Cubic Tech Corp Buyout. A Cottage Q&A

Love it, hate it, trying to ignore it exists, or completely committed to it – cuben fiber has continued to prove itself for the last decade, against all odds, even at times when almost everybody in the industry wanted it to just go away – and many still do. Through it all, cuben fiber has been the mysterious product of a rather small company based out of Mesa, Arizona USA, called Cubic Tech Corporation. There is no doubting it anymore, Cuben fiber, or cuben fibre if you are from across the pond, has become a mainstay of the outdoor hiking industry over the last decade. It has proven itself to excel in many ways. It has also had a few blunders along the way. Over the years some cottage companies started importing other fabrics in an attempt to get cuben fiber to ‘go away’, yet cuben fiber prevailed. It has become a fabric that a few outdoor hiking cottage companies have fully committed themselves too – and grow they have! Other outdoor hiking cottage companies have used it sparing, while other companies totally sworn it off – and at least two or three of those companies have started to sell cuben fiber products over the last two years – is this a sign of its popularity and potential lost of business, or has the fabric reached a point where it has proven itself to even the diehard-anti-cuben-fiber-crowd. What is unquestionable is that cuben fiber has survived both the good and and bad times.

On 13 May 2015, a news release was announced from Heerlen, Netherlands that Cubic Tech Corporation had been bought out.

The buyers: well known fabric manufacturer Dyneema, a subsidiary of DSM Dyneema, a subsidiary of DSM, officially known as Koninklijke Dsm Nv.

Expect this article to be a huge leap away from any previous article I have published. In it we are going to get an insiders look of what the consequences and/or advantages of Cubic Tech Corp (herein CTC) being sold means to a number of the outdoor hiking cottage companies that most of my readers buy their hiking gear from. If you do not care about cuben fiber, there is no reason to keep reading. If you do not care about what the outdoor hiking cottage company owners think about cuben fiber, there is no reason to keep reading. If you have utterly no desire at all what happens within the industry side of hiking, yep, there is no reason to keep reading. I fully know this article will only appeal to the die-hard gear geeks out there. This topic interests me, and this is my website, so I am writing about it.

For the last year I have seen the writing on the wall, so the buying out CTC was not much of a surprising announcement to me. I had been hearing rumors that CTC was considering selling, that aa few companies were thinking about making offers, and all the tell-tell signs that indicate a possible company buyout. What did surprised me is that the mighty DSM ended up being the company to buy out CTC. In many ways this was a brilliant purchase for DSM. It provides them access to another type of fabric to bring into their umbrella of already leading end technology. It also, on a rather small level, will provide DSM a way to capture a small but fast growing market that in many ways after the last decade been a direct competitor, however small in the grand scope of DSM. Perhaps most importantly it will provide DSM the rights to using the techniques and fabrics owned by CTC, to further advance the entire lineup of DSM branded fabrics/materials.

While the outdoor hiking industry may not be the largest division of the many industries that CTC sells too, there is no doubt that it is one of the top divisions/industries, and has been growing at a decent rate year after year. With DSM Dyneema already having a large market share within the hiking industry, any chance they can get to buy up an innovative and growing new textile manufacturer is just good business for them.

Over the last few business quarters, it has become obvious that CTC has been having growing pains. Most of the outdoor hiking cottage manufacturers have had orders being delayed – due to the demand placed on CTC because of the success and growth they have had. A few of the cottage hiking companies that utilize cuben fiber in the manufacturing of their products have been able to get by without too large of problems due to their ability to purchase massive orders, while others have faced delays of weeks and even months before getting their orders delivered. What has been known by all within the industry is that something needed to change.

Personally, I thought CTC would seek outside investors and attempt to raise capital and expand their manufacturing facility to handle a higher volume production, or to build an entirely new manufacturing facility. Others I have talked, before the buyout took place, felt CTC would sell out to a mid-size company capability of taking them to the next level. Nobody I talked with over the last year seemed to have any inkling of a buyout from a company the size of DSM.

