Behind the Gasket: Meet Antoney Smith

Some companies have a hard time finding good people to do honest work.

Not us – not when we have dedicated employees like Antoney Smith working here. 

Antoney has been a part of the Spec Rubber for almost six years (five years and nine months, to be exact). We can’t think of anyone on our team who better embodies the spirit of positivity and teamwork in their day-to-day activities, which is why we wanted to shine the spotlight on him.

Here’s why we’re proud to have Antoney on board.

Why Antoney Chose Spec Rubber

When Antoney first interviewed at Spec Rubber, he noticed right away something that caught his eye: how all of the other workers seemed to be, in his words, “so happy working here.”

He was particularly struck by the warmth of the people, especially his future supervisors. For Antoney, the workplace environment is incredibly important. He’s a people person, after all; no matter how satisfying the work he does in mold utility may be, it wouldn’t be as special without special people to work with.

“Teamwork Makes the Dream Work”

For his part, Antoney has taken inspiration from Spec Rubber leaders who’ve helped mentor him. He credits president Steve Smith, HR/safety manager John Vines, customer service manager Matthew Johnson, and production manager Elfrida McClain for making a lasting impact on him – one that he tries to pass down to all those around him.

“I truly believe teamwork makes the dream work,” he says. That’s why he prides himself on leading by example: of being a constant supply of positivity, collaboration, and respect. No company can succeed for very long without that kind of environment. People like Antoney foster it on a daily basis.

No Challenge Is Too Great

Not that his journey has been easy. Early in Antoney’s career at Spec Rubber, he found himself overwhelmed. He had multiple responsibilities and tasks to fulfill, but he wanted to do everything all at once. 

Antoney overcame the challenge, though, by focusing on one thing at a time and ensuring that one thing was done the right way before thinking about the next. That’s a vital lesson many workers struggle to learn, and one all can take to heart. 

It’s Not All About Work

But working hard isn’t the sole name of the game. Working and living have to be in balance. Antoney wants to do a great job when he’s on the clock while still having time to enjoy his family. Spec Rubber’s family-oriented environment means Antoney and all our other employees can enjoy their time on and off the clock.

At the end of the day, Antoney enthusiastically recommends Spec Rubber to anyone who’s looking for a job, especially if they want an environment based on respect. 

“This company is second to none,” he says. “We work in a very good environment, and we stand for excellence.” 

We’re proud to have Antoney Smith as a valuable member of our team. He spreads positivity and dedication to doing the right things the right way to everyone else he comes in contact with, and we couldn’t ask for more.

You can’t get the dream without the team, and we’re sure he’d agree. 

An Expensive Problem – and a Brilliant Solution

Pipes make America happen. 

Every day, over 2.2 million miles of underground pipes – fitted with couplings, valves, and other fixtures – help deliver over 38 billion gallons of life-giving water to businesses and homes nationwide.

As you can probably imagine, building and maintaining this vast infrastructure network is expensive. It also takes countless hours of labor and a constant stream of technological innovation to solve new problems and keep the system running well into the future.

When everything goes well, water gets to where it needs to be: your faucet, kitchen sink, and toilet. 

But the water system has an issue that the general public never knows about, a problem that can result in enormously expensive leaks and temporary water shortages.

It all has to do with the pipes that send H2O from point A to point B.

A Leaky Problem in the Water Pipe Industry

Water pipes that transport our clean water are mainly made of three materials: metal, concrete and clay, and plastic. 

Their diameters and lengths vary, but one thing is constant: no pipe is ever long enough to do the job all by itself.

Before water reaches the bottom of your tub, when you turn on the faucet, it travels through miles of pipes from the nearest municipal water supply facility. Even the longest pipes can’t bridge this distance, so we join these pipes together with fittings – or connectors.

On the outside of these fittings are circular rims running all around the outside. These are called flanges, which are used to bolt the fitting together to form a nice, tight seal.

To further help provide a seal – and keep the water inside, where it belongs – pipe connections also contain rubber gaskets. These rubber gaskets for water pipes are flexible enough to fill every possible crack and crevice yet rigid enough to hold up to a steady stream of water pressure.

This system works well – until it doesn’t. Sometimes, old gaskets fail. Or the pipe fitting and valves loosen. Or, more commonly, two pipes being joined together (especially a newer one replacing an existing fitting) don’t quite line up the way they want.

They can form a gap, and even one that’s just 3/8ths of an inch can result in what every water pro fears: a leak. A leak underground that isn’t easy to see or fix can be a very costly problem for your water company.

