While the existing 50 or so UBR employees are secure in their jobs and excited for the transition, Smith said, the overall labor market continues to pose a problem.
"This is easily our No. 1 problem," Engelsmann said of hiring and retention.
As demand skyrockets in the food and packaging and logistics markets for lightweight belting, businesses like Beltservice and UBR need to be fully staffed to meet this spike.
"We are still meeting customer demand," Engelsmann said. "Both businesses are doing very well."
Like many industries, supply line challenges are present in the belting space as well. But there is strength in numbers, and shared inventories between UBR and Beltservice should allay some supply line difficulties.
"There are similar issues for off-shore suppliers," Smith said. "But with this acquisition, we are now able to benefit from shared inventories.
"I say bring it on—we're good. We have a strong, mature customer base that is more than willing to work with us on alternatives. If they can't get 'x,' they take 'y.' That is one of the big advantages in placing a premium on customer relationships."
The merger will allow Beltservice to leverage UBR's unique fabricating capabilities in the lightweight belting space, namely via UBR's machines and equipment and custom specification capabilities, Engelsmann said.
"They have a tremendous amount of know-how—their facility is more than double the space for a product line. They have great rotary slitter and longitudinal press as well as welding machines. Most importantly, they have a dedicated, well-trained employee base and they are super responsive to customers.
"They can turn things around quickly."
Engelsmann said the timing was right for both businesses with the acquisition.
"We have experienced very strong growth, double-digit growth, over the last five years," Smith said. "To continue this growth pattern, to take advantage of opportunities, this made a lot of sense to do this now."
Smith added he expects demand for belting in the food industry to continue to rise, and Engelsmann said the combined company will continue to place a premium on industrial distribution.
"We are very bullish on industry in the U.S. right now," Engelsmann said. "There is potential for on-shoring of manufacturing once again and we expect that markets will continue to be strong."
Founded by George Engelsmann in 1892, the Missouri Belting Co. produced leather conveyor belts for the food and packing industry, namely meatpacking, a dominant market in St. Louis at the turn of the century.
By 1921, William H. Engelsmann, George's son, joined the business, working for the company until 1969.
At that point, William sold his interest and formed a new company—the beginning of Beltservice Corp.
Representative of strength and speed, a running cougar became the new Beltservice logo—a fitting logo now for UBR as well, with its quick order turnaround time.
Over the coming decades, Beltservice added subsidiary conveyor belting companies in Mexico and Canada, and established eight different locations in the U.S. that incorporated automation and the ability to make custom-cut parts.
Plant modernizations continue to this day, Engelsmann said.
Now in its fourth generation of family leadership, Dick Engelsmann serves as chairman at Beltservice, Tom Acker is CEO and Ken Engelsmann is president.
As for UBR, Vernon Smith serves as president; his son, Jim Smith, serves as vice president and Linda Berish is vice president of finance.
"Vernon Smith is a true leader in the industry, his insights are very valuable and we are thrilled to be joining our efforts with UBR," Engelsmann said. "UBR is a great fit because they believe as we do in a sales channel that supports distributors rather than competes with them. This acquisition is about bringing two great companies together to better serve customers."
Smith added that "there is a lot of excitement at UBR right now."
"From the UBR side, everyone here is really excited to move forward and watch the business grow at a rate that we know it can grow," he said.