Category Archive: Economy

The Cost of Chaos, Part 2: Oil Price & Trade War Uncertainty Continues

As we discussed in the first part of this blog series, one of the best ways to create long-term response plans to volatility is to stay informed. “Ongoing volatility” is a great way to summarize the changes in oil pricing and the status of the U.S.-China trade war. Uncertainty surrounding market and political events can mean additional time and resources devoted to weathering the “storm,” so we’re keeping track of them to the best of our abilities, and relaying what we’ve learned.

Read on to discover the latest developments in the oil market and trade war.

Oil Price Developments

Oil prices rapidly fell throughout the first months of 2019, but is on the rise once again as of the first week of April. While October 2018 saw oil prices of over $84 per barrel, in February 2019 they plummeted to around $55. However, prices have been on a surging uptick (at faster rates than predicted), and as of April 4th Brent oil prices exceeded $70 per barrel for the first time in nearly 5 months.

What’s Causing the Oil Price Increase?

A single surge isn’t proof of a trend. However, analysts cite the tight global supply as a probable cause for the price increase. Part of this may be due to OPEC’s plan to cut oil production and supply by 1.2 billion barrels of crude oil per day in April.

This limit on production is a carefully organized counter-balance to the recent months’ drops in oil prices. By restricting the supply, OPEC hopes that the price will correct itself. The measure also aims to help restore the economies of OPEC countries that depend on oil exports.

According to President Trump (stated on Twitter in February), “Oil prices are getting too high. OPEC, please relax and take it easy. World cannot take a price hike — fragile!” However, the Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih returned that the OPEC is indeed taking it easy, and emphasized that overall pricing stability is the highest priority. Price stabilization is essential for reliable supply chains. When manufacturers and distributers can predict upcoming costs, they can more accurately budget for their own processes.

U.S.–China Trade War Developments

Economic turbulence and pricing competition aren’t the only forces hitting markets. With the ongoing talks between China’s President Xi Jinping and President Trump, both domestic and international markets have been waiting to hear about the future regarding:

  • Oil markets
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Tariffs on Chinese-manufactured goods
  • Stability for domestically produced parts and equipment

Recently imposed tariffs have hurt affected industries, particularly manufacturing. These tariffs are currently at 10%, and the planned raise to 25% is currently on hold in a temporary 90-day agreement. A point of continuous debate is that China would like to remove all tariffs involved, while Trump insists that some tariffs remain for the U.S. to have leverage over China until all resulting agreements are fulfilled.

Is an End to Trade Tensions in Sight?

China and the United States have been negotiating several of the items listed above to reach compromises without imposing further tariffs or intensifying the trade war. According to President Trump, there has been “substantial progress” in reaching a deal. The progress may be enough to do away with the previously planned tariff increases from 10% to 25%.

However, if these increases are indeed imposed on the 5,700+ products outlined by the Trump administration in June 2018, the resulting pricing instability will undeniably hurt industries on both sides of the Pacific. Manufacturers that rely on rubber and polymers in particular, such as the automotive and medical technology fields, will especially feel the fluctuations within the supply chain.

Current progress in the China-U.S. negotiations has so far delayed new instability. As of April 4th, Trump has relayed that trade talks are going well, and that both sides of the table plan to continue talks and sign a final trade agreement soon. UP&R will be closely tracking this progress to provide updates on potential impacts and pricing considerations throughout the upcoming weeks.

High Quality Products During Turbulent Market Conditions

Maintaining a secure supply chain is absolutely crucial to every industry, including those of us – including UP&R – that rely on oil compounds and rubber. Although international markets may be in a state of flux, you can trust that UP&R will remain consistent in delivering the highest-quality products every time. Our rubber and plastic extrusions, rubber moldings, and die-cut parts will continue to be available at reasonable price points.

We have over 50 years of rubber and plastic extrusion experience, with specialties across many industries. Although political tension, oil market fluctuations, and international trade uncertainties may create worrisome headlines, you can always rely on Universal Polymer & Rubber. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities and services.

