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Letter to editor: Industry must work to change perception

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No, it's not just a little gasket. No, it's not just a simple seal, a belt, a grommet, a cushion. If these were just trivial components, the rubber industry wouldn't be needed by the major original equipment manufacturers of such sectors as the automotive industry, the appliances sector or the aerospace market.

Although many who purchase rubber products might not understand the technology, the science and the investment that goes into making these parts, the majority of industry professionals and business leaders in the rubber products world must begin to educate customers on how innovations in our industry truly affect their day-to-day life.

As a small example, automotive warranties proving full service up to 100,000 miles on the power train were non-existent 20 years ago. However, due to new developments in sealing and gasket technology, what was impossible only two decades ago is now commonplace. The same can be said for nearly every product in every industry that exists today; advancements in rubber technology have positively impacted nearly every industry sector.

The need for everyone in our industry to rise to the challenge to change the perception about what we provide to our customers is imperative. Sales professionals must help to educate purchasing agents about the complexity of rubber material formulations and the human capital required to create those recipes.

Business leaders must educate up the supply chain about capital investments and the innovation required to run businesses today. Rubber products manufacturers are not just commodity suppliers; not just anyone can make the products our industry provides.

The ARPM is leading the charge to change the perception in the rubber marketplace. The association, acting as the voice for the industry, is working to ensure that our industry is not taken for granted.

As with all perception altering initiatives, one cannot do it alone. The industry must work together to send the message to the customers it services. No matter the size of your business, we all must educate those who purchase products.

Take just a moment to highlight part of your business that is unique to those who you serve. Help them to understand that your company is part of a small network of companies that are able to provide what they need in order to sustain their own companies and industry sectors.

For more information about our efforts to educate customers and to join the movement to change the perception in the marketplace contact Letha Keslar, managing director of ARPM, at, or at 317-863-4072.

Letha Keslar
Managing director, Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers