil all their qualifications.  Many times there can be back and forth at this step as changes are required.  By creating a good relationship in the initial step, this can be an easier operation as both sides are looking to develop a successful working partnership.

Ramp Inventory Down from Old Supplier – All the specs have been met, the customer is happy with the product. Is the customer immediately able to buy in bulk from you?  Not so fast!  Most likely they have a large amount of inventory still on hand, or possibly even on order from their old supplier.  More waiting time will be spent as they finish up this entire inventory and then are ready to receive the items you will be providing.

While the sales development process can take a long time, it can be worth it for both sides at the end as a successful partnership has been created.  For more information on the products and services Universal Polymer & Rubber can provide for you, please contact us here.

How Is the Economy Doing Since President Trump Took Office?

Historically when there is a change in presidential administrations, there is a sense of hesitancy in the business and manufacturing world as people wait to see what changes will be made.  This year with the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency, that hesitancy does not seem to exist.  A key part of President Trump’s campaign platform, and his first months in office has been the goal of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and increasing the amount of American made products and goods.  This has led to a positive feeling in the manufacturing industry as companies look to take advantage of this new presidential direction.

Economy and Manufacturing in USA

Job Creation and the Economy:

One of the best ways to track how the economy is doing is with job creation numbers.  In February, reports from ADP and Moody’s Analytics reported that jobs were added at an impressive pace, much more than was predicted. Employment in the private sector increased by 298,000 in February, and goods producers added another 106,000 jobs on top of that.  Construction and the manufacturing industries also added 66,000 and 32,000 jobs respectively as well.  These are enormous numbers and show that businesses believe the economy is going to continue to grow under President Trump.

Manufacturing Growth:

Manufacturing growth has also been up significantly since President Trump has been in office.  According to the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) monthly Manufacturing Report on Business, the February PMI came in at 57.7.  The PMI is the index used by ISM to measure growth, and this February reading is the highest monthly PMI reading since August 2014.  Many manufacturing sectors contributed to the growth including transportation equipment, computer & electronic products, fabricated metal products, and wood products among many others.  New orders, which are a huge factor when calculating the health of the manufacturing industry was up 4.7% to 65.1, matching the previous record high that was last seen in December 2013.  Overall almost every reading was up in the latest report, showing that the platform of the new administration is enhancing the economy and manufacturing industry.

At Universal Polymer & Rubber we are proud to be an American manufacturing company.  Our GOLDLINE, SILVERLINE, and AMERIPRIDE tarp straps are American made and used throughout the trucking industry.  This positive trend for the economy and manufacturing industry has been great to see after years of stagnation, and we look forward to seeing it continue.  For more information on products and services, please contact us.

Introducing AMERIPRIDE Tarp Straps from UP&R

UP&R is excited to introduce our latest product for the trucking industry: AMERIPRIDE Tarp straps. Made in the USA, the AMERIPRIDE line continues the tradition of our GOLDLINE and SILVERLINE Tarp straps, which have been a standard for the trucking industry since the 1970s. Tarps are vital for truckers to keep their cargo safe from weather and other environmental hazards, and AMERIPRIDE straps will help meet your tarp tie down needs.

Made of EPDM in our Middlefield OH facility, the AMERIPRIDE strap has excellent UV and Ozone resistance. The AMERIPRIDE tarp strap is available at an affordable price for use in the trucking, transportation, recreational vehicle, and marine industries. Remaining flexible across a variety of climates, these straps will perform their task of holding down tarps. Available in sizes of 10”, 15”, 21”, 31”, and 41”, they come 50 pieces to a boxed and can be shipped to any location. Delivered with S hooks that are manufactured in house directly from wire coils, UP&R is proud to offer a product that is completely Made in the USA.

Also this year from March 23-25, we will be exhibiting at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky. This show is the largest heavy-duty trucking industry event in the world, with over 70,000 attendees, and 1,000+ exhibitors from the United States and abroad. An annual event for the trucking industry to come together and showcase new products and ideas, this is a can’t miss show. Be sure to visit us at booth #69128 for one of the first opportunities to get a look at our AMERIPRIDE Tarp straps. Our product specialists will also be available to answer any questions about our products and services.

For more information on our AMERIPRIDE Tarp straps and how they can assist in your tarp tie down requirements, contact us.

UP&R is ISO/TS 16949 Certified

There are many reasons a company would want to be ISO/TS 16949 certified. ISO is the acronym for the International Standards Organization, which is a non-governmental, independent organization. The ISO publishes standards which lets consumers know they are getting the best products, services, and systems. The ISO also facilitates international trade, with consumers in all countries understanding they will get the best in quality and efficiently produced products, all while being made within specific safety standards. ISO certification is completely voluntary but has gained widely in popularity.

