Sometimes it seems that the giants of the rubber industry hog the spotlight. But the backbone of our industry in many ways is the rubber goods producers that are down a place or two on the food chain, the middle-market players that often boast top-notch technology and have a global footprint.
Two Ohio-based firms are prime examples of these types of success stories.
Q Holding Co.—known in its markets by such names as Quality Synthetic Rubber, Qure Medical and Quadra Tooling—has operations in the U.S., China and is putting its first manufacturing in Mexico. And Lauren International, a diversified player in rubber and plastics, is looking to realign its portfolio for future growth.
QSR is one of those feel-good success stories. It's celebrating its 50-year anniversary, having grown from a tiny rubber firm with a handful of employees to one that now has a substantial U.S. manufacturing presence along with a growing international one.
It set up shop in China in 2005 and has seen growth there both its medical and automotive/industrial businesses, and now is building a greenfield site in Queretaro, Mexico. The decision to locate there is not based on chasing low labor costs, but on following its customers and being able to serve them where they do business.
Company leadership believes that the many pieces of Q can match its larger competitors in technology, yet retain that small-company ability to focus on customers. One of its philosophies is not to try being everything to everyone.
Q Holding also is an example of a company that has thrived under private equity ownership, being under three separate owners in the past four years, all while growing organically and through acquisition.
New Philadelphia, Ohio-based Lauren International currently has nine divisions, with about 90 percent of business tied to rubber and plastics. While its main Lauren Manufacturing business focuses on sealing technology for a variety of businesses, the firm also has business units that make a wide array of goods, from rubber dairy milk liners and hoses to pet products, along with a low-voltage LED lighting business, a school safety software operation and remote controlled aircraft.
It also is a joint venture partner in LMI Custom Mixing, which is in expansion mode and is key to supporting future plans for organic growth and possibly bolt-on acquisitions. Right now Lauren is figuring out what pieces make sense to put under the Lauren Manufacturing umbrella to position itself for success in 2017 and beyond.
So both Q Holding and Lauren are embracing the strength of being diversified middle market firms that embody the best of what the rubber industry has to offer.