Vip Rubber and Plastic in Minden focuses on plastic extrusion products
For The NNBW
After 55 years of manufacturing in Southern California, Vip Rubber and Plastic in late 2015 purchased 53,000-square-feet of manufacturing space on Heybourne Road in Minden to expand its plastics extrusion operations. The family-owned and operated business started by Howard Vipperman, Sr. in 1961 began production in Northern Nevada in January 2016.
When longtime employees George Phillips, Jr. and his brother, Chris Phillips, first learned about the expansion to Minden, they knew it meant moving from their home in Southern California to assist with the expansion of Vip’s plastic extrusion facility. They jumped at the opportunity.
Their father, George Phillips Sr., has worked for Vip for more than 35 years. He’s groomed both his sons to follow in his footsteps in the rubber and plastic extrusion industry.
“From the ground up, he really imparted his wisdom and work ethic onto myself and my brother – plastic is in our blood,” says George Jr., plant manager for the company’s Minden facility. “We hit the ground running – working with our father brings out the best in us.”
Vip Rubber and Plastic makes plastic and rubber extrusions for a wide range of customers. For instance, the company makes the extruded plastic bumpers found around the top of wire shopping carts in most retail and big box stores. Approximately 35 percent of its rubber products are used in the aerospace industry, such as the seals found in airplane windows or on the bottom of lavatory doors. It also makes rubber seals found on automobile doors, and the tubing used by hospitals for intravenous drip lines. Another product line is rubber sheeting that’s used either as a vibration dampener or for other machines to punch out thousands of gaskets.
The Minden facility is focused solely on advancing Vip’s extensive line of plastic extrusion products. The company recently expanded its Carson Valley facilities with an additional 5,000-square-foot building dedicated to storing raw materials. The new building not only safeguards all raw materials but allows for increased production, George Phillips Jr. says. When the company first began operations, it split its facility between extrusion machines and storage space. Now, the main facility houses 15 extrusion machines, and all raw materials are kept in a separate building.
“Production is doing very well out here,” he says. “We are creating new and innovative products, such as tri-extrusion and quad-extrusion – the possibilities are endless.
“In order to keep up with demand, we needed to add more extrusion lines, so we had to find a solution for raw material storage,” Phillips adds. “Fortunately, we had plenty of space to build a storage facility behind the main building.”
Housing raw materials separate from the extrusion lines better positions the company to safeguard its raw materials and deliver high-quality plastic products, adds Cindy LeClair, vice president of marketing for Vip Rubber and Plastic Company.
With rubber, organic materials can travel through the air and contaminate the rubber if they are stored too closely together. Materials such as silicone have to be kept away from inorganic materials. The new storage space allows Vip Rubber and Plastic to keeps materials totally separated and sorted by location, type of material and color.
“It really guarantees that materials are going to be exactly the way they were ordered and true their nature,” LeClair says. “We pride ourselves on quality, so good storage allows us to stay organized and maintain the integrity of each material and avoid any cross-contamination. We can be certain our customers receive parts that are free of dust and debris, and everything will work as planned.”
Vip Rubber and Plastic chose Minden to expand its operations for many reasons. The company’s headquarters at La Habra in Orange County is prime real estate — land in Southern California can be extremely expensive, and the state’s stiff business and environmental regulations regarding manufacturing firms also can prove stifling for innovation and expansion efforts. The company employs more than 200.
Minden’s business-friendly culture, coupled with lack of a state tax in Nevada, were two primary factors in the company’s decision to add a second location in the Carson Valley.
“We absolutely love California, and have a long history here. However, it can be a challenge to be a manufacturer in California in many ways,” LeClair says. “We wanted to expand to an area that was very friendly in terms of manufacturing so we could keep our costs down and pass that to our customers. Going to Minden and having room and space to expand has allowed our plastics department to thrive.”
Phillips agrees that the move has allowed Vip’s plastics business to flourish. He credits many Douglas County officials with their help in getting the company established in Northern Nevada and obtaining the necessary permits to begin operations.
“We wouldn’t be as successful if it weren’t for the Douglas County community – they really helped guide us when we were starting out,” Phillips says. “We were very fortunate to move into a community like this.”
The only real issue the company has had with its facilities expansion in the region is finding enough staff. Phillips says Vip Rubber and Plastic, which employs 60 at its Minden location, has 18 unfilled production positions. The company has a training program in place to hire unskilled workers who eventually will run the massive extrusion machinery.
“We are struggling with employment, but are hopeful we will find some great employees to join with us,” Phillips says.
Longtime journalist Steve Ranson, editor emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News — a sister publication of the NNBW — has published the 280-page book “Legacies of the Silver State: Nevada Goes to War.”