(From the July 11, 2011, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
MANTUA, Ohio—Mantaline Corp. has significantly expanded its range of capabilities in a series of moves that have propelled it up the ladder as a producer of goods for the automotive and truck industries.
The contract manufacturer of seals, gaskets, sponges and dense parts made from a variety of rubber materials recently completed a six-part corporate strategy plan, conceived in 2009, that has qualified it as a Tier 1 supplier to the heavy truck segment and a Tier 2 product maker for the automotive industry.
That's a major jump from its former status as a regional supplier with a narrow range of capabilities, said Tom Mlinar, vice president of business development.
The plan “is still being implemented in that there is a broad range of associated technologies that Mantaline intends to put in place,” he said. “We are engaged in a never-ending process of improvement and calculated expansion.”
But successful completion of the original initiatives has enabled Mantaline to attract new business and receive additional business from current customers, he said.
Implementation of the program positions Mantaline as the engineering and manufacturing resource for the firm's current and targeted customers, according to Bob Zehner, manager of business development.
Each point in the new strategy program expanded the Mantua-based firm's capabilities to place it within the performance expectations of customers, Zehner said. The plan's six initiatives are:
— Development of process technology associated with extruding EPDM or thermoplastic elastomers onto a solid metal core substrate.
— Creation of a flocking process, which includes a textured surface to protect glass and enable moving components, such as windows, to be sealed without damage.
— Perfecting the application of high technology/high performance coatings that—although difficult to apply, expensive and having a short shelf life—the firm's engineers created to meet a broad range of customer requirements.
— After fortifying its secondary operations to deliver strict RMA Class 1 tolerances, development of precise notching, trimming and advanced splicing technology specified by the automotive and heavy truck industries to meet those strict tolerances. The company's splicing technology with super-thin polyethylene or EPDM materials utilizes techniques originated in Europe.
— Increasing the company's palette of materials with thermoplastic elastomers, which helps customers replace single-use rubber with recyclable materials. Not every application can be converted, Mantaline said, but its engineers are skilled at knowing the difference and how to steer companies in the right direction.
— Development and set-up of a consortium of similar-sized supply businesses located throughout the world to allow companies to expand their reach into India or Europe with the knowledge that their goods will be made as effectively, professionally and efficiently as they are in North America, the firm said.
By creating the six-point program, “our company moved from a local, regional business across a disparate and broad range of industries to a keen focus on the automotive and heavy truck industries (at the Tier 1 and 2 levels) as well as associated industries that require the same level of technology,” such as wind turbine and medical, according to Mlinar.
In addition, he said, Mantaline can support its customers in Asia through its association with Roop Polymers and in Europe via ties with Secil Kaucuk in Turkey. “We can be seamless if that is what a customer wishes.”
Mantaline developed the strategic plan, and is continuing to add to it, because it wanted to remain competitive and expand its business despite a sluggish U.S. economy, Mlinar said.
Its goal was and is to build the company's customer base while expanding its market share. For instance, he said, completion of its strategic plan enabled the firm to expand its heavy truck portfolio.
It now supplies 125 individual and specific parts to the four primary heavy truck manufacturers in North America.
“We've received a strong response from our existing customers and attracted a strong new customer base,” said Mlinar. “Our revenue will grow by more than 25 percent in fiscal year 2012 on a rich mix of new business.”
He said each of the initiatives provides the company with something new to offer its customers and attract new ones.
Mantaline's extrusion, compression molding, injection molding and finishing capabilities include processes for a wide range of elastomeric materials: EPDM rubber, nitrile rubber, neoprene rubber, HNBR rubber, silicone, thermoplastics and vulcanizates, polyacrylate and fluoroelastomer.
The company designs, prototypes, validates and manufactures sealing systems and components for all vehicles as well as various industrial systems.