National Manufacturing Day® was created as a movement of the modern manufacturing industry, meant to motivate the next generation of new manufacturers. Taking place on the first Friday of every October, manufacturers around the country will open their doors to inspire students and encourage their perusal of manufacturing careers.
In order to generate a much larger career interest, industry authorities work annually to change the public’s perception of the industry. Each year, participants continue to correct the “old factory” image.
With the change in industry dynamic comes a new manufacturing image: modern manufacturing. In reality, today’s manufacturing jobs are exciting, harnessing the latest in technological innovation, and require highly skilled workers familiar with using such state-of-the-art technologies. 2018 manufacturing facilities are contemporary, stimulating, and inventive work environments. With current technology, trade workers might be placed in an office or lab, beyond the factory floor. Today, automation plays a huge role in the industry and we need the right players to assist with the functions and continual development of manufacturing throughout the U.S.
Embracing Technology and Innovation
Over the past few decades, American manufacturing has embraced technology and other revolutionary concepts.
National Manufacturing Day undertakings include the promotion of STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and math – to bridge the skills gap and reshore jobs back to the U.S. Scholarships are available.
UPR and other manufacturing businesses continue the efforts of pushing this movement forward throughout each year.
Beneficial for the Economy and Local Business
Universal Polymer & Rubber supports the significant strides that National Manufacturing Day participants have created to grow the U.S. manufacturing industry.
Reshoring is currently generating new job totals as many major producers choose to keep manufacturing facilities in the United States. Local businesses and the overall economy are benefiting as a result.
UP&R’s American-Made Tarp Straps
As an Ohio-based company, UPR proudly offers the AMERIPRIDE line of tarp straps that are U.S. made. The AMERIPRIDE tarp strap is available at an affordable price for use in the trucking, transportation, recreational vehicle, and marine industries. These UV-resistant straps are secured with S hooks that are manufactured from in-house wire coils.
Keep in Touch
By recognizing National Manufacturing Day, UPR supports the proud contributions of everyone in the manufacturing industry.
To learn more about how we support American manufacturing, follow us on our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn. For more information on our products and services, contact us today.
Recently imposed Chinese tariffs on U.S. rubber imports will have significant impact on the small to medium American manufacturers that support industries such as automotive, medical equipment, petrochemical, and plastics. As part of an increasingly contentious trade war, the latest Chinese tariffs call for a 25% increase on an array of goods, such as those used in rubber and polymer component fabrication.
The Harmful Impacts of a Trade War on Small Businesses
Small- and mid-sized manufacturers in America specializing in rubber moldings, extrusions, and injection-molded parts will be forced to find ways to counteract the adverse effects of rising inflation on raw materials. Petroleum is a primary component for synthetic rubber and polymer production, so the most recent tariffs mounted by China will no doubt force small manufacturers to increase their prices to compensate.
In early June, the Trump administration launched its first wave of tariffs against Chinese-manufactured equipment, including the injection and transfer molding machines commonly used for extruded rubber and plastics. This has only compounded the difficulties of the situation for smaller manufacturers, causing them to seek alternate sources for the rubber fabrication machinery they rely on to create products and components. The long-term effects are expected to influence manufacturers serving in the custom and OEM markets, including those facing downward pressure from larger partners that have also been affected by tariffs from both sides.
In automotive production, rubber-based and plastic-based products such as gaskets, seals, brake pads, and tires are on the front lines. Medical equipment companies rely on custom extruded plastic tubing, pump parts, and device housings. With another round of 25% tariffs recently finalized by the Trump administration, small and custom manufacturers must brace for the additional escalations that will inevitably follow.
Plan Ahead, Avoid Potential Pitfalls
The trade war could potentially expand into industrial chemicals and fluoropolymers that are used in rubber gaskets and extruded plastic profiles, as well. Many of those materials are chemically formulated for high-temperature ranges, corrosion resistance, and anti-weathering, making them a crucial requirement for operations with harsh environments. A domino effect in pricing will no doubt impact buyers down the supply chain in a range of industries. Fortunately, however, many small business manufacturers are doing what they can by shifting resources to other markets, reducing production, and tightening profit margins.
