STAPLES, Minn.—Stern Rubber Co. isn't afraid to try new things, and it is paying off with more business.
The firm recently celebrated the grand opening of a new 12,000-sq.-ft. addition to its manufacturing facility in Staples, increasing the size of the building to 50,000 square feet with 65 employees.
It also has added three new pieces of equipment since the addition opened—a Normec splicing press, a fourth Desma Injection Press and 3.5 inch NRM Vacuum Extruder.
In total, President Bob Jackson said the firm has spent about $1.45 million on the new expansion and the additional equipment.
“We were drastically out of room,” Jackson said. “We needed to buy some more injection presses, and we didn't have anywhere to put them. We also needed more warehouse space because we were completely out of warehouse room.”
The company used the expansion as an opportunity to improve its process flow. Jackson said the firm's deflashing and trimming process had been in the center of the building as opposed to the end because of the way the plant has evolved. The executive estimates the main building has been expanded six times since it was established in 1973.
Stern Rubber operates three facilities—its main building and an extruding plant both located on the same campus in Staples. The third facility is about an hour east in Aiken, Minn. That building exclusively focuses on gate valves—one of the firm's largest sources of business. The three facilities combine to employ about 85.
The company operates six injection and 27 compression presses at its main facility, with the extrusion operation consisting of two lines. It also operates three compression presses in Aiken.
Stern Rubber uses almost every kind of rubber imaginable—including natural rubber, EPDM, SBR, molded silicone and fluoroelastomers—using compression, transfer and injection molding as well as some extrusion. Part of the reason for the growth is the company's willingness to try almost anything.
“If we can mold it, we'll quote it and take it on,” Jackson said.