Businesses around the world depend on The Zippertubing Company to tackle virtually any issue with their electrical wiring or components, including electromagnetic interference, heat or chafing, with protective solutions that are tailored to each customer’s needs.
The Zippertubing Company, an ISO 9001, IATF 16949 certificate holder, is a Chandler, Arizona-based multinational that specializes in providing versatile protection for wire, cable and tubing. The industries it serves include aerospace and defense, automotive – with an A+ VDA rating from Volkswagen – appliances, transportation, power and utility, sustainable energy, and more.
Incorporated in 1957, the company is built on four generations of experience in business and manufacturing stretching back to 1901. It has earned a reputation in the global marketplace for its expert custom solutions, and it produces over 16,000 products from its manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, China, and Japan.
“One of the biggest things that sets us apart is our custom solutions and our custom engineering,” says Dustin Face, Marketing Manager. “We have a group of engineers who all have different educational and diverse backgrounds. Let’s say for instance that there is a company that has issues with fluids, say, an oil that they have to use but the cables are continually being eaten away. Whatever that problem is, we have the engineers with the backgrounds that understand what materials are best suited for that customer’s particular application.”
The family-owned, centennial company has a rich history. Originally known as W. A. Plummer Manufacturing Co. and located in San Francisco, it began as an industrial textile producer (even producing one of the largest American flags in history) until it transitioned into aviation, electronics, and plastics in the 1950s. It was incorporated as The Zippertubing Company in Los Angeles in 1957, the same year it developed Zip-On® protection technology, its first cable management solutions product line. The company was based in Los Angeles, California until five years ago, when it moved its headquarters into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Arizona. All along this 117-year journey, The Zippertubing Company has embraced new market opportunities and technologies.
“Our company is always looking for new equipment, processes, and operations so that we can expand our capabilities,” explains Tim Mead, Operations Manager. “When a customer will come to us with a problem, we will come up with a new solution and we’ll engineer a way to manufacture something that we have never done before. We’ll spend the time and money on a new solution, new method, and manufacturing to make sure we have the right product. This allows us to have a very vast capability list, so that for future customers we can continually offer more opportunities to solve their problems.”
From its seven facilities, The Zippertubing Company does whatever is required to fulfill its customers’ needs, including training, troubleshooting, and physically visiting their locations to install products. Its company values are to foster positive relationships while focusing on innovative solutions and integrity.
“The Zippertubing Company focuses on fostering positive relationships both internal with our own employees and our own production facilities, and also external with our customers and vendors. We want to be known as a company that is excellent to work for and work with. We focus on delivering high quality products. We want to make sure that our products and solutions always work for our customers and always meet their requirements,” says Mead.
One of the ways that The Zippertubing Co. is keeping ahead of the curve is through its newfound interest in the robotics industry. The family business has streamlined its production process with its recent integration of Universal Robots (UR) into its assembly lines in response to increased demand for its thermal management products. Embracing this technology has allowed the family-owned, ISO-certified company to maintain great versatility with the variety of products it offers, while improving production times, quality, costs, and safety.
The robot enables three times the part tolerance of manual labor, and has resulted in 0 percent customer returns. While customer satisfaction is at an all-time high, The Zippertubing Company has been able to reallocate the workers that are no longer involved in the UR’s production tasks to complete more value-added services.
“It was an awesome experience to work with Universal Robots,” says Mead. “It has been really fun for us to work with them, and even now continuing to work with them on different marketing campaigns.”
But The Zippertubing Co.’s dive into robotics isn’t solely as a consumer.
“We’ve built our own robotics to help with our manufacturing, and in doing that we developed some products that we think will help the robotics industry, which we currently use in-house for our own solutions. This gave us a unique perspective in the industry being both a customer and a solution provider at the same time. We are interested in getting into the robotics and automation industries in parallel with being a customer and a player. It’s been a very unique experience,” Mead reveals.
The Zippertubing Company is involved in multiple industries, and likes to see all of them do well as the global economy grows. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) represent another sector that the business is now looking at. That growing market currently faces a lot of potential problems (and therefore solutions) with electromagnetic interference (EMI), and The Zippertubing Company is uniquely positioned as one of the few places that can develop custom EMI solutions that are suitable for that industry. UAVs require EMI shielding products that are much more lightweight than those used by other markets, as some wires have circumferences of only 1/16th of an inch.
Being a major provider of choice for big businesses, the Department of Defense, NASA and more, one other new shift in Zippertubing’s corporate evolution is moving into the consumer market, after being a solely business-to-business company for over a century. Over the last four years, The Zippertubing Company has been working to make its products more available via the internet, so that anybody – from a Fortune 500 company to an individual who needs a bit of wrap-around heat shrink to fix a chaffed wire in their family’s car – can benefit from its products.
“We do a LOT of online advertising,” says Face. “Although the print industry is still great, we can reach a lot more online, and we can track it better and gauge what’s working.”
The Zippertubing Company uses social media platforms, its own website (which receives hundreds of thousands of hits per year) and online videos to reach as many people as possible. It was even recently featured on Manufacturing Marvels. The company also participates in a variety of tradeshows, including military tradeshows, medical, and robotics, and will attend the robotics-focused Automate 2019 and in the future hopes to attend the SEMA Show for the automobile aftermarket industry.
What has been most instrumental in keeping Zippertubing going over the years is its talent. The growing company, which employs over 50 people in its Chandler office, is full of multitalented individuals who are keen on expanding their skill sets to accommodate a changing market. Tim Mead and Dustin Face were both impressed by how quickly the team adapted to the company’s new robotic work cell, and the management at the company is always looking for other new ideas and ways to expand on what the company is currently doing.
“A lot of people work with equipment, but to do it with high quality is key for us. We have been really lucky to find a good team that can do that. Our company culture supports that. We support people to do what they think is best. If someone comes up with an innovative solution – whether they are a senior manager, operator, or maintenance worker – if it’s a good idea, we will make sure we get it done. It empowers everyone here to come up with solutions and feel like they are being heard,” Mead tells us.
As a testament to that, becoming active in the direct-to-consumer market was an idea proposed by Dustin Face when he was just one month into his marketing position at The Zippertubing Company. “My boss asked me what Zippertubing was missing out on. We’ve always been B2B, so when she asked me that, I said, ‘Have we thought about the consumer market?’ It was great because I didn’t know the feedback I would get, and she said ‘That’s a great idea. Why don’t we do that!’”
That Shrink-N-Repair® product, launched in 2015, was the first of what is now upwards of 20 products that are released to companies as well as directly to end users through the company website and online marketplaces like Amazon. The niche product is actually one of Zippertubing’s Amazon Marketplace’s best sellers.
Those who are self-motivated, willing to work hard and identify room for growth, and who enjoy learning new things are set to thrive at a company like Zippertubing, which is known for being a leader in engineering custom solutions that have never before been attempted.
“The Zippertubing Company is a great place to work for. Everyone appreciates the company culture, to be able to enjoy what you do on a daily basis. Zippertubing is not a redundant process; you are always going to do something different. No matter what department you are in, whether you are in production, marketing, IT, or HR – no one day is the same as the other,” concludes Dustin Face.
Zippertubing® is a registered trademark of The Zippertubing Company.