For the last few weeks I have been sending out requests to different outdoor hiking cottage manufacturers, all of which produce products made with cuben fiber, to see if they would be willing to answer a few questions about what the buyout of Cubic Tech Corp by DMS Dyneema might and/or will mean for the future of the outdoor hiking industry and their own production of products made with cuben fiber.

I approached nearly all of the outdoor cottage manufacturers and asked them some questions, mostly identical questions, and below are some of the feedback I have received. It should be noted that two of the cottage companies did respond and chose not to answer my questions, and three just did not respond at all. I also contacted CTC with a set of questions and they did not respond. I also contacted DSM Dyneema and they too did not respond.

My first question has to do with the future of the cf market:

With the recent buyout of CTC by DSM Dyneema, a rather huge company in the outdoor fabric manufacturing industry, what changes do you see happening in the next year or two that might help or hurt your ability to continue producing cuben fiber products?

Jotaro Yoshida,, responded with:

We believe and hope that this is going to be better in many ways, as we have been a customer for nearly 6 years and we always feel and respect their effort and development on the new materials, which has a lot of meaning to us.

Ron Bell,, responded with:

I do think that the DSM buyout is a good thing. I do not think we will see a quick expansion of Cubic Tech. Those things take a little while but I do not have any inside info. I do not foresee any significant impact on the smaller backpacking companies in the short term. I think there is a possibility they will expand over the next few years – that may or may not raise/lower the price of the raw material.

Ron Moak,, responded with:

I doubt it’ll have much effect for a very long time, if at all. Cuben Fiber is such a tiny segment of the market that it’s virtually insignificant. Currently there are many obstacles to making it more wide spread. I’ve got no idea about DSM’s thoughts or desires. There are other mills around the world that are experimenting with different Dyneema/film combinations. It’s only a mater of time before it’ll be available from multiple sources.

Steve Evans,, responded with:

I am not able to compete with companies who are located in the USA on cuben products. The reason is that the shipping and import fees are so large that they price me out of the game. If the buyout can reduce these costs, I could relook at producing items

Joe Valesko,, responded with:

As you have probably noticed when browsing cottage gear companies this spring, most of them don’t have any material. We are lucky that we place (and pay for) huge quantities of Cuben well in advance, and have not completely run out yet. It has been very tight though. I am just speculating, but I think part of that delay/shortage is probably due to the DSM buyout. I am really hoping that the upside of the deal is that DSM will get their production in line and catch up with their backlog and shortages. I know that they are already working on it.

My next question has to deal with the growth/expansion of CTC:

It has been well known over the last few years that CTC has been having issues keeping up with demands and orders have been getting backordered longer and longer by CTC. There is the possibility that DSM Dyneema is going to start producing cuben fiber at their Greenville, North Carolina based fabric manufacturing facility, in addition to the CTC based Mesa Arizona production facility, do you feel this is going to be part of their growth-plan? Do you, furthermore, feel that the buyout is going to be the necessary ‘next-step’ for CTC to be able to keep up with the demands by your company and the other cottage companies that make cuben fiber products?

Jotaro Yoshida,, responded with:

We have actually never felt or had any issue with them in our orders as they have always come as scheduled. So we cannot say “necessary or not”, but just be glad if they expand their business in the way they hope by that.

Ron Bell,, responded with:

We are now placing far larger individual CTC orders than in the past – fewer order but larger qualitities to factor in CTC lead times. Our specific type and color of cuben is not run as often in the smaller lots like it used to be. We think we have compensated for that going forward. It does add a bit to our cost to have to stock those larger raw material inventories for longer.

For us, and I guess other small gear companies too, the longer production times are mainly a result of an increase in demand.  That increase is affected at both ends – the production of the material at CTC and the production of the gear at the small companies.  Overall for MLD, it’s been only a few weeks increase in production times over normal Spring wait times. We usually run about 6-10 weeks in the Spring and this year it’s at about 8-12 weeks.  A part of this may be an increase in long distance hikers this year.

