ALABASTER, Ala.—Much of the waterworks infrastructure still being used in the U.S. is more than a half-century old. And as this infrastructure crumbles, it's often up to an Alabama-based company that just celebrated its 50th anniversary to provide an emergency solution.
These types of emergency products may not be the biggest source of business for Specification Rubber Products Inc., better known as Spec Rubber, which turned 50 years old in May. Yet if there is a water main break somewhere in the U.S., Spec Rubber often is the manufacturer that will get a call to provide an immediate solution, whether it's a gasket for a 48-inch supply pipe needed to fix a main break or one for a six-inch inductile needed for a rural community, according to company President Steven Smith.
"We have a large job shop that works on emergency projects where (gaskets and other products) may be needed right now," Smith said. "We're fortunate in that we've created a fluid and agile business with talented employees that can react quickly to customer needs."
Smith said Spec Rubber ships more than 40 percent of the orders it receives out to the customer that same day. It can manufacture more than 300 products ranging from an array of molded rubber gaskets to rubber sheet material.
Spec Rubber joined the family of companies that today make up American Cast Iron Pipe Co. just a year after it was founded in 1969. It remains a part of American Cast Iron today but is managed largely autonomously from the parent company, Smith said. Spec Rubber not only produces parts for American, but for many of its parent company's competitors around the world.
These parts often are part of the "project-based" gaskets manufactured onsite at the company's 85,000-sq.-ft. facility in Alabaster. Those gaskets include restrained and mechanical joint, water meter, filler flange and other specific gaskets that are registered or trademarked.