MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio—Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. is back on the acquisition trail after a short hiatus.
A custom manufacturer of molded rubber parts, extruded dense and sponge rubber goods, and extruded plastic products, UP&R recently completed the purchase of Medina, Ohio-based Gasko Fabricated Products, a high-volume, die-cutting converter of polymer and hybrid materials used in gaskets, seals and diaphragms.
Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal closed June 15.
The acquisition is UP&R's fifth overall and third in the last four years, which it said makes the company one of the larger non-mixing polymer product producers in the U.S.
Gasko, which eventually will be merged into UP&R, primarily serves the automotive, marine, outdoor power equipment and other industrial sectors where its products are used for power take-off and transmission, engine management and fuel delivery system applications.
Included in the acquisition is machinery at Gasko's Medina factory, but not the plant itself, according to Joe Colebank, president and CEO of Middlefield-based UP&R. Universal is one of five operating businesses within the Cypress Companies, an Akron-based private investment firm that specializes in the industrial sector.
Virtually all of Gasko's work force, about 15, will be retained, Colebank said, and will continue to work at the Medina location until the employees along with the rest of the operation are transferred to UP&R's Tallmadge, Ohio, production facility.
He said the transfer tentatively is planned for the end of 2018, but at this point that is not set in stone.
Once the acquired company is merged into the Tallmadge factory, which spans about 20,000 square feet, UP&R will have a work force in the 135- to 140-employee range working at the firm's two plants in Middlefield and Tallmadge.
"This is a very good fit for us," Colebank noted. "It completes another piece of the puzzle and gives us more capabilities and greater flexibility."
That's especially true in terms of the die-cutting operations of both firms because they will be able to share their expertise with one another. UP&R and Gasko historically have specialized in fast turnaround on products along with high mix and high volume production, which makes them highly complementary, UP&R's management team said in a press release.
In addition, the statement said, UP&R will be able to offer a more robust product portfolio with Gasko's line of goods added to the mix, giving customers a much wider range of offerings, including molded and extruded rubber and die-cut parts from IATF-16949 and ISWO-9001 certified facilities.
Gasko has been in operation for more than 15 years and is a specialist in die-cutting non-metallic materials. With its custom fabrication capabilities, the firm offers a variety of products and processes that utilize a broad breadth of materials, according to UP&R. It produces goods for the automotive, general industrial, cargo control and pipe gasket market.
In addition to die-cutting, Gasko's capabilities include traveling head presses, kiss cutting, laminating and special packaging processes that protect custom parts in transit.
UP&R, on the other hand, has been in operation since 1970, when it was formed to produce rubber tarp straps and pipe gaskets, which remain core products within its operation. The company was acquired by Cypress in 2002.
It produces goods for the automotive, general industrial, cargo control and pipe gasket markets. The firm manufactures its products domestically but does have international partnerships with Asian suppliers, Colebank said.
That flexibility enables the company to fill customer needs across a wide variety of polymer compounds, designs, specifications and price points, he said.
UP&R has grown steadily over the last few years, part of it organically but acquisitions have had a lot to do with the gains it has made.
It acquired Crest Rubber Co. to boost its presence in the compression molded rubber product sector in February 2017; Universal Rubber and Plastics Co. in 2014; Dybrook Products Inc. in 2012; and ACL Custom Rubber Inc. in 2008.
All the companies were located in Ohio and were merged into UP&R. In addition, the firm expanded its Middlefield plant in 2014, adding 36,000 square feet to increase the size of the facility to about 125,000 square feet.
Unlike Gasko and the other acquisitions the company has made, Crest had run into difficulties and gone into receivership in late 2016, shortly before UP&R purchased the business. "I knew it could be a good business again," Colebank said, "so we stepped in and bought it. Otherwise, it would have gone under."
It turned out to be a good move and the merger of the seal and rubber mat business into UP&R's Middlefield molding operation has gone well, he said.