I can say that at MLD we offer so many products that customers really want we could never have a big stock of any one product on hand- it would be hundreds of SKU’s and we already offer 3X the number of listed products vs any other small gear company.

Ron Moak,, responded with:

Availability is but one factor in the development, production, release and sale of CF products. It’s true that CF has been getting more difficult to procure with longer lead times. But even if that was cured overnight, it wouldn’t eliminate the other obstacles.

I’m sure there will be all kinds of issues if the production of CF is scaled to additional facilities. It’s not like other fabrics so you can’t use existing methodologies. I’m sure there are any number of technical obstructions to scaling up production.

Even if you scale production. You’ll have the inevitable quality issues to contend with. There are still quality issues inherent with the current system that’s been in place for a number of years.

Steve Evans,, responded with:

Typically when a company us acquired by a larger company they tend to be able to invest in production and perhaps even streamline the process which could help in keeping up with demand. However, since DSM is a huge company, they may not want to sell small quantities anymore, the last time I dealt with them it was a 9 meter minimum order. I could see DSM not wanting to sell such a small quantity and maybe even sign agreements that could stop selling to all but the biggest players… which would suck

Joe Valesko,, responded with:

I am told that they are taking steps to ramp up production. Exactly how and where they do that is up to them, as long as the end result is an improved supply chain. I don’t know the details. I am also told that they are working on improving their marketing and sales. There would be no reason to do that unless they anticipated having a larger supply of material to sell.

My next question addressed DSM & Cottage Industry:

CTC has been willing over the last few years to continue producing new and innovative types of cuben fiber used by the cottage industry. Are there any fears that with DSM Dyneema buying out CTC that these type of custom fabrics are going to be something the larger mother company, DMS Dyneema, are no longer going to want to be apart of?

Jotaro Yoshida,, responded with:

It is quite hard to imagine that is going to happen because as least we know the materials are really rare and precious and a lot of people want to have the products made with that. So naturally we think something people want and respect cannot be vanished in the market, which also means they or whoever cannot stop selling that.

Joe Valesko,, responded with:

I have heard no indication that they would discontinue any of their more niche items. I can only imagine that as long as we keep buying them, and as long as they are able to make a profit they wouldn’t have a reason to do that.

My next question addresses the future desires of CF R&D:

With CTC having been a fairly small company and not able to invest a huge amount of capital into R&D, this buyout from DSM Dyneema could mean that CTC will now have a massive amount of capital to invest into R&D for next generation cuben fiber. What are some of the advancements in cuben fiber technology that you would like to see?

Jotaro Yoshida,, responded with:

We would like to see something perfect of CTF3, as you see the lightness and the breaking strength are already achieved , so maybe breathability or not being weak against pinholes. In addition, if the huge volume production made the costs as well as the prices lower, it would be great.

Ron Moak,, responded with:

Companies buying out other companies typically follow several possible scenarios.

1) Overly optimistic about the rewards meets incompatible cultures and continual frustration leading to the sale of the newly acquired asset. ie Time Warner / AOL.
2) Larger company buys smaller and let it simply do it’s own thing. Perhaps providing assistance or not. ie Columbia / Mt. Hardware.
3) Larger company absorbs smaller company, adopts its technology and provides resources needed to expand the market.

Everyone wants option 3, time will determine what we get.

Steve Evans,, responded with:

I haven’t thought about fabrics in a while but I know that many years ago I was thinking that a composite layering technique would be a great way to overcome the drawbacks of cuben fiber. And I believe they achieved that with their hybrid versions. More of that would be great, as well and continuing to develop their breathable stuff.

Joe Valesko,, responded with:

Cuben Fiber has some limitations as you are aware. Cosmetic issues, and eventual fraying come to mind. I do not know what if any plans they might have for future innovation. If you or your readers want something in particular, let me know and maybe I’ll ask them to make it ;)

My next question is about market share:

Are you willing to share how much cuben fiber you annually buy from CTC? And if so, how much? And, if so, do you know if your company buys more cuben fiber than anybody else? In other words, is your company the #1 customer of CTC in the outdoor hiking industry?