Nothing is more frustrating – and expensive – than shutting down a project because of unexpected gaps. That’s why companies like Spec Rubber have spent much time and brain-power developing solutions to prevent these problems before they get out of hand.

Introducing Filler Flanges: a Game-Changing Solution

Filling a gap that arises from joining pipes and valves usually involves going back to the machining shop to build something out by hand. 

This process is a major headache because it involves stopping work, spending money, and delaying the project. At best, you’re looking at hours of lost production and thousands of dollars worth of expenses – and that’s if you have a shop nearby and available. 

(And nothing gets lost in communication.)

Filler flange gaskets were developed as a solution because they allow instant, on-site filling of gaps between pipes up to 3″ in diameter – no custom machining required.

Our flanges come in various sizes; you can even stack them to create a more custom fit. Built from EPDM according to NSF-61 specifications, these flanges are easy to install, durable, and more cost-effective than metal flanges.

It’s an elegant solution to an expensive problem, but it’s not magic – just good, old-fashioned American ingenuity and hard work.

American-Made Gaskets from Alabaster, AL, USA 

The best thing about modern filler flanges is that you don’t have to import them from overseas and worry about quality – they’re made by Spec Rubber’s manufacturing facility in Alabaster.

Our products meet high standards because we know that what we build is used by our communities, communities that deserve the best. Elfrida McLain, our production manager, says, ” ‘Made in the USA’ means it’s going to be high quality, but ‘Made by Spec Rubber’ means it’s going to be the highest quality.

As she mentions, “We are an NSF-certified company, so we are very concerned about what we send out.” Elfrida and professionals like her carefully observe our production and definitely aren’t afraid to stop the whole process if something doesn’t seem exactly right.

Plus, being local means customer service is all-around better than what consumers can find anywhere else. “I’m looking at everything that we could do to satisfy this customer, trying to make sure that we get those orders done right. When you call Spec Rubber, you’re going to talk to a person; you’re not going to get a machine.”

She adds, “We carry our inventory, so you don’t have to wait for a long lead time.” When you need filler flanges to keep a project humming along smoothly, you’ll have them.

At the end of the day, it’s very simple for Elfrida: “Our goal is to meet and exceed our customer’s expectations every time here in small town Alabaster.” That’s the ‘Made in the USA, Made by Spec Rubber’ promise.

Taking Advantage of the Filler Flange Solution

We encourage you to learn more about filler flange gaskets and how replacing valves and fitting pipes with flanges is easier and more effective than older, less modern methods.

You’ll see, just as our other customers do, how creative, homegrown solutions turn expensive problems into money-saving solutions. 

Pipes make America happen – and filler flanges make pipes happen.

American Manufactured Gaskets Can Change Everything

You probably have yet to think of rubber gaskets before reading this blog. 

Maybe you’ve flexed your DIY muscles and repaired a leaky faucet, but most Americans will go their entire life without giving rubber gaskets much thought.

But rubber gaskets are far more important than you’d ever imagine. They enable the modern-day water infrastructure that delivers water to over 131 million households – water we use each and every day to drink, cook, shower, wash clothes, and even fill our swimming pools. 

And they’re made right here in America – at Spec Rubber.

Here’s how American-made gaskets are just some of the homegrown products fueling economic prosperity for families and communities today (and how you do your part to help).

America’s Economic Powerhouse Is Still Made in the USA

In the 1950s, America stood alone at the top of the global economy. Domestic manufacturing was the juggernaut that helped the U.S. fuel the Allied victory in World War II and carved out the most significant era of prosperity the country had ever seen.

However, economic conditions over the next three decades, coupled with the rise of globalization, would allow the rest of the world to catch up. Soon, America transitioned to a service economy, and homemade manufacturing was in danger of becoming an afterthought.

Spec Rubber was founded in that golden era of manufacturing and has persisted through the sector’s ups and downs because of the same reason we’re still around today: people still want and need American-made products.

Today, the “Made in the USA” label helps provide jobs and keep money here in the States instead of going abroad.

As of June 2023, American manufacturing:

  • It provides almost 13 million jobs
  • Generates over $2.5 trillion in economic impact
  • Exports over $1.4 trillion in products to the global market
  • Accounts for nearly 17% of the world’s manufacturing output
  • It ranks second in the world  

Almost 70 of those 13 million jobs are right here at Spec Rubber. Every paycheck our workers earn goes back into the local community, which helps every local business and their workers.

When we buy locally, we’re helping our families, friends, and neighbors flourish. 

How American Safety Regulations Keep Our Water Clean

Buying local isn’t just about economic growth; it’s also about maintaining the clean water we depend on.

