CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Philpott Rubber Co. purchased Urethane Products Industries Inc. in December 2012 to create Philpott Industrial Plastics Enterprises, it was looking to add a business that could help it expand into new segments.
It is paying off for the company, which has moved into several new markets thanks in part to the polyurethane operation, according to John White, general manager of the urethane division.
The company has diversified enough that it recently formed Philpott Solutions Group to oversee the rubber and urethane/plastics operations. Each business is a separate entity, he said, although all work closely with each other.
Its polyurethane operation casts custom urethane parts for a variety of companies and markets.
Philpott, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan operation, has three plants, one in Stow, Ohio; a second in Brunswick, Ohio; and a third in West Virginia for the energy and transportation sector. The parent company and rubber division are located in Brunswick; the cast urethane and plastics injection molding operation is in Stow.
It also has a business in China that oversees the company's manufacturing partners in the country.
Philpott is in the process of reshoring some manufacturing of products made in China and moving that production to its facilities in Brunswick and Stow, White said at the Polyurethane Manufacturers Association annual meeting and supplier showcase in Charlotte.
It wants to manufacture goods needed for the U.S., Canadian and Mexican markets at its Ohio locations. The prime reasons are that it is taking too long to transport products back to the U.S. from China, and quality issues have popped up and are not resolved easily in a timely manner, he said.
Because the urethane division is doing well, the firm is considering moving the business from its present 12,000-square-foot facility to a larger factory in Brunswick or Stow. It is also considering the possibility of adding another injection molding machine.
A final decision on both additions has not been made, White said.
White, who's been with the company for two years, has been working in the plastics industry for about 30 years. He sees some real growth opportunities in the cast urethane product manufacturing industry.
“We have a can-do attitude, and we're driven by good business sense,” he said. “We have hopes and plans to grow this side of our business.”
He said Philpott does things right and is customer-oriented. “We have a very good group of people who won't sell you something you don't want or can't use. We dig in and make sure the process and product will work for the customer.”
Philpott Rubber was formed in 1889 by John W. Philpott. After surviving the Depression and other recessions, the company grew to the point that by the 1950s, it was producing tailor-made items such as rubber helmets for workers at sand blasting foundries, along with rubber bands, gloves, gaskets, stoppers and other goods. Today, it makes custom molded rubber, plastic and urethane parts for the industrial, energy, commercial and military markets.