Ron Bell,, responded with:

A point I would stress is that building the highest quality cuben gear requires a lot of craftsmanship. It takes over 2 yrs for us to train a craftsperson to be able to make all the cuben shelters properly. I know some other companies hire up quickly when Spring orders increase and lay-off workers when orders lag and repeat that cycle each year. That concept would make me crazy. MLD has never layed-off anyone – certainly not to increase profits by lowering payroll overhead for a short time. What that does mean is some times of the year we get behind more than at other times as we build orders as they come in – but that is normal for us and a part of maintaining super high quality and retaining highly trained gear builders.

Ron Moak,, responded with:

I’m sure we’re a small customer of CTC. Bigger than some smaller than others. I don’t particularly speculate. I’ve not wrapped my company around the success or failure of CTC. We’ll continue to use it. If it goes away, it’ll have a relatively small impact on our bottom line.

Joe Valesko,, responded with:

We buy a lot of Cuben Fiber. I don’t know for sure but I suspect we may be their largest customer in the outdoor industry. They also serve other markets such as sailing, aviation, clothing, and military – some of those may well outrank us.

Below are a few company specific questions I asked:

I asked the following question to Locus Gear:

As an international company what problems have you faced buying cuben fibre and being able to keep it in-stock?

Jotaro Yoshida,, responded with:

We do not feel disadvantageous as an outside company especially with only CTC. It means the FX rate is fair to everyone and we have to pay the international freight fees for all, not only for Cuben to import.

I asked the following question to Mountain Laurel Designs:

MLD has long offered backpacks in Dyneema fabric, and I have never seen a cuben fiber backpack from MLD, with the change of ownership are there any plans at this point in time for MLD to be producing cuben fiber backpacks or is MLD going to remain 100% committed to using Dyneema X for all of the backpacks in your catalog?

Ron Bell,, responded with:

We actually were the first company to make cuben packs and offered them for a few years. That was in the early days of SUL and XSUL. We may start making cuben packs again. I do not think the DSM buyout will have any significant effect on outdoor UL and SUL gear over the next few years. There may be a slightly longer than usually wait times this year as companies adjust to the longer CTC production times and place larger orders to compensate.

I asked the following question to Six Moon Designs:

SMD has had great success over the last few years with cuben fiber shelters. The Skyscape X, a shelter I have owned and loved and reviewed with high praise, and the newer Deschutes CF, are products that SMD have typically sold out of within a matter of a few hours to a few days after getting them in-stock. What are some of the fears and/or hopes over the next hiking season or two, that could be affected, for better or worse, that could affect the current cuben fiber products in your catalog?

Ron Moak,, responded with:

We’re still grappling with the disconnect between our production of main stream products and cuben products. It won’t be resolved for sometime. We’re working on some possible scenarios but nothing has been resolved. While I like cuben, I’m not particularly fond of all the hoops we have to jump through to produce it.

I asked the following question to ZPacks:

ZPacks recently started offering Dyneema backpacks, which from personal use of one, I can say I am really impressed. With DSM Dyneema now owning CTC, do you foresee a greater shift away from cuben fiber towards dyneema fabric in the next few years?

Joe Valesko,, responded with:

We try to listen to what our customers ask for. If our customers ask for other materials and other materials offer an advantage (price, weight, durability, supply) then we will offer those options.


DSM Dyneema Q&A:

July 01, 2015.

Today I have received an email from a representative of DSM Dyneema responding to my Q&A that I sent them via email.

I would like to thank DSM Dyneema for allowing little’ol’me the opportunity to have somebody at their offices take the time to respond to my questions. That is very much appreciated.

Below is an overview of the questions I asked and the answers that they responded with. Below is not a word-for-word copy-and-paste, as some of what I asked went on-and-on (as I tend to do) and some of the questions and responses were duplicates of sort. However, I have made sure to include the really important parts of my questions and their responses.

Question: With the recent buyout of CTC by DSM Dyneema, a rather huge company in the outdoor fabric manufacturing industry, what changes do you see happening in the next year or two that might help or hurt your ability to continue producing cuben fiber products for the outdoor hiking industry?