It is not always guaranteed that foreign-made products meet the highest quality standards. (That’s an understatement.) You never really know how an imported product – like a water pipe gasket – is manufactured. Was the process free from contaminants? Will the gasket fail earlier than it should, causing costly leaks? Will it leach harmful substances into our water supply?

These are all questions that are impossible to answer for most foreign-made goods. There’s a long history of inadequate imported products and materials failing Americans, from cheap Chinese drywall to food created in unsanitary conditions

But gaskets made here in the USA have to abide by strict standards and regulations that govern everything from structural integrity and longevity to the health impacts of the substances we use.

Our water supply is too important to leave up to manufacturers outside our borders who don’t have to use it. Local manufacturers like Spec Rubber drink the same water as you. Our families depend on it just like yours do. 

Keeping it safe is our number one priority – something foreign companies can’t say.

Why Buying American-Made Products Helps the Consumer

Finally, when you turn to companies like Spec Rubber, you will get a higher-level customer experience.

It’s not always easy to get help from a company that relies on foreign customer service reps or whose offices are thousands of miles away. 

Nothing is more frustrating than needing assistance and having it delayed. (We’ve all been there before.) But local companies are more accessible and available. Our people are easier to contact and visit, making every step of the sales and service processes more convenient.

Businesses that buy local have manufacturers in their corner, right in their backyard – and that’s something you just can’t find elsewhere.

Rubber gaskets for water pipes made here in the USA aren’t just for protecting water. They’re also better for the environment, local communities, and businesses. 

That’s what gaskets can do – and now, you’ll always remember it.

Keeping Your Home Safe and Your Water Clean

About 72% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water – but only 3% of the water on Earth is fresh and fit for human consumption.

We depend on water for various reasons, so keeping our fresh water supply clean and free from harmful contamination is paramount. With the proper infrastructure, though, the water we bring into our homes for drinking, cooking, and cleaning can protect our health.

Keeping water clean – and keeping us safe from nasty chemicals, biological hazards, and other potentially harmful matters – is the water industry’s biggest priority. On a daily basis, here is how the water is kept safe and secure.

The Challenges of Water Contamination

Fighting contamination first means understanding it.

Humans are remarkably resilient, but our immune systems only handle so much. Water can be an excellent conduit for organic and non-organic contaminants to invade our bodies and potentially wreak havoc.

In the U.S., a contaminant is legally defined as “any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in water” – in short, anything that isn’t water itself. Not all contaminants are harmful, and eliminating 100% of contamination from a water supply is impossible.

However, when a harmful contaminant is in the water supply above a certain level, people can become sick with anything from an acute, short-lived illness to potentially a chronic condition. Lead, for example, can seriously damage our brains and kidneys and hamper our body’s ability to produce life-giving red blood cells. 

Fighting the good fight against contamination is a challenge because over 90 chemical, physical, or microbial agents are viewed as harmful enough to be tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s a long list.

Detecting contamination is easy enough with the right tools, a regular inspection schedule, and constant vigilance. Still, the U.S. water system is massive – which means ongoing inspection of the untold miles of pipes and countless delivery systems is virtually impossible.

The first line of defense is designing safer equipment and materials that get water from where it is to where we need it: in our homes.

How Today’s Equipment and Technology Protect Our Water

The science of water transportation has come a long way from the simple terra-cotta and cast-iron pipework of yesteryear.

Today, the industry uses a combination of high-tech materials and innovative components to construct systems that are not only reliable – thus helping to prevent catastrophic pipe bursts and other structural failures – but as contaminant-free as possible. 

For example, Spec Rubber produces rubber gaskets for water pipes that comply with NSF-61, the national standard for water safety in components designed to come in contact with our fresh water supply. The appropriately-named NSF-61 flat gaskets are constructed from EPDM manufactured according to the rigorous ISO 9001:2015 quality control standards.

By meeting (and exceeding) these standards, our American-made gaskets can sustainably and reliably protect water as it is transported through the structural networks we enable – thus helping to protect it from contamination that otherwise would threaten our health.

To further help in the fight, the water industry employs sophisticated ways to treat and purify water that improves in effectiveness as technology continues to advance. Fresh water that goes through a public water treatment facility is made progressively cleaner for use through coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection. (For more info on these steps, check out this handy guide from the Centers for Disease Control.)

Thanks to hard work and American ingenuity, our nation has some of the safest drinking water in the world. 

Ensuring Safe Water Not Just Today, but Tomorrow

As stewards of our environment, we have a duty to protect drinking water not just for today’s families but for those of the future – for the next generation and every generation after.

