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IN 1973, the nation faced an energy crisis, “The Sting” won the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Miami Dolphins clinched the first and only undefeated season in the NFL after beating the Washington Redskins 17-3 in Super Bowl VII.

The year 1973 was also notable for the Kulkaski family. It was when Stanley and Theresa founded plastics firm K. Jabat, Inc. in Bound Brook, N.J. What began as a hobby - meant to share the challenges and rewards of small business ownership with their six children - blossomed into a full- fledged enterprise four decades later.

Today, K. Jabat and its sister company, Jabat, Inc. (formed in 1990 in Olney, IL) boast two manufacturing plants that work in sync to fabricate a variety of products, including IAPMO certified Central Vacuum tubing.

This thriving venture supplies more than 400 customers worldwide and is the largest single supplier of tubing in the U.S. for OEM’s. In fact, the amount of tubing they’ve sold since inceptions (approximately 350,000,000 ft.) would circle the earth several times. CEO Susan McGill said the success of Jabat stems from a top-level commitment to supply customers with quality tubing for a competitive price.

“We’ve proven ourselves to be the most efficient, cost-effective manufacturers of tubing,” she said. The companies’ wide customer base and stellar customer service record can be directly attributed to the standard of excellence Stanley and Theresa passed on to their children. Indeed, Jabat is still a family affair. Susan McGill is the CEO of Jabat and K. Jabat, and son David is the New Jersey General Manager. Jabat’s long time employees include Rod Michels, Illinois General Manager; Rita Kman, Vice President of Finance/Controller; Aaron Ackman, Vice President of Sales; Tom Simmering, Vice President of Marketing Division; and Samantha Cummins, Central Vacuum Product Manager.

David said his parents always did business with honesty and integrity, leaning on each other to weather the economic storms that buffet every small business. Even after his mother passed away in 2007, Theresa is remembered fondly by her customers and competitors. Stanley has earned the respect of the plastic industry, especially from those in the Central Vacuum tubing business.

“Jabat has dedicated over 40 years to supplying the central vacuum industry with vacuum tubes. Jabat stayed with it when there was money in it, and when there wasn’t money in it.” The family is determined to carry on that legacy of quality and consistency, taking lessons from the past to help them navigate both companies through the future. Both companies are proud of getting through the “force majeure” situation (2005 record high oil prices) and even the 2011 recession without out missing a single delivery date.

Maintaining the legacy of meeting the industry’s tubing needs, Jabat in February 2006 obtained IAPMO certification for its tubes. Now, when buyers unpack and install a tube supplied by the company, they’ll see IAPMO’s Uniform Mechanical Code, notifying them that the tube met or exceeded the stringent standards laid down by ASTM. But longtime customers will agree, the UMC just means the IAPMO inspectors agreed with what they knew all along - that Jabat puts out a superior product.

Jabat works hard to build that kind of relationship with their buyers - after all, they’ve had more than 40 years of hard- won customer service experience behind them. The lifeblood of any small business rests in its willingness to make and keep its customers happy. Jabat does this in a variety of ways, such as employing a top-notch staff of material and tool design engineers, machining and economic feasibility specialists and design engineers with full CAD capabilities who are ready to answer the simplest and the toughest questions with equal amounts of friendliness and respect. The companies also excel in blending precision with flexibility. They are precise about meeting tube production, packaging and delivery goals, but flexible with the orders themselves, tailoring each to the buyer’s specifications with custom printing of names and bar codes. They’ll even package into specified racks and bundles so that they’ll slide into warehouse racks efficiently without the customer needing to break down the racks before warehousing and subsequent shipping.

In short, K. Jabat and Jabat Inc. know what to do to find and retain customers, but more important, it knows what it can’t do. Part of its mission statement reads: “We’re proud of our philosophy of taking care of customers. We bring on board only what we can manage and service effectively.” At Jabat, we are looking forward to circling the earth many more times!!

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