Category Archive: Manufacturing

Mixed Signals in US Manufacturing

Since the recession years of the late 2000s, the manufacturing industry in the US has been working to rebound.  In 2016, there are mixed signals and confusion over how the manufacturing industry is doing.  Articles and reports are coming out on a regular basis, talking about how this specific market is up, while another is down and even others that are staying flat.  Many of the stories seem to be written with a positive spin to show only positive numbers, looking for anyway to portray that manufacturing is as strong as it’s been in years.  At Universal Polymer we work with customers in a number of markets, and have seen firsthand the differences in the health of these markets.

Economic Uncertainty

A recent report from the Federal Reserve said that factory production dropped 0.4 percent in August, after an increase of 0.4 percent in July.  From a year ago factory output is also down 0.4 percent.  This after multiple reports showing strong gains in June and July this year that seemed to signal that the manufacturing industry was beginning to turn a corner.  Industrial output which includes areas like mines and utilities also dropped 0.4 percent.  U.S utility output fell 1.4 percent in August after 2 consecutive months of strong gains that reflected the seasonal use of air conditioning during the hot summer weather.  Mining production actually rose 1 percent, and is on a trend of increases after a long period of declines, but yet is still 9.3 percent lower than a year ago.

All of the numbers that come out in these reports seem to show that overall the industry is staying flat.  Headlines saying that manufacturing output stumbled or is slumping are using the most minimal changes in output to determine that.  Reporting every month does not give a truly accurate picture of the trends that are occurring in manufacturing if the difference is only 0.4 percent.  In a previous blog this year we explored how auto sales have been reported to be growing at the fastest pace since 2000 this year, while production numbers have been low and manufacturers have been facing scandals.  This is just another example of the mixed signals over the overall health of the auto industry, which may be considered strong or weak depending on the report you read that week.

At Universal Polymer we work with many different markets and industries and see the challenges that each is facing in today’s economy.  We work with our customers to find solutions to their rubber and plastic extrusions and rubber molding needs and are the only manufacturer of the world famous Gold Line Tarp Straps.  In an industry where the health and outlook seems to change every month, we are consistent in our desire to tackle new challenges and provide answers to our customer’s questions.

Top Quality Tarp Straps

The trucking industry is very important to the American economy as it allows for the easy transport of goods and materials over large distances.  To keep these items safe from weather and other environmental hazards, many trucking companies use tarps to cover the load they are hauling in their flatbeds.  A quality tarp strap is needed to keep those tarps in place, and UP&R is the place to get those straps.

The GOLDLINE ® strap from UP&R is a must have product for all road fleets.  Made in the USA in our Ohio manufacturing facility, the GOLDLINE ® strap is the number one brand of tarp straps for truckers and tarp strap users.   Composed of ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber, this strap has exceptional strength, durability and resistance to environmental factors such as UV radiation and ozone.  The straps are available in sizes of 10”, 15”, 21”, 31”, and 41” and made for the transportation, recreational vehicle, and marine industries.

GOLDLINE and SILVERLINE tarp strapsUP&R also offers the SILVERLINE ® brand of tarp straps as an alternative product.  These straps are made of natural rubber and are popular in northern areas as well as Canada, because even in frigid conditions they remain flexible.  Advantages of these straps include a high initial strength and UV inhibitors, but a shorter life span than GOLDLINE ® straps.   The S hooks for both brands are also manufactured in the USA, as UP&R has the single-source, in-house manufacturing capabilities that cannot be matched by any other tarp strap manufacturer.

UP&R offers additional products including rubber tie downs, plastic pipe gaskets, and cast iron coupling gaskets.  Capabilities also include the manufacturing of rubber molded parts, rubber extruded parts and plastic extruded parts for the transportation and cargo control market, construction and pipe manufacturers market, and the automotive OE supply chain market.  Take a look at our website for all our products and services.


That manufacturing is perhaps the most important sector of the US where regulating the economy and bringing in healthy profits is concerned is not a myth or a secret. Whenever manufacturing has taken a hit, so have the power and the stability of the nation.

Post the recession years of 2008-2009, manufacturing has seen a resurgence of sorts. New jobs are opening up, reshoring is fast becoming a trend and many major producers are choosing the United States as the manufacturing stronghold for its savvy and empowered millennial population of buyers.

There is however another aspect of this revival that is less focused upon but equally important for the sustainability of the manufacturing boom. It is the existing and rapidly widening skill gap crippling the sector.


According to the data supplied by the Manufacturing Institute and the Deloitte Skill Gap Study, 84% of executives agree that there is a very real talent shortage in the manufacturing sector which is going to become more pronounced as the experienced Baby Boomers gradually retire leaving vacant positions that can’t be filled by the Gen Xers alone.

Millennials are interested in STEM careers but their enthusiasm is restricted to the cubicle and desk jobs of computer engineers and software programmers.

