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Mechanical Rubber expands base, reach

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WARWICK, N.Y.—Mechanical Rubber Products Co. long has been known for its expertise in producing products for the military, defense and aerospace industries but had been looking for a way to branch out.

It will get that opportunity with its recent purchase of Prestige Rubber Manufacturing Corp. The company bought Prestige from owner and President Stephen Kelley for an undisclosed amount to expand its reach, product base and ability to serve its customers in a variety of industries.

Based in Fairfield, N.J., Prestige manufactures mandrel-cured wrapped rubber tubing and rubber expansion joints for coupling and reduction of vibration. Its products—made with pure gum, natural rubber, EPDM, neoprene, Teflon and a variety of other materials—are produced for original equipment manufacturers, distributors and end users spread across North America and Europe.

Prestige serves the industrial, commercial, pharmaceutical and military industries. Both Mechanical Rubber and Prestige are primarily contract manufacturers.

The asset acquisition includes extrusion dies, mandrels, compounds, extrusion joint forms, customer order records and machinery, according to Cedric Glasper, president and CEO of Mechanical Rubber.

Mechanical Rubber has retained Kelley, Glasper said, and the acquisition will free him up to handle national sales. Kelley purchased the custom product business in 2004 from Ben Dispute and Bruce Talofa.

Since then, Prestige has specialized in serving companies in niche markets. Kelley has more than 20 years of experience in the rubber product industry and six years experience in the aerospace sector.

Most other members of the small but experienced Prestige work force will remain with the company. The Prestige name will be retained for the expansion joint business.

Glasper said Warwick-based Mechanical Rubber, established in 1941, did not purchase the Prestige factory in Fairfield but is leasing a portion of it to continue handling production of expansion joints. All other machinery and production is being moved to the company's 54,000-sq.-ft. plant in New York.

Up until it bought Prestige, the company had been using about 48,000 square feet of the facility, he said, so it has had no difficulties adding the additional machinery.

“We at Mechanical Rubber believe that increasing our extrusion portfolio as well as adding rubber extrusion joints would expand our capabilities to offer these products to our HVAC, oil and gas, material handling, and military/defense customers as currently provided to our aerospace customers,” Glasper said.

He said that the legacy established by Prestige Rubber enhances the firm's capabilities and expertise. About 50 to 60 percent of Mechanical Rubber's business is in aerospace and defense products, and the purchase significantly improves the commercial side of the firm's operation.

Mechanical Rubber's purchase of Prestige came in a round-about way. “We were looking to strengthen our extrusion operation ... and Prestige was scrapping some extrusion equipment,” Glasper said. So he and Kelley began discussing the sale of machinery and eventually those talks led to the possible sale of the company.

“We thought we could improve our sales force with Steve Kelley on board,” Glasper said. “We knew it would improve our revenue stream in the commercial market and give us additional equipment. But the carrot was the expansion joint business.”

Talks progressed, and they were able to work out a deal that was beneficial to all parties involved, he said.