U.S. Rubber Corp. is expanding its rubber conveyor belt manufacturing base with the addition of a double-deck press at its Conroe, Texas, plant to satisfy present and future belt demand.
It's also looking to add more distributors to branch out to new areas, especially on the East Coast, according to Raymond Borup, U.S. Rubber's national sales and marketing manager.
Borup, who'd been in the belting business for 32 years and was the first president of NIBA representing a manufacturer rather than a distributor, said the new double-deck press was needed “to give us more capacity, which is what we need right now and in the future as we service more customers.”
The company has started assembling the machinery and should begin producing belts on it by January or February. The 250,000-sq.-ft. Conroe facility has four single-deck presses, he said, so the double-deck machinery will significantly boost the firm's output capabilities.
The firm is getting strong response from potential customers as Borup travels into geographical areas, he said. U.S. Rubber focuses heavily on the power generation industry, but it also services several other segments, including aggregate, pulp and paper, grain, wood, petroleum, coke handling and cement. The manufacturer is stronger in the South and West than it is in the East.
It also has been looking more at the mining industry for possible inroads, Borup said. “We don't do much coal mining right now, but I think we'll look at that down the line.”
At the same time, he has been working closely with the firm's distributors and meeting others not currently in the fold in hopes of expanding the heavy duty conveyor belt manufacturer's reach, he said at the NIBA conference.
“We're signing up distributors we didn't have before,” according to Borup. He said U.S. Rubber believes in remaining loyal to its distributors, rather than buying service and distribution operations around the country and competing with its distribution network.
“We want to branch out with our distributors,” he said. “We want to support them, not take away their business by distributing our own products.”
U.S. Rubber is making the moves because it can see several opportunities for growth and it wants to take advantage of them, he said.
Like most belt manufacturing companies, U.S. Rubber, which has been operating out of Conroe for 25 years, emerged from a difficult 2009 relatively unscathed, considering the dismal economic conditions manufacturers had to endure last year.
“We're back to where we were two years ago, so business has improved quite a bit for us,” Borup said.
U.S. Rubber specializes in standard and made-to-order heavy duty belts, with about 80 percent of its belts custom ordered, and has a full research and development operation along with the factory in Conroe. The company distributes its belting across the U.S. and worldwide.