ALABASTER, Ala.—The year was 1968—a year of chaos and courage, when race riots and political upheaval marred the country's landscape and the first human beings journeyed to the moon aboard Apollo 8.
It was the same year that Specification Rubber Products Inc.—Rubber News' 2021 Best Places to Work winner—opened its doors. The company began operations in an 18,000-sq.-ft. facility in the very center of Alabama—not far from Huntsville, where NASA's astros trained for their missions.
"Spec Rubber," as the company is affectionately known to its 62 employees, uses video from Apollo 8 on the opening page of its website as inspiration that such chaos can be overcome, that the impossible is possible with hard work and precise planning.
The message is prescient today, considering the uncertainty wrought in 2021 by the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain nightmares, pricing volatility and the Great Resignation.
"Effective teamwork and overall engagement are two parts of the secret sauce that genuinely help make Spec Rubber unique and a great place to work," President Steven A. Smith told Rubber News Jan. 11. "I'm honored to be part of such a wonderful group who shows up and delivers daily."
Through eight expansions over the last 53 years, diligence has paid off for the rubber processor, as the company has grown to more than four times its original size, now at about 85,000 square feet in Alabaster.
Specification Rubber has evolved into a sought-after manufacturer of molded rubber components for the waterworks industry, specializing in rubber gaskets. Today, the company is a primary supplier for ductile iron pipe, valve and hydrant producers.
The firm specializes in the use of SBR, natural rubber, nitrile, EPDM, neoprene, silicone and fluoroelastomers, offering specialty mechanical molded goods for industrial, oil and gas, agricultural, electrical and some mining applications.