Polymer Technologies was founded in 1989, during what was an interesting time for a changing market. Recognizing these changes and ready to take advantage of an opening in the market, the company, under its founder, President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Prybutok, fully capitalized on the opportunity and quickly became a market leader.
As Prybutok explained, “I recognized there was a transition in the industry. In the late 1980s, there were three major companies in the acoustical business in the United States, and they were all acquired by large conglomerates, one of them by a domestic conglomerate – that was my company – and two others by foreign conglomerates. One of the things I did recognize was service was going to suffer. From the day we opened our doors we focused on providing the best customer service in our industry which remains one of our primary differentiators today.”
Prybutok had previously held the role of Vice President, in charge of sales and marketing, research and development and quality control for Specialty Composites, one of the major acoustical composites companies in the US. Upon the sale of that company, he set out to establish Polymer Technologies.
“It’s a unique industry, and because the science is very unique, it’s not cut and dry. It takes a great deal of personal selling as well as a lot of technical selling and much hand-holding, especially in the earlier years.”
“The technology was a little bit of a black art,” he noted. “Acoustics is tied to physics, but when you talk about applying practical acoustics to industrial situations, that’s where it becomes as much of an art as a science.”
In only six short months, Prybutok generated enough industry support and investment capital to secure a 15,000-square-foot building to get his company off the ground. “My business plan was to start a manufacturing company to do what I had done for someone else, but to do it for me and my family and my investors,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of technical resources, but we had excellent technology, and we understood how to apply that technology.”
Polymer Technologies has since grown to over one hundred employees at three locations. From its Delaware headquarters, Polymer Technologies operates from an 86,000 square-foot modern manufacturing plant on four acres of land. Polymer Technologies’ 33,000 square-foot Polymer Molded Products division is in New Jersey, and its 6,800 square-foot Elastomeric Solutions Division (ESD) is located in Massachusetts.
“We used to promote ourselves as acoustical and thermal products, and we’ve really become a lot broader and more diversified, and energy management is a much more appropriate term,” Prybutok explained.
“We’ve developed strategic relationships throughout the years where we have been able to bring product in that was manufactured by other people, but manufactured for us. As we grew and became successful, we brought that manufacturing and that capability in-house,” he said.
“We have a great respect and great relationships with our competitors and with the industry. We have been able to grow our product line as we’ve added technology, expanded capability, and our growth has primarily been organic.”
Polymer Technologies’ abilities include complete fabrication, perforating, modern laminating, high-speed die-cutting, water-jet cutting, saw cutting, slitting and sheeting and kitting. In its New Jersey facility, Polymer produces three dimensional molded polyurethane components from several large production lines as well as large standalone molds. The ESD division combines metal to elastomers to produce isolation mounts. The company places a great deal of importance on quality and boasts thorough testing and prototyping capabilities.
“In some of the general industrial markets, we’ve got a lot more overhead than our competitors because of the more sophisticated markets we sell into such as Aerospace. They demand a high level of both technical capability and quality capability.”
Polymer Technologies has invested extensively in its quality management system, and Prybutok emphasized the importance of this. “You need to understand quality. You need to understand the technology. You need to be able to test products, so that you can verify performance. You need to be able to interface with sophisticated customers.”
“We’re not only ISO 9001 registered for general industrial, we’re also AS 9100 for aerospace and TS certified for automotive because that’s related to our company’s engine applications. We’re also ISO 14001, and for a company our size, it’s unique,” he said with pride. “In addition, we are ITAR registered because of our work in the military.”
“Power generation is also an important market. It’s one of our largest markets, and that’s both primary power and standby power. We have product in all of General Electric’s cells for the wind turbines. We supply product for solar collectors/solar panels, as well as standby and primary power generators. We are also very involved in the transportation market for specialty vehicles, heavy duty trucks, rail and engines,” Prybutok said.