Sustainable, environmentally friendly American manufacturing processes help maintain cleanliness inside and outside the water system. Even if the pipes and gaskets that port our water are clean, toxic chemicals can still leach into the groundwater if not properly handled and disposed of.

The molded rubber industry hasn’t always been kind to the environment. At Spec Rubber, though, we’ve built a reputation for using processes that are as safe for the environment as they are for our workers and the families we support.

We also support clean water initiatives and industry best practices that don’t sacrifice the environment for quality or efficiency. 

We encourage you to do your part to keep our drinking water clean by getting involved in the community. Find and reach out to a local watershed protection group and learn more about volunteering. You can also follow these simple guidelines to manage how you interact with water on an individual level and be a part of the solution. 

In conclusion, clean water matters, and we can’t live without it. Spec Rubber will continue to innovate better ways to be a part of our nation’s water delivery infrastructure, manufacturing the best, most sustainable gaskets that our families can rely on.

We’re all in this together when it comes to protecting our freshwater supply. We all need clean water, and to stay clean, water needs us.

Behind the Gasket: Meet Elfrida McClain

Spec Rubber has been in business since 1968 – one year before we landed men on the moon – and throughout our journey, we’ve been blessed with employees who have been a loyal and ever-present part of our family.

Without dedicated employees, we wouldn’t be where we are today. One employee, in particular, has been with Spec Rubber for over 45 years, and we want to draw special attention to this amazingly committed pillar of our company: Elfrida McClain.

Meet Elfrida: Providing Stellar Service for Over 4 Decades

When Elfrida joined Spec Rubber as a front-line production teammate in the 1970s, times were different in almost every possible way.

The industry had just witnessed a fundamental advance in the decade before – the creation of ethylene propylene terpolymer rubber (EPDM), a key ingredient in today’s mol

ded rubber products that offer superior heat, light, and ozone resistance compared to other forms of rubber in common use at the time.

Domestic demand for rubber was also on the rise, which was one primary reason behind the creation of Spec Rubber.

But competing as a new company at a time when more suppliers were hitting the market – including from overseas – was only possible with a steady, reliable, and responsible workforce. 

Elfrida represented an invaluable asset to the company: a homegrown worker who knew that the products she helped create would serve the community in which she lived.

She initially began as a part-time worker in the cutting department. It was (and remains) hard work, but Elfrida didn’t shirk from it. In fact, she threw herself into her craft, learning as much as she could. That kind of diligence and effort stood out to management, who thought she could be an even more valuable asset to the Spec Rubber family.

As a result, the company gave Elfrida every chance to learn about all the jobs under the Spec Rubber roof, and Elfrida took it. It was only a short time before she became a supervisor and, from there, a Production Manager. Her years of putting her hands on every part of our process gave her the insight she needed to do a great job, but she would’ve only gotten that far with the perseverance and dedication that has become her calling card.

Elfrida’s Principles of Success and Lessons Learned

Elfrida reached her current position in no small part thanks to her philosophy – and Spec Rubber’s – that supervisors should be on the floor, rubbing elbows with their teammates, instead of “holed up in their offices,” as she likes to say.

Communication is critical, and the supervisor needs to have an ear to the ground. Being on the floor is the best way to keep lines of communication open – especially in an industrial environment.

Elfrida also believes in teammate retention. “You don’t keep teammates for decades if you don’t take care of them and give the folks who want to learn opportunities to advance,” she says. That principle has led her to stick around for over 45 years: giving teammates every opportunity to reach their fullest potential.

Another essential principle – not just for managing and retaining teammates, but keeping customers happy – is believing in always keeping your promises. When we say we will deliver something, we will do everything possible to fulfill that promise. If something unexpected happens, we communicate immediately with our customers and teammates so no one has to be in the dark.

“Most folks in our industry aren’t used to that kind of service,” Elfrida says, “and it makes me proud that we take care of folks like that.”

Finally, understanding the importance of American manufacturing and supplying American jobs is vital. “When a customer calls, they get someone right here in Alabaster, Alabama, who understands their job and can provide the information they need,” says Elfrida. That local connection – having a provider who understands you because they live in your community – is why Spec Rubber and teammates like Elfrida have been so successful over the decades.

Here’s To Another 45 Years

Elfrida has helped make American-made gaskets and other rubber products for over 45 years – and we’d love to have her around for another 45.

She’s a sterling example of how much impact a loyal and energetic person can make on a company, its workers, and its customers.

With people like Elfrida, Spec Rubber exists. Her commitment is legendary; her attention to others is exemplary. We’re thankful for Elfrida McClain, and if you become a customer, we’re confident you’ll be grateful for her, too.

