MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio—Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. has acquired Crest Rubber Co. to bolster its presence in the compression molded rubber product sector.
It purchased all of Crest's business assets except the firm's plant in Ravenna, Ohio, according to Joe Colebank, president and CEO of Middlefield-based UP&R, one of six operating companies that make up the portfolio of the Cypress Companies, an Akron-based private investment firm that bought Universal in 2002.
Crest's work force of seven—one involved in sales administration and the other six in manufacturing—will be retained. They will be transferred to either UP&R's Middlefield or Tallmadge, Ohio, plants, he said, while the business itself will be transitioned into the Middlefield molding operation.
Formed in 1960, Crest has been in continuous operation since then, producing hydraulic and pneumatic seals as well as various other industrial products, including agricultural mats, utility mats and mud flaps.
Saved by UP&R
Crest had gone into receivership in late 2016 after it was fined by the Environmental Protection Agency and its owner, Dave Clark, had died. It couldn't recover, Colebank said.
"I knew this business, and I had a soft spot in my heart for this one," he said. "And I knew it could be a good business again, so we stepped in and bought it. Otherwise, it would have gone under."
Financial details were not disclosed.
Colebank noted that Crest "has solid, long-term employees, a good book of business, good support assets," and the addition will help UP&R grow in the seals and mats sectors.
He said the purchase is another step in UP&R's plan to become a one-stop shop.
According to Colebank, immediate benefits for Crest customers by the combination of UP&R and Crest include:
A strong support staff. UP&R has a fully staffed team and a refined product development process to ensure smooth transitions and program launches.
Capacity. UP&R's Middlefield plant operates a variety of presses that produce molded parts for as many as seven different industries, and Crest's business will blend seamlessly into UP&R's daily production.
Enhanced capabilities. While the companies have shared a similar historical focus, each excels in its own specific but complementary area.
UP&R was founded in 1970 as a tarp strap and gasket maker. Those products remain core to what it does today as a custom manufacturer of molded rubber parts, extruded dense and rubber products, and extruded plastic goods, Colebank said.
Its parts are used in numerous industries spread across North America.
He said that while the company produces its goods primarily for the domestic market, it maintains international partnerships with Asian suppliers. That flexibility enables it to handle customers' needs across a wide variety of polymer compounds, designs, specifications and price points, he added.
Crest fits into its operation perfectly, Colebank said, especially on the seals side of its business.
UP&R has been aggressive in the marketplace for the last nine years, making four acquisitions in that span, in an effort to add to its capabilities and capacity.
Its last acquisition prior to the Crest transaction was the purchase of Universal Rubber and Plastics Corp. in 2014.
It also expanded its Middlefield plant about the same time, adding 36,000 square feet to increase the size of the factory to about 125,000 square feet.
Adding Universal Rubber to the fold gave UP&R a custom rubber product extruder that produces goods for the automotive, construction and general industrial markets operating out of its plant in Tallmadge.
It focuses on microwave-cured rubber extrusion and secondary operations, producing gaskets, bumpers, seals, bushings and shock mounts made from natural rubber, silicone, nitrile, polyurethane, butyl, neoprene and other elastomers.
Colebank said the addition of Crest and the earlier purchase of Universal Rubber are just two stepping stones on UP&R's growth path. It intends to grow further both organically and via acquisitions.
"We're pretty aggressive on acquisitions, and we have several companies we're currently looking at," he said. "Up until now we've stayed in Ohio, but we're looking outside of the state too."
He said it's too early to determine if any additions will be made in the near future.