Answer:  One of the key attractions of Cubic Tech is the caliber of its people, their knowledge and skills and their “can do” attitude. Additionally, Cubic Tech brings opportunities for forward integration, new technology to DSM Dyneema’s product portfolio, quick design and prototyping capabilities, existing product development pipeline, ability to work with all high performance fibers, which can be summarized as: 20+ years of experience, R&D expertise and complementary technology.

DSM Dyneema brings a host of capabilities such as corporate structure and size, respected global Dyneema® brand, access to UHMwPE fibers and purchasing capabilities, proven application development, access to material expertise and additional R&D resources, as well as manufacturing competence and scale up expertise.

This successful combination of skills, resources and competences will provide a clear direction in further expanding our focus on sports, outdoor and lifestyle markets.

Question: Is DSM Dyneema going to continue to utilize CTC to produce cuben fiber or is the plan to fold CTC into the DSM Dyneema umbrella and close down production of cuben fiber?

Answer: Leveraging the talent, customer portfolio and domain expertise of Cubic Tech will enable the business to grow and expand faster and more efficiently. We strongly believe that by combining the two brands, will allow us not only to grow in production capabilities but also show healthy growth in expanding our client list. Closing down the production of Cuben fiber has never been an option.

Question: Follow-up to that, are there any plans at this point to evolve cuben fiber technology into the Dyneema technology? Doing away with one/either/both for a new stage/evolution of fabric? Obviously not giving away any state secretes here, of course ;)

Answer: At this time, we can only say that by combining each other’s technology, strategy and R&D resources, we plan to develop the next generation of fabrics.

Question: Any plans to expand the Mesa Arizona facility? Or will it be shut down and all moved to Greenville, North Carolina? Any plans to utilize the international manufacturing facilities that DSM Dyneema owns to help increase production of cuben fiber?

Answer: From what can be foreseen today, expanding operations at the current facility is anticipated in the short-term.

Question: Any projections to help CTC to be able to keep up with demands?

Answer: CTC has seen a rapid increase in demand over the past 6 months. The joint forces ensure that production capacity and lead-time will follow all of the market requirements.

Question: Was the DSM Dyneema buyout a way of stopping a smaller, yet fast growing, competition for getting a larger market share, or was this all about CTC being able to have a larger umbrella company to help increase production?

Answer: Neither one of the options mentioned in your question is correct. DSM Dyneema is convinced that the combination of Cubic Tech products and innovation pipelines, together with a world recognized DSM brand with global commercial and manufacturing infrastructure, will offer our customers growth and advantage through new applications and market opportunities driven by materials expertise.

Question: With CTC having been a fairly small company and not able to invest a huge amount of capital into R&D, this buyout from DSM Dyneema could mean that CTC will now have a massive amount of capital (hopefully!!) to invest into R&D for next generation cuben fiber. What are some of the advancements in cuben fiber technology that you would guys are hoping to do?

Answer: DSM Dyneema is definitely going to invest into the R&D development and expansion of the cuben fiber technologies. We are not currently in the position to discuss the details of those developments.

In Closing:

I hope this article, interview, has been insightful. As stated above, I realize that most folks are just not going to care about this topic — Cubic Tech Corp being bought out – but as I said, it is of interest to me and I figured a few of my readers may also like it.

There are many many questions I could have asked, and in the end a few of them ended up being rather close to each other and thus redundant to a degree. There are a lot of ways I could have focused my questions, but I wanted to stay specifically focused on the CTC buyout and how it would, or would not, affect the outdoor hiking cottage industry.

