If you’ve been keeping up with us on Facebook and Twitter, you know that we recently acquired Dybrook Products, Inc. Dybrook is a leader in custom molded and extruded rubber products, so making them a part of Universal Polymer and Rubber was a no brainer. With their addition we’ve expanded our customer base and our production capabilities, all of which provides us with a better foundation for the future.
But it was more than additional customers and production space that spurred our interest in Dybrook. Part of our goal here at Universal is to always be learning, and always be growing. With the acquisition of Dybrook, we’re looking to take the best practices from their business, combine those with the best practices of ours and end up with a company that’s stronger and smarter than the sum of its parts.
This mindset is part and parcel of what we do here at Universal. To be successful in our business everyone wears multiple hats. It’s the reason the VP of sales watches imports and exports. No one on our team sees a problem and goes, “Well, that’s someone else’s job.” We all apply our strengths wherever they’re needed. The folks at Dybrook are on the same page. Together, we have a great mix of philosophies and a team that’s always working to better provide our customers with the solutions they need.
Chaos and uncertainty aren’t ideal conditions to operate in, but they’re facts of life in our business. To that end, we do everything we can to see our customers through to the other side.
This year has been an unpredictable one for us. Months that are typically busy have been slow, while historically slow months have been booming. In these tough economic times, everyone is cutting inventory. Many times companies aren’t placing orders to manufacturers until they get orders from their customers—and they want to make sure their customers don’t see any delay. It’s always a challenging position to work under the gun, and while we don’t prefer it, we’re here for our clients. In these unexpected busy periods we’ve come through.
Uncertain price points are also a reality. Here at universal we work with synthetic rubber. 75-80% of that rubber is petrochemical based—in other words, oil based. Ingredients such as polymers, process oils and carbon black are used to form the rubber compounds we work with, each ingredient with their own suppliers. Over the last ten years we’ve seen the number of those suppliers cut in half. Less suppliers means less competition, which means higher prices and increased price inelasticity. All of this leads to an aggravating situation: when oil prices go up, so do petrochemical prices, but when oil prices go down, petrochemical prices are slow to follow. Our clients see the news about falling oil prices and call to ask why we haven’t lowered our prices to match. And while we can’t make
While we can’t do anything to lower prices, we do everything we can to shield clients from sudden increases due to a rise in oil prices. We control all of the variables we can within our four walls to maintain consistent pricing.
So while the times aren’t ideal, the service you get from Universal Polymer and Rubber is. We’re here to get you top quality products when you need them, for a fair price.
We’d like to clear something up: our rubber tarp straps don’t have a Working Load Limit (WLL) printed on them, and they’re not supposed to. Lately we’ve been catching a lot of flack for this. Our tarp straps are used to tension covers and tarps over loads, typically loads carried by flat bed trucks. The straps keep the tarps from flapping around during transport, something that would limit both their effectiveness and their service life. A working load limit applies to the maximum cargo weight a strap can be used to restrain. The problem is that tarp straps are not cargo restraint straps. They’re designed to stretch, which—while beneficial when holding down tarps—is a serious hazard when restraining cargo.
The problem arose when overseas manufacturers started printing WLLs on their tarp straps. What makes this situation all the more baffling is that there’s no way to test the tensionality of rubber. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) set the standards for these tests: how they are to be operated and the standards they are to adhere to. Neither of these bodies has ever put forth a method for setting a WLL for rubber tarp straps. Compounding this is the fact that all rubber inherently wears out—a natural rubber strap that’s been under sunlight for six months will have a lower breaking point than a new strap. Even if an accurate test were developed, the results wouldn’t hold firm over time.
We understand how this problem grew out of control. If you see a safety rating on one product, you start to wonder why a similar product by a different manufacturer doesn’t have the same rating. But in this case, it’s equivalent to stating the laser intensity your bicycle helmet can withstand (and we certainly hope you ride your bike in laser-free environments). It’s frustrating to lose business over an incorrect practice, but it’s downright distressing to know that companies are selling unsafe products that have the potential to hurt a lot of people. So please, when you’re buying tarp straps, use them only to hold down tarps, for the sake of your safety and the safety of everyone on the road.
If you’re like us, you’re busy, and turning five stops into one is a dream that too rarely comes true. Well, in this case we can turn that dream into a reality. We already offer top-of-the-line rubber molding, rubber extruding and plastic extruding services. But we also offer secondary services that allow you to leave with a finished product. With our assembly, punching, cutting, splicing, trimming and PSA tape application services you can make sure that when you come to us, you’re done.
For one of our clients, we manufacture diaphragms for air operated double diaphragm (AODD) pumps. After molding the rubber body of the diaphragm, we trim off the excess rubber through precision die cutting. Using a punch press, we punch holes into the diaphragm to accommodate different bolt configurations and diameters, allowing the diaphragm to leave our shop and be bolted right into a pump.
We also manufacture a variety of molded rubber tarp straps. The hook holes are molded into the part during the molding process, we manufacture the s-hooks that go through those holes, and we package the whole thing. For these straps, we even offer retail package design services. You come to us with an order, and you leave with something that’s ready for store shelves. So when it comes time to manufacture your product, we hope you think of us first—and then move on to something else.