CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif.—Coi Rubber Products Inc. is a rubber goods supplier that has used diversity to its advantage.
The firm is a certified minority-owned supplier where most of its work force also comprises minorities. This has helped open doors for the supplier of custom molded, extruded and rubber-to-metal products, leading to growth for the City of Industry-based company.
And Edward Casillas, Coi Rubber vice president of sales, is convinced the makeup of the rubber product firm is a big reason for its success. He said as managers, they see the staff as a diverse group of people who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, with economic, cultural and language differences.
"That really allows us to be a melting pot of all these different life experiences to really hone in and define solutions for our existing customers and for potential customers," he said. "We really have a unique take on the rubber industry."
Coi Rubber—led by president and co-founder David Chao—doesn't do any manufacturing in California. Its corporate office and distribution center are located 15 minutes east of downtown Los Angeles, along with a sister company that makes durable medical equipment. Production is at the company's factory in Anhui Wuhu, China.
Coi currently employs about 15 people in California, down some because of COVID-19, while the manufacturing site in China has a staff of about 450.
During this tumultuous past year with the coronavirus pandemic impacting business all over the globe, Casillas said many in the industry are looking for a stable supply chain now more than ever. And he believes Coi Rubber, because it is so lean, can be more agile than many of its larger competitors.
"We have individuals who come from different backgrounds with different experiences," he said. "That allows us to make more strategic decisions in a more efficient manner. We have a lot of different brains of different calibers who really give us good ideas tackling tough subjects."
Those include ways to engineer better-performing compounds while keeping costs stable for customers, or looking to solve quality issues.
"We really find talent," he said. "I think every employer has a difficult time doing so, but perhaps the answer is we are very fortunate perhaps because we tap into a pool that other companies don't tap into."