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Record growth spurs Passaic to refurbish facility

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Photo by RPN photo by Mike McNulty Jeff Leach (left) and James Leach man Passaic's booth during the expo portion of the NIBA conference.

Passaic Rubber Co. has added machinery and significantly upgraded its operation as it rides a wave of unprecedented growth.

The company saw overall sales shoot up 33 percent in 2012, and this year revenues have risen another 40 percent, according to Jeff Leach, chairman and chief operating officer.

Earlier this year, Passaic experienced the first $1 million production month in its history. "That's product out the door," he said.

That, in part, has led to the major changes at the firm's Wayne, N.J., headquarters and plant. It has been adding new equipment since January at a cost of about $750,000. And the company is refurbishing the 70,000-sq.-ft. facility, a project that involves new walls, carpeting, furniture and equipment throughout the building.

Its purchases included machinery that will be used in new markets, Leach said at the NIBA—The Belting Association conference, held Sept. 12-15 in San Antonio. All the firm's customers will benefit from the upgraded operation in terms of product quality and service, he said.

Passaic manufactures endless belts, rubber-covered rollers and calendered goods, including rubber roof flashing and waterproofing membranes. The company also is a contract manufacturer of goods for a number of large companies. It takes products from concept to design, prototype and production, in many cases serving as the manufacturing arm for some of the businesses.

Leach said the agriculture and construction industries have been strong, and Passaic's roller and endless belting units, in particular, are prospering. "We've come out with a number of new products, and that's helped quite a bit," he said.

"Business is shifting from smaller to larger orders and larger companies," Leach said. "And we still have the mom and pop companies we serve. Our company was built on smaller orders, and we never want to lose those customers."

Passaic has received numerous requests for new product development—an area where it thrives—in the last two years, he said. "The equipment we purchased gives us a better competitive edge for the markets we cover.

"We're now much more efficient, and we can hold more tolerances. People want products faster today than previously ... and we now have the equipment and the personnel to handle those requests."

A key to Passaic's two-year growth spurt has been the efforts of Passaic co-owner J.D. Mathey, president and CEO, to find and bring in new business to the 94-year-old company, Leach said. "He's brought some great opportunities and ideas to the table."

Mathey and Leach are fourth-generation owners of the company.

Despite all the gains Passaic has made in the last two years, "we still stay focused on what we do best, and we will continue to focus on what got us here," according to Leach.

But he said the firm welcomes the new challenges that have come its way and—with the machinery it has added and a solid, experienced work force—is well positioned to handle virtually any project from any size company.