ISO certification

To date, the ISO has published over 21,000 standards in a variety of industries: from food safety to technology to agriculture and everything in between. ISO/TS 16949 is a technical specification which was developed to help aid with quality management systems. It allows for continuing improvement, while addressing defect prevention with the reduction of waste along the automotive industry supply chain. It is based on the ISO 9001 standard, and is a valuable certification to obtain if a company is looking to work with automobile manufacturers.

ISO/TS 16949 was drafted by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) along with a technical committee made up of ISO members. This technical specification was designed to bring about regulations that are country specific when dealing with quality management systems. The ISO/TS 16949 certification is valid for three years.

As a custom manufacturer of rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions, and rubber moldings, Universal Polymer and Rubber understands the importance of being ISO/TS 16949 certified. Not only does being certified streamline the manufacturing process, but it ensures any risks or problems are addressed during the process. A benefit of this is that customers are able to have a higher rate of satisfaction by knowing they are getting a quality produced piece that was manufactured using the best methods of safety and efficiency. By using more efficient processes, which translates into a lower cost for production, which in the end saves our customer’s money. For more information on the services we can offer you contact us.

The American Manufacturing Industry and Manufacturing Day

The manufacturing industry is very important to the American economy.  It is a provider of jobs and goods that the country needs.  In recent years there has been a push to promote the importance of manufacturing and make sure that the youth of America know that it is a viable career option.  This first led to the creation of Manufacturing Day, which is held on the first Friday of October, which has then grown to celebrating the manufacturing industry all throughout the month of October!

Made in AMERICA

The goal of Manufacturing Day is to celebrate the modern manufacturing industry, and inspire the next generation of manufacturers.  Throughout the country events are held at manufacturing facilities where student groups and the public can come in and tour the facility.  On these tours they will get to see first-hand the manufacturing process in action, and learn more about what it takes to make a career in the manufacturing industry.  With there being a high demand for skilled workers in the manufacturing industry, these events help to show students the future jobs that are available to them.  With the population getting older, and more people retiring, it is important that these manufacturing jobs are filled with qualified candidates.  Manufacturing Day is one way to bring exposure to the availability of these jobs.

At Universal Polymer we are strong supporters of the manufacturing industry in the United States.  Based out of Middlefield, Ohio we manufacture rubber molded parts, rubber extruded parts, and plastic extruded parts.  Our products such as the GOLDLINE and SILVERLINE tarp straps are American made and used throughout the trucking industry.   Since our beginning in 1970, we have been committed to providing first-rate service, timely service, and quality every time.  For more information about our products and services, please contact us.

Mixed Signals in US Manufacturing

Since the recession years of the late 2000s, the manufacturing industry in the US has been working to rebound.  In 2016, there are mixed signals and confusion over how the manufacturing industry is doing.  Articles and reports are coming out on a regular basis, talking about how this specific market is up, while another is down and even others that are staying flat.  Many of the stories seem to be written with a positive spin to show only positive numbers, looking for anyway to portray that manufacturing is as strong as it’s been in years.  At Universal Polymer we work with customers in a number of markets, and have seen firsthand the differences in the health of these markets.

Economic Uncertainty

A recent report from the Federal Reserve said that factory production dropped 0.4 percent in August, after an increase of 0.4 percent in July.  From a year ago factory output is also down 0.4 percent.  This after multiple reports showing strong gains in June and July this year that seemed to signal that the manufacturing industry was beginning to turn a corner.  Industrial output which includes areas like mines and utilities also dropped 0.4 percent.  U.S utility output fell 1.4 percent in August after 2 consecutive months of strong gains that reflected the seasonal use of air conditioning during the hot summer weather.  Mining production actually rose 1 percent, and is on a trend of increases after a long period of declines, but yet is still 9.3 percent lower than a year ago.

All of the numbers that come out in these reports seem to show that overall the industry is staying flat.  Headlines saying that manufacturing output stumbled or is slumping are using the most minimal changes in output to determine that.  Reporting every month does not give a truly accurate picture of the trends that are occurring in manufacturing if the difference is only 0.4 percent.  In a previous blog this year we explored how auto sales have been reported to be growing at the fastest pace since 2000 this year, while production numbers have been low and manufacturers have been facing scandals.  This is just another example of the mixed signals over the overall health of the auto industry, which may be considered strong or weak depending on the report you read that week.

At Universal Polymer we work with many different markets and industries and see the challenges that each is facing in today’s economy.  We work with our customers to find solutions to their rubber and plastic extrusions and rubber molding needs and are the only manufacturer of the world famous Gold Line Tarp Straps.  In an industry where the health and outlook seems to change every month, we are consistent in our desire to tackle new challenges and provide answers to our customer’s questions.

National Concrete Pipe Week

National Concrete Pipe Week is observed this year from August 14-20 to celebrate the concrete pipe and precast products industry. An initiative of American Concrete Pipe Association, the sole purpose of this week is to make people aware of how concrete pipes, precast units and the ancillary industries related to them positively impact the quality of life of US citizens.  During this week long celebration, the contributions of workers, manufacturing plants, and other industries that support concrete pipe producers will be acknowledged.