It currently takes more than 70 days to recruit the replacement of a skilled production worker and 94 days to hire an on-field researcher or scientist. Despite higher pays and best efforts, 6 out of 10 positions in the manufacturing realm remain vacant. This severely affects the ability of the manufacturing sector to support itself and the projected growth over the next decade. US may lag behind simply because it doesn’t have the manpower necessary to make the most of the opportunities coming its way on the back of the infrastructural improvements that have been initiated.


For manufacturers and producers large and small this may mean making do with employees who are not equipped to handle a role of importance. This can definitely impact the bottom-line performance and in time inculcate mediocrity in products, research and development and client service. The need of the moment is a crusade to banish the misconceptions and misperceptions that plague manufacturing.


mfgdayIt has been found that students who are familiar with the challenges, exciting advancements and lucrative salaries of manufacturing positions are twice as likely to consider it as a career. Through open house events, seminars, conducted factory and plant tours and accurate estimations of the growth in compensation and expansion potential of manufacturing, the younger generation can be conditioned into accepting this sector as ‘rewarding’ and ‘worth a try’.

If you participate wholeheartedly and rope in educators, community influencers and decision makers, you might be successful in showing what the manufacturing of 2015 is and what it isn’t. This lucid communication breaks down preconceived notions and at least shows prospective employees the benefits for what they are.

Universal Polymer is an avid supporter of Manufacturing Day and will celebrate 2nd October with a number of events registered on

Ohio Manufacturing

The rebound in manufacturing since the Great Recession began in 2009 has been incredible, and it has helped to spur on our country’s economic recovery. Throughout the United States, some states are more involved in the manufacturing sector than others. Here in Ohio, we are one of the top five states in the country in regards to manufacturing, meaning our state is one of the leaders in the economic recovery of our country. Here are ten facts you should know about manufacturing in Ohio:

  1. In 2013, Ohio had a manufacturing output of $99.83 billion of goods, the fourth-largest output in the nation. Ohio has been in the top five by manufacturing output every year since 2008.
  2. This output accounts for 17.66% of the total gross state output.
  3. If Ohio’s manufacturing sector was its own country, it would rank 64th in the world, with a greater output than countries like Belarus, Sri Lanka, and many more.
  4. Manufacturing employed over 682,600 people in 2014, the third most of any state.
  5. Since 2009, Ohio has added over 68,000 new manufacturing jobs.
  6. Manufacturing jobs in Ohio pay well – while the average annual compensation for all non-farm employment was $46,654 annually in 2014, for manufacturing, the average compensation was $69,951.
  7. Ohio is home to numerous large manufacturing companies – Procter & Gamble, Marathon Petroleum, Sherwin-William, AK Steel, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, and Crown Equipment are just a few that have headquarters in the state.
  8. All together, including us here at Universal Polymer, there were 13,045 manufacturing firms in Ohio as of 2012.
  9. Ohio’s top manufacturing industries are transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, food and manufacturing, and plastics and rubber products, in that order.
  10. From 2009 through 2013, Ohio ranked either first or second every year in regards to manufacturing growth of sites that created 50 jobs, had 20,000 square feet or more of manufacturing space, or had over $1 million in investments.

As you can see, Ohio is an extremely successful and important state when it comes to manufacturing, and at Universal Polymer and Rubber, we are extremely proud to be part of it. We look forward to Ohio continuing to be a national powerhouse in the manufacturing sector. If you want to know more about Ohio manufacturing or you are interested in being part of it through a career in manufacturing, get in touch with us or The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association at

How Chinese Holidays Impact US Business and Manufacturing

Have you ever considered how Chinese holidays impact US business and manufacturing?

Since 2002, several worker holidays have been added to the Chinese work calendar. As China does so much business with the US and Europe, the country has added a one to two-day holiday over Christmas.

In addition, China also has national holidays that do not occur in the US. Two examples are China’s May Day on May 1 and the Dragon Boat Festival on June 20-22, 2015.

Chinese holidays impact US manufacturing because of the large amount of trade between the two countries, which is growing in the area of manufacturing. For this reason, US manufacturers doing business in China need to be aware of the holidays there.

US manufacturers can be most efficient by planning their work schedules around Chinese holidays when the overseas businesses will not be open. American manufacturers also need to keep in mind that holidays sometimes change. An example is Chinese New Year (CNY), which is based on the Lunar Calendar so exact dates change year to year.

Whether you are a customer or vendor, take note of Chinese New Year. It is part of the Chinese celebration that extends from February 18 to 24 this year. The Chinese New Year is traditionally a family time similar to US Christmas. A worker usually requires 2-3 days of travel time to get home; expect many Chinese workers to take extended February leave of 7-8 days.

Due to Chinese New Year closures, your US business will not receive its usual number of shipments from China. Plan at least two months ahead for any orders you need to fill in February and March. Shipping ports will close beginning February 18 and usually reopen within 5-7 days.

Also, prepare for delayed or potentially lower-quality shipments than you normally receive from China following CNY. Workers may take longer leave than expected, decide to quit or operate at reduced capacity when they return to the manufacturing plant as they are still in holiday mode.