When Cedric Glasper purchased The Durox Company from Wabtec in early 2020, he purchased a company born of a war veteran that grew into a family business over four decades. “Dad called it his first child,” said Bob Smykal’s son Rob, who fondly remembers riding his two-wheeler in the 25,000 square foot building. “I grew up with the business.
Bob Smykal served in World War II as an Army Trooper, a horseman in the Cavalry Division, having trained at Fort Riley, Kansas for the China-Burma-India Theater campaign. “Fortunately the war ended when we were en route to Japan,” Bob said. “We were among the first small groups to go into Tokyo.”
“My dream was, after I got out of the service, to go to college,” he continued. When he returned home from the Army in April 1947, all the universities and colleges were overcrowded with men who had the same idea. “Men were sleeping in one room homes and trailers. So, I decided to go to work.”
Bob started to work for Vapor Steam Heat, now a Wabtec Company. “Vapor was a wonderful company,” Bob said. “They gave me a lot of opportunities, transferred me from one city to another. I really didn’t have a home anymore. I rode on a lot of trains.” Bob’s last transfer was to Cleveland from New York City. He was going to be transferred to Houston, but decided to leave the company instead. “Living in Cleveland I found a nice lady, got married, had Robbie…” he reminisced.
“When I left Vapor, I decided to be a manufacturer’s rep,” Bob said. “The railroads had problems with oxidation on lines. I did research on paint and found a company that made additives. I had been representing, but the greedy owner wouldn’t pay commission, so I decided to go out on my own and found a company to make the additive.”
In 1954, Bob founded DurAd, selling paint specializing in durable additives to stop rust or oxidation. A New Jersey Company thought the name DurAd was too similar to their name and sued. Bob won the use of the name, but decided to change it to Durox. “The name stuck,” Bob said. “I liked it.
Bob marketed almost exclusively to railroad companies, primarily the locomotive maintenance industry. He was able to identify components that Durox could either repair, sell, rep or distribute to the railroads. One type of component was heat transfer products, radiators and oil coolers. During the rebuild and assembly of radiators and oil coolers, Durox needed gaskets and O-rings. “We had trouble with gaskets,” Bob said. I found that Garlock manufactured the gaskets for the locomotive industry, but had let that slide. I negotiated to buy that division from Garlock, including the dies. One thing led to another. I had started with a little company in Ohio.”
In the late 1970s, when Rob was in still in college, his father decided it was time for Durox to start making their own rubber parts. Located close to Akron, Ohio – The Rubber Capital of the World with a large pool of mold makers, Bob decided to concentrate on molding. To help make that transition, he hired Bill Matthews, who Bob calls “Mr. Wonder Man.” According to Bob, Bill ran the business, which started with just four employees and began to grow. “O-rings were a problem for the railroad,” Bob said. “Bill came up with using Viton® and made a formula for our o-rings. A lot of companies would make them black and put a colored dot for identification. Bill decided to make ours green, because he was Irish. That became the national industry standard.”
“Bill was our everything: compounding, running presses, molding and maintenance guy” said Rob. In 1981, after working for a few railroads, Rob joined his father and helped to continue to grow the company.
In the late 1980s, railroads and other transportation companies began to merge and small companies were acquired by larger companies. The industry was changing. In 1995, Durox acquired a 45,000 square foot building in Strongsville, Ohio that offered a large space to expand. They kept the original building for warehouse and component rebuilds. In 1997, Conrail, one of their larger customers announced it was going to be acquired by Norfolk Southern Corporation and CSX Corporation and the assets split between the two railroads. That same year, the Smykals sold Durox to Standard Car Truck, a manufacturer of freight car components, who wanted to expand into the locomotive side of the industry. “I really wasn’t doing too much anymore, except coming up with ideas,” Bob said. I always liked to add on, never satisfied doing the same thing over and over. When Standard Car approached us, I figured, okay.”
Ironically, Wabtec, who owned Bob’s first employer Vapor Steam Heat, acquired Standard Car Truck and Durox along with it in 2008. Two years later, Wabtec acquired Chardon Rubber extrusion business and brought it into the Durox building in Strongsville, which was enlarged to 75,000 square feet.
Just this past winter, Durox returned to its small company roots, when Mechanical Rubber based in Warwick, NY acquired the extrusion business from Wabtec. “Something in the name Durox is lucky,” Bob said. “I have a feeling it’s going to grow again. It’s a wide industry to sell to. I aimed all my sales to the railroad industry.”
“Did we have second thoughts about selling?” pondered Rob. “We always have second thoughts. But it was better for the company. Nothing stays the same.”
“I’d love to be back at Durox, starting again,” Bob said. “My great wish would be that I was 30 or 40 years younger. You can’t beat my enthusiasm. I know Cedric will be very, very successful with Durox. It has a good name in the industry. That’s something to be proud of.”
