Lancaster rubber manufacturer’s success stretches across the globe

The team at White Cross Rubber Products.
The team at White Cross Rubber Products.

The UK’s specialist rubber sheeting and rubber coated textile manufacturer is celebrating a trio of project wins that have taken its products across the country and overseas.

White Cross Rubber Products Limited, which is based at Lancaster’s White Cross Business Park, has just completed the supply of waterproof lining membranes on a project for English Heritage to repair the historically significant Thomas Telford’s Engine Arm Aqueduct, near Smethwick in the West Midlands, as well as a major project to line a series of service reservoirs on St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

The team at White Cross Rubber Products.

The team at White Cross Rubber Products.

Both utilise materials from the firm’s inimitable Butylite waterproof membranes rubber product range, the only product of its type created in the UK.

It is also currently involved in manufacturing tube seals for floating-roof bulk fuel storage tanks in China.

Add this to the list of less than ordinary industries that the firm is already involved in – including rubber materials for flexible fuel tanks for F1 and IndyCar motor racing and storage containment barriers for the holds of Airbus planes – to the manufacture of pressure pads for multi-layer security cards and providing liquid storage materials for emergency drinking water and latrines for aid and refugee camps, and you start to see a picture emerging of an exciting and innovative business in the heart of Lancaster.

Managing director Rod Harper said: “People are surprised when they hear the list of industries we’re involved in from our base in Lancaster.

“We believe we are the only company of our kind in the UK that has the capability to provide such an integrated offering to our clients.

“Most of our competitors can offer only one part of the manufacturing process – for example, they can only provide calendaring of rubber or spread coating of textiles.

“The fact that we can provide both in-house, alongside other ancillary services, and can control it to deliver total uniformity within our ISO9001 accredited systems, is really unique.

“We also provide to our customers the ability to adapt and innovate, through solid investment in our plant and equipment, excellent service across everything from delivery to stock holding, and valuable technical expertise and support.

“Importantly, we model ourselves on being a closely integrated extension to our customer’s own team and this has been, and will continue to be, the philosophy of our business.”

This seems to be a formula that works for White Cross Rubber Products, which has been in operation for more than 33 years and still retains many of its original clients.

Turnover for the company has increased significantly in the last 5 years, with an impressive 12 per cent growth in the last financial year alone.

“Our 12 per cent growth this year is fantastic, given the current climate, and is a real credit to the commitment of the whole team.

“We have all been working really hard to build this however, by diversifying our product portfolio and growing our existing customer’s accounts, supporting them with specialist products to grow their own base.

“We started focusing more on web in 2009, and this has definitely been another growth factor for us recently, seeing an increasing volume of enquiries from all areas of the world.”

With enquiries increasing from both the UK and worldwide, exports too have grown substantially.

Over the last three years, White Cross Rubber Products has seen its exports grow from four per cent to 24 per cent, with its products now being exported to 25 countries worldwide.

Formed in 1983, White Cross Rubber Products Limited was created from the former Storey’s Industrial Products rubber division by ex-employees, including current MD Rod Harper and former directors Vernon Williams and Alex Young, who put together a financial package to fund the acquisition and set up White Cross Rubber Products Ltd.

In 1997, Harper became the sole owner of White Cross Rubber Products. Six years later his daughter Karen Bax joined the company and is now commercial & HR director, followed by his son, Philip Harper, in 2009, who is now sales & marketing director, which has seen the firm develop into a family run business that looks forward to the future with confidence.

Today, White Cross Rubber Products employs a dedicated team of local people at its head office, laboratory and manufacturing plant in Lancaster and is proud of the fact that despite very difficult times during the global recession period the company has never made anyone redundant.

Mr Harper added: “We’re committed to growth both in the UK and through exports, but we’ll stick to the same philosophy that we’ve always had.

“We find opportunities where we can add value to our customer’s businesses from our Lancaster base, which has been a successful strategy for us for the last 30 years.”