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April 21, 2014

Production line up

Local manufacturers expanding despite tough economy for industry

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Innovation.

Using just one word, that’s how RubberForm president Bill Robbins described something manufacturers need in order to be successful.

RubberForm Recycled Products, a city-based manufacturer of recycled rubber products for the traffic safety, home improvement, shipping and marine products industries, went online in 2007. Working with Liberty Tire, RubberForm would recycle rubber, mostly from old tires, and manufacture new products.

Recession hit the country the same year, putting a damper on Robbins’ expectations for the Michigan Street facility. But by 2010, he said, RubberForm was back in the black, even doubling sales the following year.

Keeping up with technology and finding cost-effective ways to produce quality products that meet businesses’ needs are how RubberForm got through the recession. It’s how the firm does business in any economic cycle, Robbins said.

”What we’re doing here is innovating useful products out of recycled material, plastic, rubber,” he said. “What’s the best material?”

RubberForm will be making rubber curbs for roundabouts in a few municipalities that’ll be longer lasting and more durable. The company also makes traffic sign bases, parking lot wheel stops, road ramps, umbrella and table bases. 

Manufacturing continues to take it on the chin in New York state, meaning companies have had to be creative to stay afloat. The Department of Labor said in March that manufacturing employment in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area declined by about 600 jobs over the past 12 months, leaving a total of 50,100 people employed in factories and small shops.

Behind the depressed numbers, there are some good things happening in manufacturing. Activity stayed flat in February compared to January, according to a report from Niagara University economist Jay Walker. Nationally, reports say activity increased in March.

So, keeping up with technology and staying in touch with customer needs has been vital.

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