The company introduced Boeing to a unique product developed by BASF, called Basotect which is a Melamine-based foam. This low-density cellular foam is hydrophilic (will readily absorb water) by nature, and Polymer Technologies developed a proprietary patented process to convert it to a hydrophobic (water-repellent) material, making it water-resistant even though it is low density and has a very open cell structure.
It worked closely with Cummins to develop products that thermally treat engines. Polymer Technologies has over-molded low-pressure hoses and other aspects of the engine with a molded polyurethane foam that can withstand Arctic conditions and helps to prevent the accumulation of condensation. Prybutok described this as “an elegant, very competitive solution.”
These diverse markets rely on the company’s products, services, and solutions for absorption, damping, barriers, filtration, and thermal management, in addition to adhesives, film facings, gaskets, isolation products and POLYFORM® custom molded products.
“We have customers in Asia, which is interesting, because we have some pretty unique product, particularly for the aerospace market, that’s been designed for China Jet. We have product that is sold through a trading company in Japan. We have product that finds itself in Europe, but a lot of it is domestic manufacturers who are buying our product and installing it in their components.”
Prybutok is always looking for new and innovative products and highlighted a product he is looking into developing with a putty-like consistency that serves well in energy management solutions. “It can be used in athletics and in military helmets. Its applications are fairly broad-based, and it takes us into differentiated product lines, which is something that is one of our core focuses. We always try to differentiate ourselves.”
Polymer has also established an international strategic agreement with Polybond of India. Polybond supplies flexible rubber and silicone hoses for industrial uses, as well as polymer and polymer metal products such as isolation mounts.
“We’re looking to transition our imported isolation mount business from suppliers in China to Polybond in India, and they would be private labeling some of our isolation mounts, but we would also be representing their silicone and rubber hoses in the United States,” explained Prybutok. The relationship will add another dimension to both companies’ market reach.
Likewise, in 2014, a company called EPSG approached Polymer Technologies with its technology in the shock and vibration isolation arena, particularly a product called DuraFlex®. This a proprietary rubber compound that was gaining no traction in the market. Though EPSG was a small company, it had a lot to offer.
Most of its manufacturing was done offshore by contract manufacturers. “We purchased their assets, and we hired all of their people, and that became our ESD division and rounded out our energy management product offerings.”
“We recognized that we had to have appropriate technology and quality products and had to have a very efficient operation, as efficient as the competition,” said Prybutok. “However, what we recognized was that Customer Intimacy was the market discipline that was going to provide us a vehicle for growth and excellence, developing that customer-intimate environment across the whole organization.”
By approaching each new problem as if it were its own, Polymer Technologies provides the resources and technical support necessary to get any job done.
In addition to its commitment to conducting business with integrity, dependability, and quality, it also upholds a green purchasing policy. Polymer Technologies is a good environmental steward that promotes sustainability and reduces its environmental impact through the purchase of environmentally preferable products, where feasible.
All of these efforts contribute to a positive work culture that is reflected in the happiness and output of its employees. Prybutok credits the administrative, technical, management, and general shop workers for their efforts in Polymer Technologies’ accomplishments.
“They are not just a pair of hands, and we have a rigorous training program for our employees. In this environment, it’s tough to find skilled factory workers, so we bring people in that are motivated, and we train and train, and there is a lot of reinforcement within the organization.”
Prybutok cited the weak industrial market as a challenge, but the company has remained resilient. “We see this turning around, and we see next year being a very good year for us,” he said.
Polymer Technologies is on a path that could see it double over the next three to five years. “Our goal is to grow carefully and cautiously but to grow.” Prybutok insists that growth will be careful and not happen simply for the sake of growth.
Polymer Technologies is currently in the process of bringing together its sales team in a multiday seminar to revamp the sales process, improve its web presence, and identify new opportunities for business development. In doing so, it is going after new markets and customers with the potential to benefit greatly from Polymer Technologies’ outstanding noise control and energy management solutions.