LIMA – Located in a nondescript commercial building along Jackson Street, just east of downtown Lima, lies a state-of-the-art company that manufactures sheet and extruded rubber products for customers ranging from the U.S. Department of Defense to leading automotive companies and the aerospace industry.
Founded in 1914 as Buckeye Rubber Products, BRP Manufacturing Company produces sheet rubber and extruded rubber products made to exacting specifications as needed by their highly specialized customers.
While a rubber extruding company has existed since 1914 at 637 Jackson Street, the company as it exists today was formed in 1997 when Kendall House and Steve Pendergast purchased the business. House serves as president and chief executive officer, while Pendergast is the company’s vice president of sales.
With new owners came a change in focus for the business, with some unprofitable manufacturing lines dropped and other new markets developed. Perhaps as important as the products being produced was the attitude of House and Pendergast when it came to treating their employees.
Of the approximately 45 workers currently employed at BRP, “several have been with us since Day One,” House said. “I’d say 45 percent of our workforce is age 55 or older, and I think that’s great. The majority of our employees have been with us for more than 20 years.”
Hiring the right people and then treating them well is at the backbone of BRP, so much so that the company recently implemented an employee stock option that essentially makes workers part-owners of the company.
Thirty-five percent of BRP’s business, House said, comes in the form of government military contracts. The company supplies, on a contract basis, anti-vibration membranes used primarily by the U.S. Navy as well as special rubber gasket material for stealth bombers.
Another 35% of the products produced at the Lima facility are earmarked for automotive and related industries, with General Motors, Toyota and Mitsubishi the primary customers.
House attributes the longevity of BRP Manufacturing Co. to a “willingness to adapt and change and to embrace new product lines.”
“It’s about understanding what the future holds. And the changes in the next five to 10 years are going to be substantial,” House said. “Take electric cars, for example. They don’t use nearly as much rubber” as gas-powered vehicles do.
BRP, as the market dictates, will change its focus as necessary going forward.
That’s just what companies with a century of experience under their belts do.