Industry at UPR
At Universal Polymer & Rubber, our team is committed to staying on point for our clients, leveraging seasoned and innovative methods to ensure that we maintain the same service standards despite the trade war impact. We work hard every day to apply our years of small business manufacturing expertise to finding ways to ensure that our clients get their products on-time, within budget, and without sacrificing quality.
Follow our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on current industry news and trends. For more information on our products and services, contact us today.
WEFTEC, The Water Environment Federation (WEF), brings together water quality control experts from around the world to provide the best water quality education and training in the field today. It stands apart from the rest, as the largest conference of its class in North America.
Taking place at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, the exhibition is recognized as the greatest annual water quality exposition in the world. Their showcase delivers unique access to the most cutting-edge technologies on the market and creates networking opportunities for domestic and international business relations. You never know who you will have the chance to meet at the forum, as a large number of experts from many fields tend to appear.
A Leading Source in Water Quality:
WEFTEC lends insight as a leading source of water quality, as the following contemporary water and wastewater issues and solutions will be addressed:
As a producer of polymer solutions towards concrete pipe gaskets, manhole gaskets, pipe specifications, and sealing solutions, our enthusiastic and bright staff attends WEFTEC to learn about the latest industry trends and developments to apply to our current and future in-house manufacturing. Our industry focuses include construction, drainage piping, sewer piping, concrete piping, and marine.
Each year, we look forward to networking prospects with water quality control experts, as our aim is to solve problems and create solutions for the sealing of gaskets, pipes, and more. Our ultimate effort is to make your joint systems run smoothly, with the highest level of quality and efficiency. From customer’s joint details to extrusion die development, splice mold manufacturing, and finally finished spliced gaskets, all aspects of the process are contained within UP&R to ensure proper process and strict quality control. Our flexibility also extends to other water and sewer piping markets.
As a polymer business in operation since 1971, we continue to reinvent ourselves in an endlessly changing market. Remaining true to our roots, we continue to build upon our ever-growing foundation. Through our diversity and versatility, we reliably service customer needs across a wide variety of polymer compounds, designs, and specifications, all at competitive pricing.
Although we produce domestically, we maintain international partnerships. This flexibility enables us to learn from a variety of markets and to apply best practices from market to market. All of our UP&R concrete pipes and manhole gaskets meet ASTM C-443 and ASTM C-361 standards depending on your project specification.
UP&R is also a proud member of the American Concrete Pipe Association (ACPA), as well as the National Precast Association (NPCA). Today, we remain one of the largest pipe gasket suppliers in the U.S.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
National Manufacturing Day (NMD) is an annual day of recognition for the modern manufacturing industry. Established to highlight companies in the manufacturing sector and their many accomplishments, it is also designed to inspire and help secure the next generation of American industrial creators. Those firms interested in participating may register on the official site. Once listed, individual events can be marked as public or invitation-only.
NMD initiatives include the promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects, bridging the skills gap and reshoring of industry back to the U.S.
On Friday, Oct 6, 2017, NMD will highlight more than 2,000 American manufacturers, with many opening their doors to the public to showcase this vital sector of our economy and inspire America’s youth to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. Manufacturers like UP&R understand how essential it is to motivate millennials to graduate in science, technology, engineering, and math, as these graduates hold the key to future American production and innovation. Industries’ goals are to help ensure that the manufacturing industry in America will continue to not only survive, but thrive.
A couple of proudly made-in-the-USA examples from UP&R’s product line are Goldline and AMERIPRIDE Tarp Straps. These straps are used by truckers to keep their tarps securely tied down and their cargo safe from weather or any other environmental hazards.
Based in Middlefield, Ohio, our company got our start in 1970 and has been in continuous operation as a premiere custom manufacturer of rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions and rubber moldings including compression moldings, transfer moldings and injection moldings that meet the needs of our many valued customers. In celebrating this day, we not only acknowledge our contributions but those of all our partners in industry.