When Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies said it intended to join the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers effective Jan. 1, it represented a big win for the young association. Since it split from the Rubber Manufacturers Association in late 2010, the ARPM has been looking to forge its own identity as a group to represent the needs of non-tire rubber product firms.
While the RMA focused its attention on Washington and a legislative agenda, that was a large cost burden for the former Elastomer Products Group, many of whom saw the large tire companies deriving far greater benefit. So ARPM Executive Director Troy Nix said he sees his group as being “more in the trenches,” helping its members deal with day-to-day issues.
The head of the ARPM also has focused on increasing its membership rolls. Nix would like to see the ARPM at 100 members; it's not there yet but is making steady progress.
About a year ago, the group accepted its 50th member. With about 15 new members signing on thus far in 2014, that puts the total at more than 60, Nix said.
Getting a commitment from a big company such as Freudenberg-NOK will help the ARPM on both of its initiatives: growth and work in the trenches. Many of the firms on the ARPM roster are smaller rubber companies, with a number of larger players sprinkled in, including such names as Gates, Parker Hannifin, Eaton Hydraulics Fluid Conveyance business, Veyance and Fenner-Dunlop.
With these big name firms showing confidence in the ARPM, it's more likely that rubber companies of all sizes will give it a look.
Freudenberg-NOK and the ARPM also will team up to form a technical standards committee for the seals and gaskets industry. The association sponsors two ISO global standards committees for hose and belting, but one does not exist for seals and gaskets.
Joe Walker, Freudenberg-NOK global director for advanced materials development, will lead the committee and recruitment of members to sit on it. He will recruit ARPM and non-ARPM members alike for the committee, giving the association a big opportunity to bring in new members.
What has been a steady growth path for the ARPM is even brighter with these new additions.