Concrete pipe

To understand why this week occurs it is important to list out some ways in which concrete pipes are unique and useful.
  • Concrete pipes are intrinsically strong. They derive their strength and their robustness from the concrete mix and the production process. They do not rely much on soil traction and thus are used to reinforce structures even in areas where the top soil is loose.
  • Concrete pipes are capable of handling large volumes of fluids and all types of liquid waste and sewage. Without the arteries of concrete pipes, suitably bolstered with steel, crisscrossing the country the drainage in many of the nation’s most congested areas would be compromised and could result in unseasonal flooding.

With the latest advancements in technology and breakthroughs, there is increased precision of the fabrication process. Computer controlled designs and batch production facilities have eliminated instances of waste and expedited delivery timeline resulting in a more profitable industry.

The National Concrete Pipe Week will showcase these developments and will also put the spotlight on the transporters, the sand and stone providers and the concrete suppliers who make manufacturing and distribution possible.

Universal Polymer is Proud to Support the Concrete Pipe Industry:

At Universal Polymer we are excited to celebrate National Concrete Pipe Week. We support the concrete pipe industry and produce concrete pipe and manhole gaskets from a variety of polymers. All of the concrete pipe and manhole gaskets we manufacture meet ASTM C-443 and/or ASTM C-361 depending on the particular pipe specification.  For more information on our capabilities please contact us.

The Precast Show and Mid America Truck Show

This year in March, Universal Polymer & Rubber attended both The Precast Show in Nashville, TN and the Mid America Truck Show in Louisville, KY. Both of these shows were great opportunities to network with potential clients and business partners, and to view the latest trends in the industry.  Attendance was high for both shows with the crowd being a combination of end users and business-to-business suppliers.

Trade show stand

The 45th annual Mid-America Trucking Show was a successful event with over 70,000 attendees and over 1,100 exhibitors.  The show was competing against a major auto show occurring in Germany at the same time, and many large companies were protesting the show due to this conflict in dates.  With these larger companies missing, the show was more spread out than usual with trailer spacers further apart than normal, causing more back and forth travel to be able to see everything.  With a large number of truck drivers attending this show, there was also a large amount of foot traffic, which while beneficial in helping to promote to a larger amount of people, also did not lead to huge purchases and orders since truck drivers would be buying products on a smaller scale.  All things considered this show was a great opportunity to see the latest innovations and the newest technology in the heavy-duty trucking industry.

The 2016 Precast Show was a great event hosted by the National Precast Concrete Association.  With over 300 companies exhibiting, including Universal Polymer & Rubber, the leaders in the precast concrete industry were able to show off the latest innovations.  Events included a crane operator certification update, a women in precast reception, and the Honky-Tonk Hoedown at the Wildhorse Saloon on Saturday night.  Awards were also given out including the Pinnacle Award, Plant Certification Awards, Sustainability Awards and Creative Use of Precast Awards.  Overall the show was a great opportunity for Universal Polymer to interact with many new potential business partners.

The next show we will be attending is WEFTEC 2016 from Sept. 24-28.   For more information on the tradeshows and events we will be attending and exhibiting at next, be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

National Safety Month 2016

Every year, hundreds of workers are killed or injured at work – everything from a minor fall to major, fatal accidents cost American businesses and manufacturers thousands of man-hours. While industry is constantly working to improve safety measures and habits to protect its employees, sometimes we need an event to help focus even further.

Workplace safety

National Safety Month

While safety is a year-round endeavor, every June, the National Safety Council puts together the National Safety Month. This is an opportunity to draw attention to safety issues in the work place, at home, in the community, and on the roadways. Through supplying downloadable resources and other promotional materials, the council makes it easy to get in touch with the work force and promote safety. Areas covered include:

  • First Aid Training
  • Workplace Safety
  • Compliance Training
  • Driver Safety
  • Fleet and Specialty Vehicle Training

Safety Year-Round

While National Safety Month is a major focal point, the National Safety Council provides information, pamphlets and posters for the work place, and much more all year. Even if it isn’t National Safety Month, it can still be a good month for you to go over safety with your employees and co-workers. Work with your company, employees, and co-workers to identify areas where your company may need to improve, and develop and implement training and response. The National Safety Council is a great source for books and reference materials for your company’s safety improvements.

Here at Universal Polymer, we will be using National Safety Month to help ensure that our employees are cognizant of the dangers that can be found in the workplace, and how to avoid injury or worse.  For our customers, we help them keep a safe working environment by offering Goldline ® and Silverline ® tarp straps for the trucking industry.  These straps are durable, strong, and have a resistance to weathering, making them the best option for keeping tarps strapped down.   Contact us here to learn more information about our tarp straps and our safety philosophies.