Specification Rubber Products: The Small Business Making a Big Impact in Shelby County and Beyond.

Specification Rubber Products (Alabaster, AL) is a small business located in Shelby County, Alabama, that is making a big impact on the local community, its economy, and beyond. Founded in 1968, the company specializes in producing highly engineered molded rubber components, including gaskets and sealing products for the waterworks industry. Recently, Spec Rubber was honored with the 2023 Shelby County Small Business of the Year Award in recognition of its commitment to creating jobs in the area and providing high-quality goods made in America.

Overview of the Shelby County Small Business Award

Spec Rubber is proud to be the winner of the 2023 Shelby County Small Business of the Year Award for businesses with 21 or more employees open one year or more. The Small Business of the Year awards were given out collaboratively by Calera Main Street, the Chelsea Business Alliance, Columbiana Main Street, Montevallo Chamber of Commerce, Montevallo Main Street, and The Shelby County Chamber. Businesses were judged based on their activities over the past three years, including staying power, employee growth, sales increase, response to adversity, and evidence of helping community-oriented projects. Spec Rubber has been operating in Shelby County for more than 55 years and is an established pillar of the local community. Spec Rubber has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and it is evident that their hard work and dedication have paid off. Spec Rubber is an ISO-certified manufacturer, and its waterworks products are NSF-61 certified, meaning these components meet the health and safety standards set forth by the National Sanitation Foundation for use in potable water applications. This certification has helped Spec Rubber stand out in the industry and has contributed to its success.

Contributions to the Shelby County Community by Specification Rubber Products

Spec Rubber’s contributions to the Shelby County community go well beyond just creating jobs. The company is committed to giving back and has been involved in several community-oriented projects over the years. They have donated to local schools and charities, participated in community celebrations, and supported local sports teams. Spec Rubber values being an active member of the Shelby County community and is truly grateful for being recognized as this year’s Small Business of the Year.

Recent Awards and Nominations  

Named 2023 Shelby County Small Business of the Year

Recognized as a Top Company in Alabama by Governor Kay Ivey’s Made in Alabama Showcase

Named one of Alabama’s Safest Manufacturers

A three-time finalist for Rubber News’ Best Places to Work in the North American Rubber Industry, receiving Top Honors in 2021

A three-time finalist for Alabama Manufacturer of the Year

List of Affiliated Charities and Community Programs

United Way of Central Alabama

St. Jude Children’s Hospital

Children’s Make-A-Wish Foundation

The National Children’s Cancer Society

Special Olympics

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Shelby Cancer Center

Safe House of Shelby County

Shelby Emergency Assistance

Alabaster City Fest

Alabaster City Schools

Spec Rubber in the News

Rubber News: Rubber News Names Best Places To Work Honorees

Rubber News: Best Places To Work: Building Positive Work Environment Key For Spec Rubber

Rubber News: Specification Rubber Puts Employees In Position To Prosper

Spec Rubber News: Spec Rubber Awarded 2021 Rubber News Best Place to Work

Shelby County Reporter: Alabaster Business Named Top Place To Work In 2021

Alabaster Connection: Alabama’s Governor Visits The Best Place To Work

AMERICAN Newsroom: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey Celebrates Specification Rubber Being Named “Best Place to Work”

Made In Alabama: Gov. Kay Ivey’s Made In Alabama Showcase

Governor News: Governer Ivey Hosts Second Annual Made In Alabama Showcase

Rubber News: Best Places To Work: Teamwork Key To Specification Rubber’s Success

United Way Of Central Alabama: Shelby County Company Moves Campaign Events From Conference Room To Warehouse

AMERICAN Newsroom: Specification Rubber Named One Of Alabama’s Safest Manufacturers

Birmingham Business Journal: Get A Look Inside A Rubber Factory Specification Rubber Products Celebrates 50 Years Of Service To Employees, Customers, And Community

Spec Rubber News: Celebrating 50 Years!

Shelby County Reporter: Specification Rubber Products Celebrates 50 Years

AMERICAN Newsroom: Specification Rubber Celebrates 50 Years Of Service

Birmingham Business Journal: How One Metro Birmingham Business Is Keeping Up With Foreign Competition

Rubber News: Spec Rubber Finds Opportunity In Crumbling Infrastructure





Why the NSF/ANSI-61 Certification Program Matters

Spec Rubber employees ensuring NSF-61 regulations are met.Most Americans take clean water for granted.

