Five Qs: Randy Rubin of Crypton Inc.
Founded in 1993, Bloomfield Hills-based Crypton Inc. develops and manufactures stain-resistant upholstery fabrics used by businesses including Henry Ford Hospital, PNC Bank locations, and Marriott Hotels, among others. DBusiness Daily News spoke with Randy Rubin, the company’s co-founder, about recent acquisitions, American-made products, and trends in the textile business.
1. DDN: Crypton started in Michigan just over 20 years ago. How has the business climate changed since then?
RR: When we first started in 1993, the business climate wasn’t nearly as pro-Michigan or pro-Detroit as it is today. We didn’t brag about coming from Detroit the way we do today. We just bought a global company (Nano-Tex), and our press release, which was titled “From Silicon Valley to Motown,” got us 2 million impressions (through social and traditional media).
While our headquarters is in Michigan, we manufacture in North Carolina. We originally outsourced our manufacturing, but it became apparent that, for quality purposes, we had to make it ourselves. So we opened our factory in 2003 and it has already expanded. We have 125,000 square feet, and we anticipate adding to the building for extended research capabilities. We’re outgrowing that building, we certainly outgrew our office in West Bloomfield, and we picked up a lot more space in Bloomfield Hills. We’re expanding all over the place.
2. DDN: Why did you decide to bring back your manufacturing processes to the U.S.?
RR: We’ve put a stake in the ground: we will only work with American mills in the United States. We do make fabric in China, but we only sell it there. We don’t allow fabrics made in China to come into the United States. What has happened to the American mill is a horrifying story. Mills like Burlington and Mastercraft were generating close to a billion dollars a year, and now they’re gone. Any commodity mill in the U.S. is gone. We wanted to be loyal to the mills, and felt it would give us a leg up — and it has. The ‘Made in the USA’ trend started long after our mantra of supporting American mills.
We are expanding our sales in Europe, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. (The) fabrics are being exported from North Carolina, which to me, really says something for the value proposition of ‘Made in the USA.’
Also, with Crypton, and now Nano-Tex, precise performance is mandatory. As with any product that demands excellence, you need total control of the process, the inspections, testing, and shipment. Keeping it in this country makes all of this so much easier.
3. DDN: You recently acquired Nano-Tex, which opens your business to a whole new market. How will this impact your global reach?
RR: Nano-Tex already has a huge global footprint, with mills using the chemistries we produce in Europe, Asia, India, and the Middle East. It is very exciting for us to be in apparel because people are continually buying clothing. In the contract market, we wait for projects to specify Crypton for upholstery, panel fabrics, and wall coverings. With residential furniture, consumers don't make purchases that often.
The acquisition of Nano-Tex has taken our business of providing permanent stain resistance for fabrics to the apparel segment. Most of the Nano-Tex business is generated from American companies who request certain performance criteria for their fabrics for sporting, hunting, exercise, and children’s apparel, just to name a few. Before acquiring Nano-Tex, all of this development work was done in Hong Kong, which added response time for customers. Now, working together with the research team in Hong Kong, much of the development can be done in the U.S.
4. DDN: What other projects are you working on?
RR: We have developed national cleaning programs for chains such as P.F. Chang’s, where a team goes in at night and thoroughly cleans all the upholstery every six months — or more frequently if needed. We have finally figured how to get cleaning consistency no matter what part of the country the restaurant is in. We are now running tests in three other major chains and this looks to be a very promising business.
We have (also) developed a line of upholstery and leather cleaners that we are selling in the automotive world.
5. DDN: What else is in store for Crypton?
RR: Our most aggressive growth is in the area of upholstery fabric consumer furniture. We are currently showcasing this at Gorman’s Furniture (in Southfield, at Telegraph and 12 Mile roads).
Also, I truly believe that “clean” is the next buzzword to follow “green.” People want fresh, clean furnishings, clothing, air, water, and all that surrounds us. We will strive to be the premier name people think of and buy (in that segment).