Western New York had a booming manufacturing base when Prince Rubber & Plastics Co. Inc. got its start back in 1931. So Prince fit right in. Founder Sidney W. Prince worked with early electro chemical pioneers and tapped into Western New York's resources to create his business. CEO S. Warren Prince Jr. says several factors were on his father's side like the continual growth of the Electro Chemical industry in Niagara Falls and cheap sources of salt to make chemicals which are used in products from bleaches to plastics to paint.
Today Prince has developed into a specialty manufacturer of parts, making gaskets and pipes for the chemical industry. Company officials say their parts and pieces have evolved along with technology and they are now a premier provider of quality products. "We have an expertise in the types of materials we produce and how to do things for these particular chemical segments," said company president Tom Hanshar. "And we also have developed an ability to sell ourselves in different parts of the world ." He says that challenge is not easy, unless you have a high quality product. "Somebody in France or Saudi Arabia or Chile or Singapore.. why do they want to deal with some company from the U.S.?" he said. "They better have some pretty good reason why. We have to be able to give customers a reason why they want to deal with us."
Pleasing international customers is a fairly new concern for Prince Rubber & Plastics. Hanshar says until the late 1990s, Prince was very busy with its North American customer base. But as the production industry here matured, the company was forced to look elsewhere for customers. "We have resident agents throughout most of the heavily industrialized parts of the world, typically Europe, the Persian Gulf, the Pacific Rim, from Korea to Australia and of course, our sister continent, South America," S. Warren Prince Jr. said.
That does not mean Prince Rubber & Plastics has been immune to the slowing economy. 2007 revenues were $7.9 million, according to the Business First Top Private Companies list. They dipped a bit in 2008 to $7.7 million. Prince has managed to maintain its employee base at its three plants.
Prince is confident that the future is bright for this longtime manufacturing company, which ranks 93rd among Western New York's largest private companies. Vice president Rene Kalynycz says there are signs of economic recovery evident among customers in the chemical industry. "We have seen some customers with cell rooms shutdown who are starting them back up and doing rebuilds, things like that," she said. "So yes, we have seen it especially this year, a little bit of an up tick and we sense from our customers that there's more to come next year."
Kalynycz says while the technology and parts may change, the industry isn't going anywhere and Prince says neither is his family. His wife, Bonnie, is on the board of directors along with two of his daugthers, Allison and Syndey Anne. His daughter Jennifer is vice president of marketing at Prince, representing the third generation. "We look forward to new generations of the family to carry us to even greater heights," Prince said.