The Cost of Chaos: Economic Challenges Going Into 2019

The start of 2019 carries with it several uncertainties from 2018: for example, the instability of the global supply chain caused by the United States’ trade war with China, and volatile oil prices brought about partly by ongoing situations within Venezuela and the Middle East. Despite efforts by the federal government to alleviate some of the negative effects of these events, many small and medium-sized businesses must continue seeking new ways to adapt to an unstable global market.

Here we outline these causes of uncertainty and how they impact businesses like UP&R:

Volatile Oil Prices

Oil prices have fluctuated dramatically over the last 12 months, disrupting supply chains for manufacturers that rely on this resource. For example, between mid-September and late November 2018, oil prices dropped from approximately $74 per gallon to just $50 per gallon in a span of six weeks. This creates a frustrating situation for oil consumers, who in turn have a more difficult job ascertaining when to purchase oil and how much of it.

Forbes recently described two key factors that may have caused this latest drop in oil prices:

Uncertainty in Future Price Outlook 

Oil traders base their pricing as much on their perceptions of the oil market’s direction as they do on the oil’s value itself. If traders expect an increase in oil supply, they quickly lower their prices to undercut their competitors. Similarly, if oil traders have reason to believe demand will rise or oil supply will fall, they raise their prices accordingly.

In late 2018, a boom of American shale oil production coincided with an increase in Arabian drilling to counteract an unexpected thaw in sanctions imposed on Iran. This created fears of an oil supply glut, as American, Arabian, and Russian companies stepped up production to prevent their market share from going to Iranian producers. While quick decisions like these are impossible to fully predict, it’s important to monitor the political situation surrounding the oil trade (as well as other commodities markets that make up a particular supply chain) to best anticipate when to procure.

Slow-Changing Supply and Demand

Other markets can balance out changes in supply and demand fairly quickly. For example, the cotton industry can easily account for changes in demand because it’s based on an organic substance that’s relatively quick to produce. If cotton’s in high demand, farmers can simply plant more of it and expect to see the positive effects within the upcoming seasons.

The same cannot be said for oil suppliers. Oil is a more finite resource, and it can take over 10 years to develop new wells. Only very large price changes can rebalance the supply and demand for oil. For this reason, it’s harder for the supply of oil to adapt to changes in the market, which ironically makes its pricing more volatile. If oil traders anticipate that they may need to sit on vast stocks of oil while demand is low, they’ll price it more cheaply to move as much of it as possible. For this reason, it’s also important to monitor changes in the oil market so that you can buy oil when nobody else is.

How This Affects Us

Because UP&R products consist mainly of oil-based compounds, we’ve had to shake up our strategies to account for worldwide fluctuations. We take extra care to monitor the latest fluctuations in the oil market. Oil prices directly impact our ability to provide cost-efficient rubber products. Therefore, recent volatility in the oil market means that small- and medium-sized businesses have to devote more resources – one notably being the amount of time invested – to monitoring developing situations instead of focusing on their products and branding.

The Trade War With China

In early June, the Trump Administration imposed tariffs on over 5,700 products that the United States regularly imports from China. Although intended to bolster United States production, these tariffs perplexed American manufacturers who rely on Chinese-made parts. This latest round of tariffs particularly affected UP&R because Chinese manufacturers create many of the rubber and polymer components that we turn into finished products. UP&R is diligently working to protect its margins in a this time of trade war uncertainties.

Although the long-term effects of the trade war are yet to be seen, in the short term, many small- and medium-sized businesses have had to raise prices in response to price changes in their supply chain. While most of these price changes don’t affect consumer-oriented products, they have driven up costs particularly in the automotive and medical manufacturing fields. These industries rely heavily on rubber- and plastic-based products to build gaskets, seals, brake pads, and tires (for automotive applications) and extruded plastic tubing and device housings (for medical equipment). UP&R also has been forced to raise its prices as this industry operates on rzor thin margins, and any increased must be calculated into the selling price.

Quality Rubber Solutions at UP&R

Despite an uncertain trade climate and the roller coaster ride of determining when to buy oil, we at UP&R seek to provide the same high-caliber products and services that our customers have come to expect. We’re confident that we can weather this storm of economic factors without affecting our clients’ bottom line.

