Originally Published on Rubber & Plastics News |Jennifer Kaprus-Romain | Rubber News Correspondent | February 27, 2023


DES PLAINES, Ill.—Rahco Rubber hit its 50th year in business in 2022, but t

he company is not resting on its laurels. Rahco continues to push forward with its aim of being a great company for employees and customers.

“We have a really great environment here. I see people laughing and really enjoying one another,” Rahco Rubber President Steve Anton told Rubber News. “I always thought that we never wanted anyone to not look forward to coming to work. If the job becomes a soul crusher, then we’ve failed them.”

The family-operated manufacturer opened in 1976, and there were just four

employees at that time. Now, the company has grown to have nearly 100.

Employees-first mentality

Rahco leadership recognizes that all employees have the right to have meaningful training experiences and engagement to help them succeed in their jobs. With this, the company has a structured orientation and onboarding program as well, and soft- and technical-skills training for career advancement.

“Our employees’ programs and incentives are very important because it has been helping us improve performance and engagement,” Anton said. “Rahco Rubber does not just focus on rewarding high performance; we focuson helping employees to enhance their skills and help them to follow their career path.”

Rahco’s current programs and incentives include a mentorship program, a referral program, above and beyond recognition, and employee appreciation events.

Rahco has a significant percentage of employees that have been working with the company between 25-45 years.

“I am very proud to be the first female, certified hi-lo driver ever at Rahco,” Production Team LeaderHazly Juarez said. “I am happy to

work here because Rahco gives everyone the same opportunity to grow professionally. I hope to stay here until my retirement.

“I have worked at other companies that would just allow you stay where you’re at. Supervisors here ask: ‘Where do you see yourself in a year or three years from now?’ ”

Jonathan Vargas, a new machine operator at Rahco, said he has found the perfect fit at Rahco.

“It’s very clear that this is the place for me,” Vargas said, noting it’s “evident by the way that I am treated and the many possibilities for opportunities to advance. I’ll be here for a long time.”

Being able to advance, have your opinions heard and be of value is important to team members.

“My input is valued,” First-Shift Production Manager Lucia Gonzalez said. “This is the first job that I have had the feeling that I’m working with ownership, not for ownership. My ability to make a difference in our customer’s satisfaction and impact my co-worker’s daily lives is real.”

A legacy

The family business continues to put its employees first, as employee expectations have continued to increase in scope.

“We have tried to stay ahead in terms of pay and benefits,” Anton said. “Safety is very important, and we demand of ourselves to be proactive and solicitous of ideas and concerns.”

He said team members should not be afraid to say what’s on their mind, as Rahco has an open door policy.

“We try to treat everyone with respect and dignity,” Anton said. “We listen to them and consider them to be part of the Rahco family. The company culture is everything.”

The culture at Rahco Rubber is built into the fabric of the company. It is something Anton and his brothers learned from their father.

“My two brothers and I have been at this for decades and we get along with each other quite well,” Anton said. “It always seems to surprise people. We learned a lot from our dad who respected everyone and showed a great deal of kindness.”

He added that after his father retired from the company, he still came in every day and had lunch with them.

“It was a great love of his life,” Anton added. “He made it to 95, in 2015. He’d be really pleased to see what Rahco looks like today.”