Combined, Lauren Manufacturing and LMI employ more than 600 in four facilities. LMI operates out of Cambridge while Lauren Manufacturing has two facilities in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and one in Spring Lake, Mich.
Lauren Manufacturing's key product line is sealing to a variety of industries. Hovan said the firm breaks its business into vehicle and transportation, automotive, building and construction, weatherstripping, point of purchase markets, and emerging technologies.
The automotive side is growing, but Hovan said the firm is careful to make sure it's not becoming beholden to that market as a percent of its overall sales. A very small portion of the firm's business deals with oil and gas, which makes it insulated from the downturn in that particular market.
Overall, he said Lauren's wide diversification of markets and customers has buffered the firm against any singular market specific move.
“We're seeing that there's more input on our side,” Hovan said of the automotive industry.
“Automotive used to be very defined specifications and very prescriptive. Now it's "here's my problem, help me fix this so I can focus on other things.' We tend to be partnering much more with automotive now instead of just being a supplier. They're treating us more as somebody they can bring in and help design solutions for their problems. It's much more collaborative now than it ever has been.”
And the firm is even more diversified in the wake of its Edgetech divestiture, which gave Lauren the cash it needed to grow its polymer-related business—namely establishing and growing its plastics division over the course of the last five years.
“We span the range now,” Hovan said. “We're looking at lots of companies now struggling to find all that engineering and design talent they used to have access to.
“So they're coming to people like us who have the depth and resources in design and engineering and process knowledge, and now materials knowledge not just on the rubber side, but all the way through your TPOs, your regular olefins, all the way out to engineered plastics and everything in between. We can draw on any one of those and create a solution for somebody.”
Its LMI joint venture has played an important role in the firm's evolution. Hovan said with the firm's recently announced expansion, where LMI will add 50,000 square feet to its plant and a third mixing line to increase production by 50 percent to 60 million pounds per year, gives Lauren the flexibility to grow further.
“The group could potentially struggle to grow if it didn't have a go-to source for the quality we've come to expect out of our raw material supply, meaning our compounded rubber,” Hovan said. “We'd only be able to grow and stretch the capacity here so far.
“By adding a third mixer, that opens up a massive amount of opportunity for Lauren Manufacturing to grow organically or bolt something on. I still believe this is one of the most state-of-the-art compounding facilities in the world.”