MISHAWAKA, Ind.—South Bend Modern Molding Inc. has changed a lot over the years, even in the last five. Like most rubber job shops, it had to adapt throughout its nearly 75-year history as the global economic landscape evolved.
But one thing has remained the same: It's always been family owned.
“The biggest way we compete is service,” said President Don Zimmerman, son of owner Chuck Zimmerman. His father now serves as the firm's chief financial officer.
Don Zimmerman is the second generation to lead and the third generation to work for South Bend Modern Molding. His grandfather, also named Don, came to work for the firm as its chemist in the 1980s after a long career with Uniroyal.
“We have the capabilities, and we need to prove that to our customer base, and then we need to show them how we can service not only those parts but then aide into other things,” Don Zimmerman added. “Historically you used to just make the part, and that was good enough, but now if you can't bring some engineering to the table, or for the rubber industry some chemistry help, then you aren't a realistic player anymore. So getting our customers to understand that we can help them and become a part of their engineering team is critical.”
South Bend has diversified to the point where no market accounts for more than 25 percent of its total sales with automotive about 20 percent. Don Zimmerman said that kind of diversification helps offset peaks and valleys. The only time he can remember all of the firm's industries being down was in 2008, during the great recession.