KITCHENER, Ontario—When Gary Mottershead founded GCP Elastomeric Inc. in 1999 with commercial rubber sheet as its only product he figured the business would have a short shelf life.
"I thought as international trade continued to open and become more accessible, we would find it tough to continue to compete," said the president of the supplier of numerous rubber goods, including parts that are molded or extruded.
He was wrong.
"What I underestimated at the beginning of this business was the immense value of relationships with both customers and suppliers," Mottershead said. "Others can talk a lot about the technical side of things, but one of the reasons something works is because you build a relationship."
Today, GCP, now known as GCP Industrial Products, is a thriving business that produces all of its products by contracting production with more than 30 manufacturers, both in the U.S. and abroad. It specializes in large volume custom and standard industrial products.
It outsources manufacturing to GCP approved suppliers "after we've certified their facility can produce products to North American and European standards," according to Nathan Pike, vice president of GCP.
Headquartered about an hour west of Toronto in Kitchener in a facility that houses its sales and marketing, operations and technical development units, the company also has an office in Suzhou, China, that serves as the center for its quality control and production management team for contract manufacturers that produce its products in China and throughout Asia.
GCP employs 16 full-time staff members at its Canadian and Chinese facilities. It also has five sales representatives who are geographically located in Kelowna, British Columbia; Newcastle, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Houston; and Queretaro, Mexico.
"Our success over the past 20 years has led us to work with many different customers—from small independents to multinational corporations," Mottershead said. "We now have several multi-million dollar product lines and supply more than 20 million pounds of product annually. We are also the largest importer of industrial sheet rubber into North America."
That isn't the only reason the company has survived and grown steadily. "We have worked closely with our strategic partners to develop four key product lines: National Silicone, Premlene Sheet Rubber, Rubatex Sponge Rubber and Enlast Engineered Structures," Pike said.
National Silicone is GCP's newest product line. Formation of the brand in 2015 "was a relatively organic process," according to Pike. "In 2012 we purchased the international property, formulations and molds of Rubatex, a very recognized name in the rubber industry. At the time we weren't sure what the total value and return would look like. Our focus was getting Rubatex production back up and running.
"The overwhelming positive response we got from people we talked to about Rubatex led us to believe, much like the consumer market, brands can hold a tremendous amount of value in the industrial market as well. From that recognition, we also felt that forming a brand for our silicone product line could help us build trust in the marketplace, inspire our internal team, generate new customers and create long-term value for key GCP customers and vendor partners."
The company has been supplying commercialized solid silicone and silicone sponge sheeting to the market since 2005 and has continued to expand its product range since then. As silicone sales grew, Mottershead said, the transition into a branded product line in 2015 was a relatively easy decision from a marketing and technical standpoint.