But for much of our history as a nation, clean water has been a struggle. Diseases caused by contaminated or polluted water aren’t nearly as prevalent as they once were – in large part because we’ve completely re-engineered how we protect, treat, and transport this vital substance.

To keep your water as clean as possible, it’s important to make sure that every object it comes in contact with – from the pipes and conduits that carry it to the rubber gaskets, fittings, and adhesives inside them – meets high quality standards.

That’s the purpose of NSF/ANSI-61 (NSF-61): a set of regulations that make sure our water is safe and clean, like it should be – and Specification Rubber helps make that happen.

The NSF-61 Certification Program Explained

The purpose of the NSF-61 certification program is simple: to provide proof that the company and its personnel understand the importance of keeping our water free from contaminants and impurities that can leach into it from the products that transport it.

The substances used by the industry to create our water infrastructure can be dangerous to humans. Drinking or consuming contaminated water can cause serious illnesses, which is why we have to be as careful as possible to prevent this from happening.

Companies with the NSF-61 designation for their products can demonstrate their commitment to the safety and sustainability of their products. To earn it, the company’s product must be evaluated by an independent and accredited third party that operates under the guidelines of NSF (the sponsoring organization of the standard) and ANSI (the American National Standards Institute). 

This process involves:

  • Product testing
  • Material analysis
  • Factory inspections
  • Regular, on-site audits
  • Ongoing surveillance of products

It’s not a one-shot deal, either; you have to stay certified on an ongoing basis. 

If your products are certified, you gain the right to include language such as “NSF certified” or “NSF listed”, and can use the NSF certification mark. These are clear signals to your customers and constituents that you meet the necessary standards to produce a safe, community-friendly product.

As of 2023, 49 states have laws or policies on the books requiring all drinking water system components to be compliant with or certified by NSF-61. (Louisiana is the only state that doesn’t.)

At Spec Rubber, we don’t settle for anything less than the highest standards for the cities and towns we serve, and that is why we stay fully certified to NSF-61. In becoming certified, our employees also achieve higher levels of training and deepen their understanding of how our rubber gaskets for water pipes and other components fit into the system as a whole – and the important role they play in protecting it.

Benefits and Details of the NSF-61 Certification Program

The NSF-61 certification process delivers benefits not just for employees and companies, but also residents.

These benefits include:

  • A universally-accepted verification of product quality
  • Less liability for water systems
  • A lower chance of expensive repairs and future required updates
  • Easier decisions on what to purchase and which provider to choose for purchasers
  • Confidence for residential consumers when it comes to buying and/or using certain components in the home
  • A higher level of industry training and understanding for employees
  • Easier access to markets all over the country for producers

Other facts concerning the program include the following:

  • NSF began developing standards for drinking water in 1986, under a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Prior to 1986, NSF had been working in the water industry for over two decades
  • A historical moment came in 2008, when NSF-61 mandated lower limits on lead content in plumbing products, spurred by regulations passed in California, Louisiana, Maryland, and Vermont
  • NSF-61 is updated by a joint committee that includes end users, public health experts, and members of the water industry
  • “Certification” is different from “compliance”; being compliant involves far less testing and regulation than becoming certified and is a much easier process to complete

The standards that NSF-61 covers can be found in the guidance produced and/or updated on a regular basis; you can access it here.

Protecting Water Now and in the Future

As a company with a full line of NSF-61 certified products, Spec Rubber is fully committed to maintaining clean water for the people we proudly serve.

Each new innovation we create goes through the process to ensure we’re creating the highest-quality of safe and reliable products that we would want our own families to use. 

Learn more about how we help our partners ensure NSF-61 compliance and keep our water system free of contaminants that no American should ever have to encounter.


Spec Rubber: An American Success Story

Underneath the ground, all over North America, there is a network of piping systems that delivers water to your home. Every time you turn on a tap, the water that enters your tub or your glass flows from miles away. 

It’s a modern marvel of engineering: twist a knob, get water in a moment. Since 1968, Specification Rubber Products (or Spec Rubber, as we’re called) has been proud to play a part in that experience, and it all started with a vision to deliver something as essential to water to our local communities: meaningful work. 

This is the story of Specification Rubber Products: how the company grew from one small building in a rural Alabama town to today providing high-quality, American-made gaskets and products to over twenty-five countries across the globe.

Our Founders’ Vision

In 1968, when our doors opened for the first time, 75% of ductile iron piping used in America’s waterworks industry came from the foundries and foothills of Birmingham, Alabama. 

At the time, America was going through a growth spurt: a massive boom in infrastructure dating from the end of World War II, when our GIs came home and started having children and building communities across the country.  

