Category Archive: Manufacturing Businesses
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.
Every application that requires a tarp strap has specific demands and requirements to fulfill. At Universal Polymer & Rubber, we offer three levels of tarp straps to correspond with your specifications: GOLDLINE ®, standard mid-range line, and retail line.
Each of our tarp strap levels varies in strength and characteristics for trucking, boating, recreational outdoor pursuits, and more. A note that all tarp straps are intended for use as tension devices for tarpaulins; they are not made to bear or support weight, or be used as cargo control.
Here is a brief guide to UP&R’s three levels of tarp straps to help you understand their capabilities:
GOLDLINE ® represents our top-of-the-line, premier tarp strap, particularly when it comes to strength and durability. Our GOLDLINE ® straps have been continually developing and improving since the early 1970s, and they are now a staple within the U.S. transportation industry.
UP&R’s proprietary rubber compound and manufacturing process that produce GOLDLINE® straps make for a high-strength, dependable tarp strap with excellent waterproofing capabilities. These inherent qualities make it ideal for the trucking industry, where reliability and unparalleled service are a must for heavy, long-term use.
Standard Mid-Range Line
Transportation, marine and boating, and other applications with less stringent requirements tarp strap will find a great fit in UP&R’s mid-range line of straps.
The mid-range level of tarp straps is available in a variety of lower price points, and includes our trademarked SILVERLINE ELITE® to AMERIPRIDE® straps. They are ideally suited for moderate usage with the durability to hold tarps down without issue. UP&R mid-range straps are our more cost-effective solutions and offer great performance.
Our retail line of tarp straps is ideal for recreational tarpaulin users. These straps are our slimmest straps and are better suited for applications that do not require heavy duty use, such as covering campfire pits or shielding boats from the elements at the dock or on open waters.
Our retail line also works well for recreational weekend expeditions or hobbies that call for a tarp, and are available at affordable price points.
The Strap for Your Application
For almost half a century, Universal Polymer & Rubber has helped customers find the right tarp strap for their application’s requirements. Whether it’s a heavy-duty tarp strap for constant use or an affordable option for less stringent demands, the UP&R team is committed to providing you with first-rate service, timeliness, and quality every single time.
To learn more about our tarp solutions and find a tarp strap that works best for your needs, contact us today.
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 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.
What is WEFTEC?
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:
- Collection Systems
- Energy Conservation and Management
- Membrane Technologies
- Plant Operation and Treatment
- Residuals & Biosolids
- Utility Management
- Water Reuse/Recycling
- Water Quality & Watershed Management
- Conference: September 29 – October 3, 2018
- Exhibition: October 1 – 3, 2018
- Hours: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm, daily
Featured at the Conference: What UP&R Does/Who We Serve
- Chemicals/Chemical Handling Equipment -> Polymers
- Coatings, Sealants, and Corrosion -> Gaskets, Grouts, Sealants
- Pipe/Collection Systems -> Manholes, Pipes – Plastic PVC/CPVC
- Process Equipment/Treatment Systems –> Chemical/Polymer Feed Equipment, Industrial Doors
- Services -> Condition Assessment, Manhole Rehabilitation, Pipelines
- Tanks -> Doors/Hatches, Covers/Domes, Plastics
Trade Show Takeaways We Apply to Our Business
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.
Contact Our Friendly Staff at UP&R!
Find more information on the water industries that we serve by reading our blog, and visiting both our Twitter and LinkedIn pages!
Interested in discussing our water quality control capabilities? We’re happy to do so when you contact us today. We look forward to speaking with you soon!
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!