Warwick, NY – Mechanical Rubber would like to take a moment during this time of worldwide emergency and uncertainty to share some good news. At the beginning of March, Mechanical Rubber acquired Durox, a Wabtec Company in Strongsville, Ohio. The new company is Mechanical Rubber Ohio.
With this expansion, Mechanical Rubber will continue to service all of Wabtec worldwide divisions in the rail and transit markets. Other existing markets include Energy, HVACR, Heavy-Duty Trucks, and Off-Road Vehicles. The company will continue producing short run extrusions with the addition of volume based seals for large jobs such as glazing profiles.
“The acquisition was completed shortly before the COVID-19 virus started to spread in the United States,” said CEO Cedric Glasper. “While we’ve been working on transitioning the company from its corporate parent to the Mechanical Rubber family, we’ve been unsure whether to share our good news. But there has been so much bad news and economic uncertainty, we decided to look to the future and share our exciting new opportunity.”
“It is business as usual at Mechanical Rubber Ohio,” he continued. “As an essential critical manufacturer, we are able to continue working in our Ohio location, as well as in New York and California. Of course, in compliance with local and federal regulations, some of our staff are working from home and those critical to production are implementing guidelines as established by the CDC.”
Mechanical Rubber Ohio will continue to manufacture seals and gaskets for all of its existing customers with administration being handled through the Warwick, New York headquarters.
“There have been some challenges in this transition,” said Glasper. “But I see it as an educational opportunity for both locations, as well as myself. We’ve added staff at our headquarters to handle the additional workload and will be hiring more staff in Ohio as well.”
Mechanical Rubber is headquartered adjacent to its manufacturing facility in Warwick, NY, where it opened in 1941 and specializes in custom requirements for aerospace, defense, healthcare, transit and commercial industries.
Mechanical Rubber continuously strives for excellence as a certified MBE/DBE, AS9100D/ISO 9001:2015 and US DOT manufacturer, while maintaining NIST SP 800-171, REACH, and RoHS compliance.
Warwick, NY – Mechanical Rubber, a leading manufacturer of custom rubber and plastics products, recently opened a new office in Richmond, California with the ability to support existing aerospace, defense, transit and industrial markets.
“I am very excited to announce this expansion,” said CEO Cedric Glasper. “It’s something that has been in the works for some time and has finally come to fruition. The need to have a location on the west coast has just grown over time and making the move now was the next logical step in our growth strategy. We plan to expand into an industrial space within 18 months, which will address our current product demand.”
Mechanical Rubber is headquartered adjacent to its manufacturing facility in Warwick, NY, where it opened in 1941 and specializes in custom requirements for aerospace, transit, defense, healthcare and commercial industries.
Mechanical Rubber continuously strives for excellence as a certified MBE/DBE, AS9100D/ISO 9001:2015 and NYS DOT manufacturer, while maintaining NIST SP 800-171, REACH, and RoHS compliance.
As the summer draws to a close, Mechanical Rubber will say goodbye to another one of its summer interns, Paisley Campbell, as she returns for her senior year at SUNY Oswego where she is majoring in Technology Management. Paisley joined Mechanical Rubber in June and has spent her summer learning about the inner workings of a manufacturing company – while earning college credit.
“I learned a lot about how a company works and how everyone works together to make a product and fulfill the orders,” she said. Paisley’s responsibilities ran the gamut from trimming and cleaning products, to measuring parts for final quality inspection, to inventory and completing paperwork for current orders.
“Paisley was exposed to many manufacturing processes,” said Gary Lyon in the Quality Control department, “where she picked up the job quickly and was definitely an asset during her time here.”
“After completing her time working in the factory, Paisley came into the office to work with me,” said Alisa Sherow in the Compliance department. She worked on production and efficiency spreadsheets while learning about the processes behind a lot of systems and quality certifications that Mechanical Rubber has earned. In this capacity, she was also able to see how everyone plays a key element in the order process.
Reputation is critical to any company. A key element to Mechanical Rubber’s efforts for Continual Improvement is to compile results from our annual Customer Satisfaction survey. “Paisley took ownership of this year’s program by contacting all qualifying customers with a web link to the survey,” said Lisa Rice in the Sales / Marketing department. “She compiled the results, and handled follow up. It’s a time-consuming and tedious project, but one that is very important. I feel it was a good opportunity for her to see how important it is to have communication, not only with those you work with, but also with those you work for.”
“We are happy to open the doors of the company to young, vibrant minds. At Mechanical, we’ve been running a summer internship program for years, as well as providing job shadowing opportunities for high school seniors. For graduates who may seek a non-college path, we offer apprenticeships that put them right into the workforce. Being a business owner in a small community, I feel everyone has a responsibility to help the next generation thrive and grow. It’s truly been a pleasure having Paisley join us this summer and we wish her well in her future endeavors,” said President / CEO Cedric Glasper.
