AKRON—What better place from which to supply polymers and rubber additives for the global tire and industrial rubber goods industries than the Rubber Capital of the World? And what better business to do it than this year's Best Places to Work winner?
Americas International Inc. President Wayne Stair, founder of the company and former Goodyear employee, counts the location of AI's headquarters as a feather in his cap, growing up around the likes of industry giants Goodyear and Firestone.
"I always felt it was critical to have the company headquartered in Akron," Stair said. "I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the world. I quickly learned that Akron enjoys a very significant role. Industry professionals from all over recognize Akron, the companies located here, the history and the University of Akron—all important aspects of the rubber industry."
Now AI can add another accolade to its portfolio, having been named the top company in Rubber & Plastics News' Best Places to Work for 2020. The second annual survey was conducted by the Best Companies Group, and nine rubber industry firms scored high enough to be labeled a rubber industry Best Place to Work.
"Obviously I am very gratified," Stair said. "I've always wanted as my No. 1 goal to have AI as a challenging but enjoyable work experience for our associates. Most importantly, I really want them to be well-compensated for their efforts.
"I always try to keep in mind—since I worked for Goodyear for 18 years—that we are all here to do a job. And good compensation is important because we all have families. This continues to be my No. 1 philosophy."
The distributor of rubber accelerators, additives, synthetic rubber, latex rubber, thermoplastic elastomers and heat transfer fluids was founded in 1997, and supplies customers with products from some of the top raw material manufacturers in the industry, including Eastman Chemical Co., Goodyear Chemical, Nocil, Sasol, Taminco Corp. and Therminol (heat transfer fluid produced by Eastman).
With its 7,500-sq.-ft. headquarters on Embassy Parkway (in an overall 15,000-sq.-ft. building which AI owns, leasing out the remaining space), AI remains a small company with 17 employees. AI maintains 16 warehouses throughout the U.S., in Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, California and Texas.
And while Americas International may not have a large staff, it does have high expectations.
"Everyone is dedicated to the customer-first approach, making the business successful without personal agendas," Stair said. "We have excellent communication between departments and collaborative relationships with global supply partners. Employees are willing to take on a challenge even if it's not within their core competency."
The staff is 70 percent female and 30 percent male, and experienced zero turnover last year in an industry that averaged 17 people per year for businesses of comparable size.
Stair attributes the low turnover rate to company amenities such as an excellent health plan, through which AI pays between 75 percent and 99 percent of the premium on medical coverage for employees; and discounted medical, dental and vision rates for dependents.