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Rubber products have traditionally been associated with environmental concerns due to their manufacturing procedure and non-biodegradable synthetic materials. Rubber products also generate significant amounts of greenhouse gas and toxic substances during combustion. However, U.S. Rubber has developed an innovative solution to ensure sustainable consumption and production of sports flooring, underlayment, and vegetation control. With recycled materials and the greatest talent acquisition program, “Bounce Back”, U.S. Rubber promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialization with full and productive employment. U.S. Rubber undoubtedly reformulates a new definition of rubber that can become a sustainable product.
U.S. Rubber firmly believes in second chances for all and embraces a sustainable approach. By utilizing used truck tires and post-industrial tire rubber in California, they effectively diverted over 13 million pounds of post-consumer waste from local landfills in 2022. As the largest user of recycled crumb rubber, U.S. Rubber partnered with CalRecycle, the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, to collect and acquire truck tires as raw materials, reducing both local landfill waste and the carbon footprint throughout the supply chain within California. Their manufacturing efforts have resulted in the creation of long-lasting, custom-colored, and LEED-certified fitness flooring and underlayment materials, meeting the high-performance green building standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Leveraging rubber's exceptional sound and impact absorption properties, U.S. Rubber maximizes the utilization of recycled content, reaching up to 94% in their products, with the remaining 6% serving as the necessary binder. Jeff Baldassari, President and CEO of U.S. Rubber, emphasized that these recycled products align with his strong belief in sustainability and his commitment to creating an inclusive workplace that welcomes individuals, including ex-felons and U.S. military veterans.
U.S. Rubber has implemented a specific hiring program called "Bounce Back", which was introduced by CEO Jeff after assuming the position in June 2020. Although the company had previously undertaken similar initiatives, they were ineffective due to an unsupportive workplace environment that hindered the growth of employees. “People are at its core,” stated Jeff. Recognizing the significance of people within the organization, Jeff approached this program with utmost dedication and successfully transformed the workplace into an inclusive culture. U.S. Rubber, as an employer committed to a supportive, inclusive, and open-minded environment, firmly believes that everyone, including ex-felons, can flourish in a respected and appreciated environment. Upholding this belief in the potential of individuals, U.S. Rubber is dedicated to providing opportunities for personal growth and improvement to all who aspire to better themselves. The company also offers continuous training courses and a promotion mechanism to empower program participants in their journey toward a renewed and fulfilled life.
“My father used to say everything in life is easy until people get involved,” expressed Jeff. He acknowledged the challenge of finding the right individuals and training them to align with the company's goals, which becomes an even more significant hurdle. Amid the disruptive impact of the pandemic that caused supply chain disruptions, U.S. Rubber faced a doubling of sales while contending with shortages of raw materials and labor. To address these issues and maintain competitiveness, Jeff made the decision to formalize the "Bounce Back" program. A similar approach was taken 20 years ago. Still, it was not systematic, so this time, Jeff aims to expand the labor pool by specifically identifying, seeking, and welcoming individuals seeking a second chance. U.S. Rubber provides on-the-job training, learning opportunities, and continuous assessment to facilitate employee transformation and foster a sense of belonging. Embracing the spirit and culture of the successful program, U.S. Rubber even created shirts adorned with the "Bounce Back" logo which Jeff wore for the interview.
Recognizing the pivotal role of people within the company, U.S. Rubber places significant emphasis on building the right team. Jeff emphasized, "People are the most important thing in any organization. If you don't have the right people, even if you have the greatest strategies in the world, you will fail." Understanding the importance of career growth, U.S. Rubber not only focuses on hiring the right individuals but also provides a comprehensive promotion and career advancement mechanism to empower employees and maximize their contributions. With pride and gratitude, Jeff acknowledged the success of the company's commitment to nurturing talent from within. “Some of them, you know, have risen to become leaders of the organization,” Jeff smiled.
U.S. Rubber has achieved an extraordinary feat, turning its mission of transforming discarded tires into sustainable rubber flooring into a reality while simultaneously providing opportunities for employees to rebuild their lives and unlock their full potential. Through its collaboration with CalRecycle, the company acquired more than 830,000 used truck tires from recently closed grant cycles, using them as a valuable source of raw materials. These tires were considered waste, but now they are given a new lease on life as they are transformed into sound and vibration-absorbing materials, serving the dual purpose of reducing environmental impact by decreasing the demand for new raw materials in producing flooring products. In 2023, U.S. Rubber is projected to divert an impressive 18 million pounds of post-consumer tire rubber from local landfills, surpassing last year's diversion rate by over 35%.
U.S. Rubber's impact extends beyond environmental sustainability; it has fostered a supportive workplace that provides individuals with a second chance in life. In 2022, 66% of the factory workforce was recruited through the "Bounce Back" program. The company's commitment to helping individuals seeking a fresh start has yielded remarkable success, and it has expanded its efforts to assist U.S. military veterans in their transition to civilian life. U.S. Rubber firmly believes that its contributions to the community and the environment will pave the way for a brighter future and impact on the world. As Jeff stated, “Our people are benefiting. Their life and personal life are doing wonderful and now they have a solid income incoming in, they have made their great choices to work here because their lives are stable.”
U.S. Rubber's commitment to sustainable innovation and the use of recycled materials has allowed it to stand out in the market, attracting environmentally conscious customers and driving significant business growth. With a doubling of sales volume since 2019, the company has had to invest in expanding its infrastructure to support its growing operations. To ensure a stable supply of raw materials, U.S. Rubber has established a strong supply chain, partnering with CalRecycle to source used truck tires locally within California. This localized approach has helped mitigate risks associated with raw material storage and disruptions caused by the pandemic. Additionally, the company's positive brand image has opened up new business opportunities and attracted talented individuals to join the organization, further fueling its success.
U.S. Rubber's inclusive workplace culture, coupled with its comprehensive career advancement and training programs, fosters employee engagement and retention, creating a cohesive and skilled workforce. In the manufacturing industry, where knowledge and experience are crucial, this approach gives U.S. Rubber a competitive edge in producing quality flooring and underlayment products. The "Bounce Back" program further expands the company's talent pool, ensuring a steady labor force and attracting diverse teams that contribute to the company's success. By prioritizing people development and implementing sustainable management policies, U.S. Rubber lays a solid foundation for long-term growth and prosperity.
U.S. Rubber is a company that brings numerous social and environmental benefits. They effectively reduce waste by utilizing recycled materials and preventing millions of pounds of used truck tires from ending up in landfills. Moreover, the company plays a vital role in society by providing employment opportunities for individuals seeking a second chance, enabling them to rebuild their lives. U.S. Rubber fosters an inclusive and equitable workplace culture while producing sustainable flooring, underlayment, and vegetation control products. By combining environmental stewardship with social responsibility, U.S. Rubber exemplifies a win-win situation, creating positive outcomes for both people and the planet. As Jeff accordingly stated, "Everybody is winning from this."
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Jeff Baldassari, President and CEO