ASHTABULA, Ohio (Sept. 29, 2009)—Grand River Rubber & Plastics Co. has taken a number of hard hits during the past several months, primarily because of poor economic conditions, but has bounced back nicely.
The extruder of custom lathe-cut washers and gaskets endured an extremely rough period during the latter part of 2008 and laid off about 60 workers from its work force of about 200 at the time, according to President Richard Selip.
The firm didn't waver, dug in, worked hard and began rebounding in the second quarter of 2009, he said.
Business grew enough that the firm recently recalled every worker who wanted to return. It now has a work force of about 185; it lost the remainder of its employees through attrition, he said. In fact, it had to hire three new employees to help handle the increased work load.
“We've had a good second quarter and third quarter,” Selip said. Sales were down in July and August from those months last year, but both were very strong months in 2008, so the company feels pretty good about its most recent results.
“We did suffer the effects of a poor economy but we do plan on making hay when the sun shines,” he said. “We are going to fight as hard as we have to survive and grow.”
It's fortunate, he said, that the company over the last few years has found ways to improve its operation, productivity, product quality and overall services to customers. The firm added manufacturing space and machinery in the last six years to make it a more diversified and efficient operation.
One big plus for Grand River is that it does not have a direct automotive business presence to worry about. It does have a slice of the construction industry, which is going through a down cycle, but the firm also serves non-automotive transportation, appliance, plumbing and other segments.
The company, which was formed in 1976 with the acquisition of the Ashtabula Division and the lathe-cut gasket and extruded goods plant of Geneva Rubber Co., extrudes lathe-cut washers and gaskets and produces a line of tubular products. It features a broad range of hoses, most made from silicones, fluorosilicones and fluoroelastomers.
Grand River also custom-compounds a variety of other materials, including neoprene, polyisoprene, nitrile, styrene butadiene, EPDM and natural rubber. It uses proprietary technology that allows it to automate and streamline the process, providing a cost advantage over competitors, the company said.