Those new families needed water. No one wanted to stay stuck in a past where you needed to depend on a well, especially not in rural areas. That’s why the industry laid as much ductile pipe as it could get its hands on – but it wasn’t just the pipes we needed. 

The founders of Spec Rubber – including E.W. “Bud” Quiggle” – saw this unprecedented growth as not just an opportunity for modernization, but a chance to provide something even greater: opportunity. 

By manufacturing the rubber gaskets needed to ensure the water stayed in the pipes where it belonged – on the way to your house – and not leaking into the earth, the founders would help support communities on multiple levels. Not only would we help deliver water; we’d help deliver jobs. 

The vision of being a responsible and valued neighbor, providing reliable work while delivering an essential product at an affordable price, led the founders to that moment in 1968 when our doors opened for the very first time.

Our History: From Alabaster to the World

The very first Spec Rubber facility was modest by today’s standards: 18,000 square feet, sprawling across a very rural town called Alabaster.

The location was advantageous because it was just a short drive away from the ductile pipe companies that dotted the landscape in nearby Birmingham.

They were our first customers: companies that needed reliable rubber gaskets for water pipes so Americans could all enjoy the benefits of clean water on demand. 

Success came quickly; in just a year, Spec Rubber became a part of a rapidly growing family of companies that today is known as AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company (itself founded in 1905 in Birmingham). 

In 1975, we took our next major leap forward with the production of the Tyton Joint Gaskets – a product that effectively doubled our business. It wasn’t just the technological advance of a newer, more efficient product that fueled this surge; it was also our growing reputation for high-quality products delivered to exact specifications at a price companies could afford.

Even though the 1970’s were filled with economic turmoil, Spec Rubber kept producing home-grown ingenuity and hard work. It didn’t take long for our company to achieve the highest standards in the industry; in 1992, we achieved the NSF-61 Product Listing Certification, followed in just two years by the coveted ISO 9001 quality certification marking our products as things customers could count on to do their job and then some.

We also branched out from rubber gaskets to a wider range of essential products, including specialty mechanical molded goods for industrial applications. We’ve innovated with groundbreaking technology like our Barracuda® Gasket, which was released in 2014 and provides an easy (and colorful) way to show if a pipe joint is properly installed and restrained.

And we partner with customers who have unique requirements that call for custom engineered solutions – a little old-fashioned American ingenuity and know-how to solve problems that take more than just any part off a shelf.

From NSF-61 flat gaskets to mechanical joint gaskets and more, our products have branched out from serving the waterworks industry to delivering quality for applications in agriculture, energy, mining, and beyond.

We like to say that if it’s made from molded rubber, we can make it (and we probably have).

Our Community: Only in America

In a modern era where outsourcing has become the main way to do business – and in a country where domestic manufacturing has fallen from its historic highs during the middle of the 20th Century – Spec Rubber is proud to produce our products right here in the USA, from the same local teammates you may see in the grocery store or at the ballpark. 

That guiding vision of delivering economic opportunity to our friends, families, and neighbors has helped us stay focused on providing jobs in a positive environment, one where teammates know they’re valued for their contributions.

Our production facilities employ over 70 teammates, some of whom come to us right out of high school and stay with us until they retire. 

We’ve been named as a Best Place to Work in the North American Rubber Industry by Rubber News, selected as a finalist for Manufacturer of the Year by the Business Council of Alabama and the Alabama Technology Network, local business of the year by the Shelby County Chamber, and one of the states’ Safest Manufacturers – all a part of our commitment to change American-made industries for the better.

Today, we support our communities and focus on giving back and being a civic-minded company, one on which our teammates and their families can rely. Even though our products can be found all over the globe, each one got its start right here in America – and so did we.

Our Future – And Yours

It’s been more than half a century since our first gasket rolled off the line in 1968. We began with a clear vision of supporting a crucial industry in an area of high need and continued to drive innovation and provide opportunity to the American workforce.

Our job isn’t complete; there will always be problems that need solving, teammates that need to make a living, and families that need clean water and close-knit communities. Spec Rubber is proud to be a part of it all. 

We encourage you to learn more about our company, our mission, and the vital role domestic manufacturers play in the economic health of our people and country.

And the next time you turn on the tap, think of us – we’ll be thinking of you.

What “Made In the USA” Really Means

Elfrida McClain

Elfrida McClain has worked with Spec Rubber for more than 4 decades. She started as a front-line employee and now manages production. See how she and the Spec Rubber team provide world-class service to delight our customers. 


I’ve worked at Specification Rubber Products for more than 45 years. I started as a front-line production employee, and now I’m our Production Manager. Spec Rubber has given me a great career path. 

