Arnold’s Sinclair & Rush is a Global Plastics Powerhouse
At a cocktail party scene in the Oscar-winning movie The Graduate a man corners Dustin Hoffman’s character and says, “Ben, I just want to say one word to you…Are you listening? Plastics. There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”
That movie scene today could certainly apply to Sinclair & Rush, Inc., the global manufacturing company headquartered at 123 Manufacturers Drive in Arnold.
Sinclair & Rush is one of the fastest-growing and most successful manufacturers of plastic, rubber and vinyl products for industrial applications on earth.
It has U.S. manufacturing operations in Arnold and Fenton, as well as in Carlstadt, New Jersey. Its overseas plants are in Maidstone and Rochester, England; Changzhou, China; and Riverstone, Australia.
How many Sinclair & Rush products are in use around the world today?
“Billions,” candidly says Bradford M. Philip, the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer since 2010. Philip was previously Executive Vice President and General Manager. He joined the company in 1995 as Corporate Controller.
“If you visit a Lowe’s or Home Depot store, the majority of the rakes and shovels have our grips on them – they are all made in Arnold and sold all over the country,” Philip says.
Yet big home and garden stores are just one of numerous industry sectors for Sinclair & Rush.
Sinclair & Rush was founded in 1950 by George Sinclair and Wayne Rush, two entrepreneurs who saw the post-war potential of making small, protective flexible caps.
They began the enterprise in their kitchens in houses where they lived in south St. Louis. “As their business began to grow, their spouses ordered them out of the kitchen,” explains Philip with a chuckle.
They ultimately moved the company into two buildings in south St. Louis where they developed different plastic products and the firm began to steadily grow.
In 1978, the entrepreneurs sold their company to two seasoned manufacturing executives, Vincent T. Gorguze, who had recently retired as President of Emerson Electric Company, and John J. Henry, who had also recently retired after a long and distinguished career in manufacturing. This duo began expanding Sinclair & Rush by acquiring small and mid-sized companies with similar operations and good track records.
In 1994, they constructed the building at 123 Manufacturers Drive in Arnold. They moved the company headquarters into that 125,000 square foot facility and established a production plant there, where now 250 employees work in manufacturing, sales, customer service and financial operations.
Today, Sinclair & Rush has three main branded operations:
- StockCap, maker of vinyl, plastic and rubber caps and plugs.
- GripWorks, maker of vinyl, foam and rubber grips and tubing.
- VisiPak, maker of clear tubes and tube containers, plastic clamshells, trays and blister packaging, clear folding boxes and more.
Given these diverse product lines, it is not unusual to see everything from golf balls to candy and cosmetics packaged for sale in clear plastic tubes made by Sinclair & Rush – not to mention thousands of additional products for retail and industrial applications.
Jeff Barket, Director of Sales & Marketing, notes that the company serves automotive products, sporting goods, exercise equipment, HVAC, electrical, housing, finishing, lawn & garden, hand tools and various other retail, industrial and medical applications. Its major markets are North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Australia. Sinclair & Rush sells its products online and catalogs can be seen at http://www.stockcap.com, http://www.gripworks.com and http://www.visipak.com.
In addition to the 250 employees in Arnold, about 150 people work in the company’s 100,000 square foot plant a few miles away in Fenton. Worldwide, Sinclair & Rush has a total of about 650 employees.
For a company with so much product diversity, as well as more than 20,000 customers, 650 employees seems like a low number.
“We run things pretty lean – we don’t have lots of layers of management,” says Philip. “We have been fortunate to find and retain good employees in the Arnold area and, also, for every plant location. Most of our local plant employees live in Arnold or nearby in Jefferson County.”
“The people who work here are a very dedicated group,” Philip continues. “Many of our employees have worked here at the Arnold plant for 30 or 40 years. It seems like when we hire someone if they stay for the initial 1 ½ or two years, they will stay forever. We are proud of our workforce.”
Charlie Hawes has worked in the Arnold plant for 34 years. Now 58 years old, he says, “This place is like a home to me. It’s a good place to work. I plan to retire in a few years when I am done working here.”
During the economic recession of 2008-2009 in the U.S., Sinclair & Rush and most manufacturing companies were adversely affected, particularly those in construction-related industries, Philip says.
“During the recession, we bent over backwards to help our existing customers any way that we could. By adjusting shipping schedules and offering better inventory management we were able to assist and retain the vast majority of our customers during this period. I think that reflects our total commitment to providing world-class customer service,” Philip says.
Starting after the recession ended in 2010, Sinclair & Rush renewed its tradition of acquiring other companies. In recent years the company has acquired National Plastics Inc. of St Louis, a thermoform manufacturer; Tulox Plastics Corporation of Marion, Indiana, a manufacturer of clear plastic packaging containers; and Component Force Ltd. of Kent, England, a manufacturer and distributor of product protection solutions.
“These acquisitions complement our long-term strategies to increase our product offerings and market reach. The synergies created with these acquisitions allow us to offer the broadest line of product protection and packaging products, from development to delivery, of any company in the industry.” Philip says.
“Since we made these acquisitions, our company has more than doubled in size in terms of revenue, facilities and employees,” Philip says.
“Our ownership group has challenged us with a goal of 30 percent growth in the near term and we intend on achieving this goal,” he continues.
“The group is very supportive of acquisitions that make sense, that are a good fit for us and which complement and enhance our manufacturing and distribution operations. We have no intentions of pulling up stakes or moving out. We’re going to be in Arnold for a long time.”
Story by Jeff Dunlap