COPLEY, Ohio—Preferred Compounding Corp. exited 2016 and entered 2017 as a bigger, more versatile company with a far greater range of products to offer its customers.
In 2016, the long-time rubber compounder acquired Trostel Ltd. to bolster its growing mixing business and add rubber seal manufacturing to the company's offerings. That transaction, which was the second the firm completed in a two-month span, closed in early December.
Preferred, which was acquired by Audax Private Equity and some members of the Preferred management team in February 2016, is in the process of transitioning Trostel's mixing business into its compounding operation, according to Ken Bloom, president and CEO of the Copley-headquartered company.
In a recent interview, he described Trostel as a perfect fit with Preferred.
"Because Trostel and Preferred are both high value added custom compounders with remarkably similar cultures, the integration is going very well," he said. "Like Preferred, Trostel Compounding, now Preferred Compounding Whitewater, provides deep technical resources to create solutions for customers.
"And we share a deep commitment to strong and open customer relationships with the focus on the customer."
Bloom said the businesses use many of the same operational systems, "so technology is proceeding smoothly as well. ERP systems integration should be complete by summer. Because of these similarities, it has really been business as usual at all sites."
In terms of the acquired seal manufacturing business, he said, Trostel Molding—with operations in Geneva, Wis.; McCallen, Texas; and Reynosa, Mexico—will continue to operate as a standalone division under the Trostel name.
Adding Trostel Molding to its operation marked Preferred's first foray into the product manufacturing arena. It produces custom rubber seals, including cartridge, rotary shaft, reciprocating shaft, static shaft, mechanical face, high pressure shaft, wheel hub assembly, static, radial shaft and diaphragm seals.
Among other key moves the company made during 2016 was the addition of another compounding and warehouse facility, spanning 57,000 square feet and located adjacent to the company's present mixing plant, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The addition of the new site was announced in October and it opened in January.
Preferred added a new F-270 mixer at its plant in Huntington, Tenn.; signed a lease on a new headquarters in Copley, freeing up space at its mixing facility in Barberton, Ohio, for additional compounding and offices; hired Marc Pignataro as vice president of sales and business development to replace Joe Hudson, a longtime industry veteran who retired; and promoted Scott Lieberman to executive vice president for Preferred and president of Preferred Compounding de Mexico.
Preferred leased the building in San Luis Potosi because the space was needed to help handle the company's continuing growth, Bloom said. "Preferred Compounding de Mexico's original facility in San Luis Potosi has been expanded three times since we bought it in 2012."
Initially, he said, the firm will use the new structure for warehousing. "By early summer, we will install and expect to have operational a new high performance elastomer and color mixing plant in the new facility."
Preferred is planning to expand its portfolio with new technologies in 2017. "We are always evaluating new equipment and technologies for mixing, finishing, quality and any other area that enables us to better serve customers and improve operations," according to Bloom.
With the addition of Whitewater facility, "we are looking to expand on that location's deep expertise as a premier developer and compounder of high performance elastomers like FKM, HNBR, AEM and others," he said.
Supporting key values
With the additions and expansions made by the company in 2016, Bloom said, Preferred can do more for its customers in more places now and in the future.
He noted the firm added expertise, capabilities, capacity and locations with the moves it made, solidifying its position as a top custom mixer in North America.
"We're using these resources to further deliver on our five key values: consistent quality, technical excellence, comprehensive capabilities, proactive and best-in-class service, and relationship focus with customers and suppliers," Bloom said.
"Through our superior service model, we are the go-to source for custom mixing of thermoset elastomers."
Preferred has been successful and has grown steadily over the years because first and foremost is the service it provides current customers and the contributions it makes to their success in any way it can, Bloom said.
"Second is how we've been able to differentiate ourselves through service, quality, technology and partnership.
"Third, we've continued to develop as an organization with the deep and proven capabilities and experience to fully support our customers and growth. Lastly, we've invested in the business to ensure we can provide the best technology and service in the industry."
He said Preferred intends to grow further in 2017 and beyond.
"We will continue to execute our strategy to expand both organically and strategically where it supports our customers' product and service needs across NAFTA and globally," he said.