By Mike McNulty, Rubber & Plastics News Staff
Huntington, West Virginia - Rubberlite Inc. has completed an expansion of its custom conversion and production site in Huntington to upgrade the firm's product development and manufacturing operations.
The closed cell rubber converter and maker of engineered rubber, polyurethane and plastic foam goods spent about $5.7 million to build a 52 000-sq.ft (4830-sq.m) plant next to an existing 250 000-sq.ft production facility.
Rubberlite also added machinery and improved its manufacturing processes and equipment at the site, a spokesman said. The project was partially supported by a $3-million loan from West Virginia, according to ceo Allen Mayo, who founded the business.
The expansion represents a success story between Rubberlite and the state of West Virginia, he said. He noted that the relationship between the state and the company dates back to 1986, when the firm was launched with two employees and no customers.
It has grown significantly since then.
Mayo said the second factory will house several new high-tech production lines. Currently, the company produces polyurethane, rubber and plastic foam products that are used in the aerospace, automotive, electronics and footwear industries in the US and about 40 other countries.
Rubberlite employs about 145 but plans to add more staff within the next three years. Development of new formulations and applications is a prime reason for the company's growth, Mayo said, which has led to the creation of several successful brands, including Hypur-cel medium to high density open-celled polyurethane foam and Visco-cel slow-recovery memory foam.
Hypur-cel is used for footwear, medical, industrial, orthopedic soft goods, automotive, electronic, aerospace, protective equipment and other applications. Visco-cel is aimed at the mattress pad, wheelchair seating and numerous other markets.
The company has done well because it's diverse, according to Mayo. "We convert closed cell rubber and plastic products into materials for industrial applications, automotive, appliance, truck industry, marine, to name a few."
In a separate move, Rubberlite recently named Alan Letton president of the firm. The 20-year veteran of the academic and business sectors joined the company in May 2011 as chief technology officer.
Most recently, he served as chief science officer and senior vice president of research and engineering for mattress maker Sealy Inc."