Pardon the football analogy, but R.L. Hudson & Co. is pulling a reverse with Grand River Rubber & Plastics Co.
Rather than shift rubber goods production to China, which circumstances are forcing many North American companies to do, R.L. Hudson-essentially a marketer and distributor in the U.S. of rubber goods made abroad-is becoming an American manufacturer for the first time by acquiring Grand River.
R.L. Hudson has fostered an innovative business plan for a number of years, one based on the reality of the marketplace.
Founded in 1980 by Rick Hudson, the firm designs and distributes molded rubber and plastic components, hose, seals and O-rings that are produced for it at factories in lower-cost countries.
The company does compound development and testing at a lab at its suburban Tulsa, Okla., headquarters. It has a strong reputation for material and design expertise.
In Ashtabula, Ohio, Grand River has operated for years as a traditional American manufacturer, producing lathe-cut seals, extruded rubber products and drive belts. Traditional with a couple of twists: Under co-owners Richard Selip and Joseph Misinec, the company lives up to its credo of being a service-oriented company that delivers value to its customers and offers opportunity to its employees in a safe work environment. Living that philosophy won Selip the 1997 Rubber Industry Executive of the Year award, as chosen by this publication's editors.
The deal with R.L. Hudson, expected to close on or before Jan. 31, was serendipitous. Selip and Misinec, neither of whom has family that want to take over Grand River, sought a partner who shares their values. R.L. Hudson was looking for a U.S. manufacturing base.
Now Grand River, which already exports some products to China, will have an even bigger opportunity to do so through R.L. Hudson's expertise. And no changes are planned in the management or work force at either company, which elicited positive comments from the United Steelworkers local at the Ashtabula factory.
The smart money is on these players to succeed.