Our customers know “Made in the USA” matters because a lot of projects require it. But I think it’s more important to say “Made at Spec Rubber” because I’m proud of the company I’ve worked for over the last 4 and half decades, and I’d like to tell you why. 


Company Culture

I started at Spec Rubber working part-time in the cutting department, but the company could see I wanted to learn. So they offered me a chance to continue to advance, and I learned about every job I could. Eventually, Spec Rubber promoted me to Supervisor. I earned that opportunity because I had learned every step in the production process. 

At Spec Rubber, we think supervisors should be out on the floor instead of holed up in their offices because it makes it easier for production employees to communicate with you. If they notice a problem, they can ask for help without worrying you’ll be upset about stopping production. We have each other’s backs, and everyone does what it takes to keep things running smoothly to eliminate waste and prevent project delays. 


Employee Retention

We have a lot of long-time employees. It’s a great place to work, and a lot of folks have stayed here for more than 40 years, but only one person worked here longer than me. He retired at 46 years, and every time I see him, I say, “I’m going to catch you!” I just have one year to go. But I think I’ll keep going for a while longer. I have too much energy to just sit on the porch. 

You don’t keep employees for decades if you don’t take care of them and give the folks who want to learn opportunities to advance. Some folks like to work the same job day after day and year after year, and it’s fine for them to be the very best at what they do. Others want to learn everything and advance like me. Spec Rubber does a great job of providing a career path for each employee. 

If you are looking for a rewarding career with long-term opportunities, find your future at Spec Rubber!


Customer Service

I think our customer service is the reason most of our customers do business with us. When a customer calls, they get someone right here in Alabaster, Alabama who understands their job and can provide the information they need. 

I think the most important part of providing great customer service is keeping your promises. Maintenance takes great care of our equipment, and we work hard to maintain our supply of raw materials because when we say we are going to deliver something, we deliver it. I’m responsible for planning every aspect of production so that we can promise the fastest possible delivery date without overpromising. If I’m going to put my name on something, we are going to do it. And when the unexpected happens, I tell customer service immediately. That way, we don’t make promises we can’t keep, and we communicate with our customers whenever anything changes. Most folks in our industry aren’t used to that kind of service, and it makes me proud that we take care of folks like that. These customers are the reason I’ve had this job for 45 years, so I want to make sure we do things right every time to take care of them.  


Request A Sample Gasket 

Would you like a sample of a gasket made by Elfrida’s team? Request a free gasket sample here or call us at (800) 633-3415. A real person will answer the phone to answer your questions. And if customer service makes promises, we will deliver. Elfrida will be sure of that.

Supply Chain Shortages Are Affecting Gaskets And Water Systems


By: Matt Haan

Supply chain shortages and import delays are affecting all sectors of the economy. Our water system customers have told us that gaskets have been hit particularly hard because so many are imported. This has led to delays on otherwise shovel-ready projects. 

Gaskets manufactured in the United States face fewer hurdles, but some manufacturers have struggled to stock enough raw materials to meet demand. Spec Rubber has managed our access to raw materials for over 50 years, and we’ve worked around the clock to maintain a warehouse with a significant amount of inventory. If you’re having trouble getting the gaskets you need for your project, call me at (800) 633-3415 or email me at

Supply chain problems have brought more attention than ever to “Made in the USA” gaskets, but those aren’t the only reasons it’s wise to examine which gaskets your water system writes into project specifications. 


Made In The USA: Required For Federal Funding

Many water systems have prioritized products “Made in the USA” because they qualify for funding through federal programs like the recent infrastructure bill. Non-compliant foreign gaskets look appealing because the sticker price is often lower, but savings evaporate if it jeopardizes funding sources for infrastructure projects. 


Made in the USA: Verified NSF-61 Certification

The NSF-61 designation is essential for anything that comes in contact with drinking water, including gaskets. However, international manufacturing facilities are not inspected like domestic facilities, leading to compromises in manufacturing processes, materials used, and overall quality. This has led to several manufacturers talking about how their products relate to NSF-61 standards without actually complying. This is not acceptable for potable water. 

We are proud that all our products are 100% Made in the USA and NSF-61 certified.  


Gaskets: Ready to Ship

Spec Rubber has manufactured gaskets in Alabaster, AL for more than 50 years. We are proud that our position in the industry has allowed us to step into the gap to supply customers who’ve been left high and dry without access to imported gaskets they’d used in the past. We currently have very small to no lead time depending on the product. Give me a call at (800) 633-3415 or email me at to find out more. 

Request a free gasket sample here!

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