The Power of Momentum

Here at UP&R we’re growing. And not only are we growing, we have momentum. We’re on pace to do almost twice as much business in 2012 as we did in 2006. And we’re looking to do even more business in 2013. There’s no better feeling than momentum. It means our success is more than just a flash in the pan, and that the strategies we’re employing are working and working well.

And what are those strategies? The first is acquisition. Much like our acquisition of Dybrook, Inc. a few months back, we seek out the best businesses in the industry to increase our capacity and our capabilities. We also learn from each business we acquire, making us a stronger company overall.

The second factor that’s made sustained growth possible is our incredible sales force. They truly can’t be beat in terms of knowledge, experience and the rapport they have with their clients. Our sales force falls into two groups. The first is made up of guys that have been working for us for years. They know the industry inside and out, and have the product knowledge to get clients the answers they need. The other part of our sales team is made up of former manufacturers. They were operations guys, down on the floor making parts. So when they’re out visiting a client’s plant, not only can they tell the client whether or not UP&R can make a certain part, they can tell them how we’ll make that part. They can take them through the process step by step, because they have years of experience doing it themselves.

And what does our growth mean for our customers? First, by growing profitably, we’re ensuring that we can reinvest in our business to stay globally competitive. Second, it could potentially grant us leverage when ordering raw materials, allowing us to purchase materials at a lower price and pass those savings onto our customers. Third, growth begets growth. Projects that haven’t been nurtured can now be brought to fruition. A stronger UP&R means a stronger partner for our clients, and our growth shows no signs of stopping.

An Elastomer for Every Application

What type of rubber should you use when you need a part that can withstand intense heat? How about constant outdoor exposure? What if you need chemical resistance? As the title says, there is an elastomer for every application. And while the possible chemical combinations that make up an elastomer are near limitless, elastomers can be broken up into general categories. Allow us to walk you through them.

Neoprene – Neoprene is what we like to call an “all purpose” rubber. It’s good for indoor and outdoor applications, and is resistant to most chemicals, oils, weather conditions, and just about any other challenge. For a wide range of applications, neoprene is your best bet.

EPDM – When you need a part that can withstand even the nastiest outdoor weather conditions, you need EPDM. In addition to being extremely resilient, it’s also resistant to heat and electricity. What’s more, despite all that abuse, it’s still resistant to color fade. For a durable rubber that won’t look like it’s taken a beating, stick with EPDM.

Nitrile (Buna-N) – A lot of chemicals have very strong smells, smells that can often times seep into rubber. Examples include aromatic hydrocarbons, petroleum oils, mineral oils, vegetable oils and gasoline. If your part will be subjected to these polymers, have no fear—nitrile is built to withstand even the most fragrant of chemicals.

SBR – SBR is what we like to call an economically priced rubber. It’s a durable polymer with an affordable price point. And it boasts low water absorption properties to boot.

Natural – Natural rubber is one of the toughest elastomers around. With extremely high tensile and elongation properties, it’s resistant to both flexing and permanent set. On top of all that, it’s resistant to electricity as well.

Silicone – Do you have an application where extreme heat or cold is involved? If so, look no further than silicone. With a normal temperature range of 150 degrees F to 500 degrees F, it can withstand drastic temperature changes, all while retaining its flexibility.

Beyond the basics, rubber can be customized on a chemical level to handle the unique requirements of any application. For a more detailed breakdown of the rubber families we’ve covered here, see the chart below. To find the exact polymer best suited for your application, give us a call at 440-632-1691, or shoot us an email at info@universalpolymer.com.

 

Elastomers

Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts

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

Rubber MoldingChaos 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.

Misconceptions About Tarp Straps and WLL

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.

We Do It All

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.

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