Exhibitor Interview: Gary Mottershead, President of GCp Industrial Products (Rubatex)
Gary Mottershead, President/Owner of GCP Industrial Products. GCP owns the Rubatex Sponge Rubber brand, which will be on display at Foam Expo 2018.
With over 20 years’ experience working with rubber and industrial products, Gary’s background is in manufacturing and chemical engineering. But he considers himself first and foremost an entrepreneur. In 1998, Gary sold his first company, Recovery Technologies, which sold tire recycling facilities around the world. In 1999 he founded his current company, GCP Industrial Products. GCP develops and delivers high-performance, custom and standard industrial materials. The firm is comprised of eight individual brands (including Rubatex), each serving its marketplace in different ways, but all with the same focus on delivering on price, quality and consistency.
Given Rubatex’s long presence in the foam industry, can you provide with a short overview of how this current version of Rubatex came together?
The revitalization of Rubatex came about because of the way we have always operated our business at GCP. We listen to our customers’ needs and find ways to help them grow their business. In 2012 we had a customer with an issue in the sponge rubber business. We first attempted to help him by manufacturing sponge products offshore, but we experienced issues in getting the right densities and right cost structure in place. At around the same time we learned that Rubatex was up for sale, and after some due diligence we decided to purchase the Rubatex brand name, molds, formulations – basically everything that was important to the intellectual property of the brand. With that in place, we were able to begin putting the business back together. Through a mix of mutual opportunity, technical superiority and quality control standards, we decided the best place to begin production was right here in the United States. That decision has no doubt been the right one and has been a tremendous asset for us and for the industry.
Which customer or market demands were the biggest drivers of Rubatex’s growth during the past three years?
Our major partner, Rubberite Cypress Sponge, has been the largest catalyst for us. Their converting and distribution abilities have been critical in helping us get Rubatex products back into the hands of end users around the globe. With sponge material finding its way into many applications, the gasket industry stands far and away our largest market. A close second are the automotive and transportation industries, where sponge can be used for many major applications.
Building off the last question, in terms of the market demands you mentioned, did you see a position where Rubatex fits versus some of the existing players?
Yes, definitely. Before we re-entered the market, the average American sponge consumer was limited in their supply options. To make matters more complicated, the players who were left had forged major partnerships with certain customers in the industry. This created a situation where there wasn’t much opportunity for anyone else. Our emergence creates an opening to help all those who might have been lost in the previous supply chain structure. We know from recent research we’ve conducted, that one the top five profit-killing issues for a company is an inefficient supply chain. When you participate in a highly aligned supply chain and you are not the supplier’s top customer, you are likely facing a competitive disadvantage. In Rubatex, you have a recognizable name, a strong product offering and the ability to provide an option for companies that were basically being cut out.
What would you say are the key challenges and opportunities currently faced by the industry?
I think the largest challenge focuses on leadership. Most of the material being sold comes from products developed many years ago; we're not seeing much product innovation. Leadership will be needed to integrate right from the end user through the development phase so that new compounds or materials can be created. From our point of view, we are not seeing the coordination between end users and producers. This is where I see the next phase of opportunities originating from – that coordination and cooperation so materials can be improved and designed with intention. Having recently returned from a gasket industry association meeting, we intend to seek integration opportunities with companies that have the same kinds of interests as us.
What is Rubatex's approach to strategic partnerships and what kinds of partnerships are you most open to exploring?
We look for like-minded companies. Companies who want to be innovative, who are willing to step outside of simply being a transactional company. We look for those who have real interests in solving industry problems, and want to be part of the solution. We understand alignment and cooperation are essential to the success of a partnership, so we look for those who can complement the materials we have and have a technical capability directly through to the end user.
What type of response are you anticipating at the show this year?
Well, I have to say we are pretty excited because last year was the first time we put Rubatex on display and it was a bit of a risk for us because we were reintroducing the brand to the industry. However, we could not have been more pleased with the reception we received. Last year was a great show for us, to be in there with our customers, talk shop, introduce ourselves to new prospects. It was a tremendous few days from that perspective. For year two, we expect to build on what we started in year one. For Rubatex to be relied on as a viable alternative, we understand that we must be there for people today, tomorrow, the next day, the next year, and so on.
Why are you exhibiting and what connections do you hope to make there?
We exhibit because we believe in the industry and we believe it needs a fresh face, a company that can bring options. In a world where consolidation will continue to take place, people need viable alternatives to help them grow their business. Given the need we see in the foam industry and the greater uses cellular rubber can provide, someone needs to be there to be innovative. This is something GCP (Rubatex’s Parent Company) has always done; we know that innovative companies grow three times faster than those who are traditional. We want to be in a position to provide a new voice, one that listens, one that will be innovative, and one that provides solutions to customers not only in North America but also in the international marketplace. That’s what Foam Expo can do for us – it can bring all these people from around the world to one place where we can meet, discuss ideas and promote advancements in the industry.
Rubatex exhibited at Foam Expo North America 2018.