Heading back a few weeks early for RA (Residential Assistant) training, the SS Seward alum will also be saying a sad goodbye to the newest addition of her family, a cat named Sesame that her parents adopted while she was away last year. When she graduates from Oswego in May 2020, it is Paisley’s intention to work as a product designer, potentially starting her own virtual company that she can operate from home or anywhere her path takes her.
For more information on the Mechanical Rubber internship program, visit https://mechanicalrubber.com/internship/
Fifty years ago, the world was glued to their television sets as the United States of America became the first, and to this day only, nation to have a successful lunar landing mission. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin exited the LEM (Lunar Expedition Module) onto the surface of the moon while Michael Collins orbited in the Command Module waiting for them to return for their successful return to Earth. The mission was the first of six lunar landings and visits to the surface of the moon.
At Mechanical Rubber, we all take great pride in the fact that we played a small part in this history-making mission. Mechanical Rubber was chosen to supply a High Pressure Window Gasket for the LEM, as displayed in the photo of employees outside the Warwick plant due to our ability to provide rubber compounds that meet stringent specification requirements; a capability we maintain to this day.
Recently Mechanical Rubber was chosen to supply mounting pads for the International Space Station after engineers discovered our rubber compound met their strict requirements for this new application.
Mechanical Rubber President and CEO Cedric Glasper was selected to participate in the recent New York State Export Promotion Trade Mission in Israel from March 24 – 28 through the Global NY State Trade Expansion Program Grant program. The NY contingent stayed in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and included tours of Beersheba, Military Industries, Bedouin Village in Negev, Arad, the Dead Sea, Old City and Western Wall Tunnels.
The visit included many mix and match meetings for the companies represented with the goal of creating business partnerships between Israeli companies and New York businesses.
“It was a great experience,” said Glasper. “I see a great deal of opportunity and look forward to working with several partners in Israel going forward. I’m already reviewing some projects and see a lot of growth potential.”
“The mission provided a great training and marketing tool, in that you have to practice public speaking and network with like businesses and mission colleagues. It offers exposure for you and your business to opportunities you may have never known about.”
“It was my first time visiting Israel,” he continued. “Getting a glimpse into the culture of the country provided insight and perspective that would never have been possible through phone or email contact. It was an excellent trip and an opportunity that will provide new business for Mechanical Rubber.”
Following a recent trip with the New York State Export Promotion Trade Mission to Israel, Cedric Glasper talked to Baltimore Jewish Life’s Sharon Altshul about his trip.
Cedric Glasper, President and CEO of Mechanical Rubber in Warwick attended the Manufacturing Lobby Day in Albany on Wednesday, March 6 and served as a member of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY) Economic Development and Taxes lobby group. This group had two objects: supporting tax parity and opposing prevailing wage mandates.
The first, to demonstrate his support for tax parity for all manufacturers, which would include extending to S-Corps (small to medium manufacturers) the same tax rate reduction already granted to C-Corps (large manufacturers) in the 2019-2020 state budget. Reducing tax rates for the C-Corps in 2014 grew manufacturing in the state, seeing New York move to one of the Top Ten states for manufacturing from the Bottom Ten. With the roughly two-thirds majority of manufacturers in New York being small and medium S-Corps currently paying the second highest income tax rate in the state, a tax reduction equivalent to the one granted the C-Corps is expected to promote growth and expansion and keep these businesses from moving to more tax-friendly states. According to a September 2018 study by the Beacon Institute, extending the corporate franchise tax rate to small and medium sized manufacturers would add 4,600 private sector jobs the first year and cause a $118 million rise in investment.
The second objective was to voice opposition to Bill S.1947 / A.1261 that would impose a prevailing wage mandates on private sector construction statewide. The State Department of Labor calculated prevailing wage, in some local labor markets, can be much higher than the typical wage. This would make the costs of construction prohibitive in many areas of the state and impact affordable housing, historic preservation, renewable energy and nonprofits. The mandate would also include off-site fabrication of building materials, which would potentially damage interstate and international commerce.
Glasper stresses the importance of manufacturers getting involved. “It is imperative that all manufacturers speak out to make sure we are properly represented in New York State, and nationally,” he said. “That shows how viable we are in our local and regional community workforce.”
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was the Key Note Speaker at the MACNY sponsored luncheon held at the Fort Orange Club. Besides serving as President of the New York State Senate, Hochul is the chair of the Regional Economic Development Council and the State Workforce Investment Board and co-chairs the State’s Heroin and Opiod Abuse Task Force. In her address, she stated that one of the biggest challenges to manufacturers right now is the lack of a skilled workforce. Glasper couldn’t agree more.
“The Lt. Governor is absolutely correct,” he commented. “It’s a very frustrating situation to be in, when you have the business, but you don’t have the skilled labor to produce your product. I am always looking to add workforce and enhance my team at Mechanical Rubber.”
Glasper serves as a board member on the Orange County Workforce Investment Board, the Council of Industry of Southeast New York, and Manufacturers Association of Central New York. He has served on the Finance and Investment Committee for the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan and is past president of the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Greenwood Lake Revitalization Committee.