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New leadership revitalizes once-struggling ANR

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CEREDO, W.Va.—When American National Rubber Inc. closed in late 2008, no one could have expected the breath of life that happened in the aftermath.

American National was sold in two parts in late 2008, with Delta Partners L.L.C. purchasing the assets of ANR's closed-cell sponge rubber business, including its 100,000-sq.-ft. Ceredo facility. FabSol L.L.C. acquired ANR's automotive rubber fabrication site in Cadiz, Ky.

Before selling, ANR battled difficulties, including heavy debt and high operating costs during a tough economic climate.

On Dec. 15, 2008, ANR Partners Inc. (doing business as American National Rubber) was formed, and within 60 days the company was both cash positive and profitable, said Doug Kinney, managing partner and principal for Delta Partners.

Since then, under the leadership of Kevin Holderby—who serves as president and Chief Operating Officer—ANR continues to thrive in all areas, Kinney said, including posting revenue and profits in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

“We started it, sort of, from scratch,” he added.

Since purchasing the company, Kinney said it has had a steady 3 to 5 percent growth per year in both revenues and profit margin.

Key executives

According to Kinney, usually “the former management team to a large extent” has played a key role in any distressed company.

“We typically do not continue with any of the management team that existed before we take over,” Kinney said.

Holderby was in the quality department at ANR during the takeover.

He was not a key executive, but had a tremendous amount of product knowledge and passion for the product, Kinney added, calling him a bright individual.

“He was instrumental with us, in the early days, (to) get the plant up and running,” Kinney said.

Once Holderby became president and CEO, the company put in place the rest of the executives.

Christopher Smith currently serves as chief chemist. Smith was with ANR before Delta Partners bought it.

“(He) has really helped us with formulation and the recipes and is very instrumental in increasing our yield,” Kinney said.

Tim Webb was named vice president of sales for specialty and recycled rubber products.

“Tim is a tremendous sales person. He knows the rubber industry inside and out,” Kinney said.

Chuck Maziasz and Randy Millwood of Decarlo Associates are former sales agents for Armacell, L.L.C. and elected to join the ANR team.

Kinney said the group has brought a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise to the organization.

The closed cell sponge rubber industry is probably one of the most physically and mentally demanding processes that he has witnessed, he said, and to resurrect the company as Holderby has is “nothing short of amazing.”

He added that Holderby has created an incredible team to move forward with.

Selling scrap

Besides having an impressive staff, ANR has found success in selling its scrap instead of taking it to a landfill. Up until a year ago, American National Rubber would generate scrap, then pay to have it taken to a landfill.

The company has put “in an operation that allows us to grind up the ... scrap and rebond it,” according to Kinney.

The scrap is rebonded with a urethane binder that can be formed into different shapes, such as into a full bun or be cut down into different shapes, strips or rolls.

“So it's great, certainly for the Earth, because we're not dumping rubber into the landfill,” he said.

“And it's great for our profit margin because this is scrap that we would normally be throwing it away.”

The process is primarily being utilized by the construction industry, Kinney said, which uses it for insulation.

ANR has gotten great feedback for the product.

“Everybody likes to both produce and purchase and make use of, I guess you would call, a "green product' that otherwise would have been sent to the landfill,” Kinney said.

ANR intends to “be the best producer of closed cell sponge rubber in the world,” he said.

“We're investing in the business in the critical areas of production that will keep us ... ahead of the curve, in terms of technology and will continue to add to the management team as needed to reach that goal: To be the best supplier in the industry.”