If you would like to learn more about our work or quality rubber and polymer solutions, contact us today.

National Manufacturing Day Serves as an Opportunity to Dive Deeper into 2018s Modern Manufacturing World


Inspiring a New Generation of Manufacturers

 

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 blogTwitter, and LinkedIn. For more information on our products and services, contact us today.

How New Chinese Tariffs Impact Small-Mid Sized Manufacturers

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 blogTwitter, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on current industry news and trends. For more information on our products and services, contact us today.

Universal Polymer & Rubber: Examining our Acquisition Strategy


Who Did We Recently Acquire?

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.

Look for more information on the many industries that we cover by following our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. We update them almost daily!

For any questions on our wide array of gaskets, moldings, extrusions, or company in general, simply contact us today. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

Learning & Evolution Continues in Manufacturing with Industry Trade Shows

Manufacturing at its Strongest Since 2004

The long-promised acceleration in US manufacturing may be just around the corner.

2017 closed strong. In fact, the numbers peg it as a favorable year of the likes of 2004 when the depredations of recession hadn’t tarnished profits.

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.

Finally, the American Concrete Pipe Association (ACPA) Annual Convention will be happening in San Diego over March 24th through 27th. We look forward to learning more about the technological improvements driving the industry.

 

Stay in Touch

If you’re like us and want to stay abreast of breakthroughs in the world of manufacturing, follow us on the blog, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Or you can contact us for a custom quote.

What’s in Store for the US Rubber Market? A Must-Read Overview

No Market Stands Alone:

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.

You can also request quotes here.

Manufacturing in America: Universal Polymer & Rubber

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.

Thank 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.

Help Celebrate National Manufacturing Day Friday, October 6th!

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.

Remember to read our informative blogs and to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date. Should you be interested in our many products or services, feel free to contact us directly by calling (440) 632-1691 or by requesting a quote.

Happy National Manufacturing Day 2017 from Universal Polymer & Rubber! And remember to support initiatives like STEM education, bridging the skills gap, and reshoring year round!

 

Small Manufacturing Updates Under the New Administration

With every presidential election comes change, and with a new administration in office both large and small business’ have been feeling the effects. The U.S. stock market saw a jolt of activity that hasn’t been seen since 2014. In August 2017 the Dow Jones set record highs, hitting an intraday peak of 22,179.11 on August 8th. Although the outlook seems optimistic, some of the numbers aren’t playing out as expected.

Although the Dow Jones is up, this is the first time numbers have been down in the manufacturing industry in a couple of years. As of July 2017, the monthly automotive light vehicle production in North America was off by about 13%. That’s a steep drop in an industry that has seen monthly increases (year on year) for two to three years. Here at Universal Polymer & Rubber, we understand how all industries can affect each other. For example, the housing industry has been flat and is down from just one year ago. All manufacturing companies that produce supplies for the housing industry will, in turn, feel the impact of the stagnant market. Although the outlook was good and indicators like the Dow Jones are up, small and medium sized manufacturing companies haven’t seen those positive effects.

What’s even more concerning is that the American manufacturing base sees more chaos than order. Take for example the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  40% of our automotive business, and a large percentage of original equipment parts and systems, comes from Mexico and Canada. A change of border control and / or a tariff will change the expectancy and function of our business and the millions of businesses like ours. It will also send cost models out of the window, in an industry that is extremely cost conscious, that negotiates over pennies as if life itself depended on it.

President-elect Donald Trump has also campaigned on getting rid of NAFTA, feeling America is getting the short end of the stick. Now, President Trump is in negotiations to better the deal for the U.S., although many don’t think Canada or Mexico will buy into much change, as it would hurt their own countries too.

Mexico may well consider President Trump’s dedication to building a wall between the two countries as counter-productive to their goals. So whether or not NAFTA survives is anyone’s guess at this point. Many small manufacturers are struggling with the uncertainty of the future and what it holds, and uncertainty is never good for manufacturers. Here at Universal Polymer & Rubber, we will continue to manufacture rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions and rubber moldings including compression moldings, transfer moldings and injection moldings for our customers, while we stay abreast of what’s impacting our industry.

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