PHOENIX—Price Rubber Co. doesn't try to be what it's not.
It concentrates on what it does best: manufacturing heavy black conveyor belting, primarily for the aggregate, sand and gravel, and coal industries, President Jerry Marvel said.
Because of that focus, to a great extent Price Rubber has been able to stay in the black, even in the most difficult times, like the recent recession, he said.
The company likes to keep it simple and not spread itself too thin, expand where it's strong and remain a solid player in that segment, Marvel said at the annual NIBA conference, held Sept. 18-21 in Phoenix.
That philosophy can pay off in the long run, according to the long-time industry veteran. For instance, Montgomery, Ala.-based Price Rubber has a good reputation across-the-board for quality and service in the mining industry. That results in orders, he said.
And as 2010 emerged, Price Rubber's business improved over 2009, especially in the coal industry, he said.
Marvel figures the coal market will continue to get better, for at least awhile. He also believes the future is good for the company because it has a strong financial foundation and a good reputation in the marketplace.
Price Rubber is especially strong in manufacturing belts to specified width and length, he said, which fits nicely with the primary industries it serves.
Currently, while things are improving in the coal and other parts of the mining market, he said, the aggregate segment has yet to come back and it may be some time before it does.
“Right now, aggregate is primarily serving roads, which is a smaller part of the business, and construction is way off,” he said. “It's going to be a long time before the housing market improves,” which means the aggregate market could be in trouble for awhile.
“We've got a lot of big aggregate producers who are just not working full time as they have in years past,” the 87-year-old executive said. On top of that, companies aren't expanding because they're afraid of the economy, he said.
Price Rubber's own capabilities did grow last year when it pulled a press out of mothballs, added new cylinders, refurbished it and got it operating again. The press produces 72-inch wide belts, Marvel said, and fills a need for both the company and customers.
One area the firm shies away from is the commodity sector. “We chose not to be involved as much as we used to in the commodity belt market à because it has been impacted by imports,” he said. “We don't compete with wallpaper belts made overseas.”