BY SUSAN ERLER, Times of Northwest Indiana
LAPORTE | Newly formed UniTek Sealing Solutions plans to create a world-class manufacturing operation in the city after buying a portion of American Rubber Products.
"We formed a new company to buy an old one," UniTek Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bernel said.
The privately held UniTek purchased part of the assets and manufacturing capacity of American Rubber Products for an undisclosed price, Bernel said.
American Rubber Products continues to operate facilities in New York, Kentucky and Michigan, according to the company Web site.
UniTek will manufacture automotive seals for use in cars, trucks and RVs out of a former American Rubber Products facility at 315 Brighton Street in an industrial area of the city.
Automakers Ford, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and Buick are among users of the company's products, made of plastic compounds and formed into strips and tubes using proprietary systems, Bernel said.
UniTek's patented system is "the most efficient means of producing lightweight, cost-effective, abrasion-resistant durable sealing components" for the automotive market, Bernel said.
The products are used to seal trunks, windows, doors and other automotive parts.
UniTek's purchase of the American Rubber Products facility means 40 jobs will remain in the city, Greater LaPorte Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Tim Gropp said.
"It's really preserving 40 jobs. It's keeping equipment in use and keeping a building occupied," Gropp said. "It shows there's a commitment from local business people to invest here."
An expansion planned for sometime within the next year could add another four to five jobs, Bernel said.
Bernel was a previous owner of American Rubber Products and for nine years was on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame's business school.
"We're welcoming Jeff Bernel back to the LaPorte business community," Mayor Leigh Morris said.