On a personal level, I am really glad to see CTC being acquired by somebody like DSM. It should mean that the future of cuben fiber will have some great leaps forward – there are some pretty smart people working for DSM after all. I am also really glad that DSM acquired them because it will hopefully result in an increase in supply production. All too often over the last few years we have seen the cottage companies having to post messages on their websites saying that they were out of stock, or almost out of stock, of their supply of cuben fiber. It would be great to see a larger supply of cuben fiber fabric being available for purchase, without wait, by these companies — this would mean less volumes of fabric they have to purchase, which would mean less massive bills they are faced with when ordering cuben fiber. These are, after all, cottage companies with a budget only so big. Larger supply means the ability to make smaller purchases and faster delivery time of fabric – and that often times can mean the cottage companies are able to have more cash/capital on-hand to keep their businesses running and hire experienced staff to design and manufacturer the gear so many of us love.

Should I ever receive a response from the other companies I contacted, I will update this article with their responses if applicable. Likewise, if Cubic Tech Corporation and/or DSM Dyneema ever respond with any information I am able to publish, I will likewise do so.

I want to personally thank all of those who were willing to take the time to answer the questions I sent them. It means a great deal to me that they are willing to take the time to respond to me, and thus share their thoughts with all of you.

Thank you to:

DSM Dyneema,
Jotaro Yoshida,
Ron Bell,
Ron Moak,
Steve Evans,
Joe Valesko,

I hope you have enjoyed this!
+John Abela

21 June 2015 – Steve Evans from suluk46 responded. Updated article to include a few of his responses.

13 thoughts on “Cubic Tech Corp Buyout. A Cottage Q&A

  1. In the early stages, cuben fiber products had to be proven.

    I held off placing an order.

    My experience?

    I have had nothing but excellence from HMG and from Hammock Gear and I hope to purchase items from Z-Packs Joe Valesko. I have also been watching to see more cuben fiber products.

    I hope the purchase does not mean we will not have these excellent materials available.

    More readily available would be a good outcome.

  2. John,
    Thank you for a job well done. And thanks to Jotaro, Ron, Ron, and Joe for being open to responding to your request for feedback. I have gear from all four of these companies and they are all top notch people running top notch companies. Their dedication to innovation, very high quality products and customer service is truly amazing and I hope for their sake, as well as mine, that the CTC buyout by DSM Dyneema is a homerun for all!

  3. Here is another question to ask or to research. What is the status of the patent on Cuben fibre (assuming there is one)? When does it run out? If there is one, I would think it was soon (i.e., a few years from now). Then what happens?

    1. I agree, those are questions that are of great interest, at least to me. I did direct such questions to CTC and DSMD, but as mentioned within the article, they have not yet responded to my inquiries.

  4. John,
    Very interesting article. I’ve wanted to buy a product made of Cuben for some years. Finally made the order a few weeks ago (ZPacks backpack) and then this article came out. So very timely for me as I wonder how the industry will be affected (ZPacks website said they were conserving material for their own products, so no DIY sales). This material could be instrumental in helping lighten up and expand the industry. I will be looking to make more purchases as time goes by but Cuben products are currently more expensive so I have to justify that expense. If the product is well thought out and the materials become more advanced that would make it even easier for me to make the jump in the future. Hopefully the buyout will bring a more stable supply chain, improved products and efficiencies, and allow cottage companies to pass on savings in the process and therefore also increase sales. Cottage industry increases sales = DSM increased sales. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of good things to come for DSM and Cuben Fiber.

  5. I have various products from Zpacks (mostly cuben fiber) and from Gossamer Gear (mostly not). I have become a huge fan of cuben fiber (and of Zpacks – their tents and backpacks are top class) and I hope that Dyneema are able to build on what CTC have done. Many thanks for the interesting article.. though I am a little nervous now about what may happen :-)

  6. John,

    Thanks for the time and effort you put into this article. I also would like to thank the owners of the companies that took the time to respond as knowing more from their viewpoint is very helpful. I own about every piece of gear that is currently offered in cuben fiber (backpack, outer shelter, inner bug net, rain jacket, pants, gloves, and stuff sacks (mostly from MLD and Zpacks) and have had great success with them. Cuben fiber has really changed my comfort level when hiking. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes moving forward with the buyout. Hopefully it will bring more options and not less. Thanks again for your effort and for keeping us in the loop.

  7. While I think the weight savings of cuben fiber are great. The price is beyond my breaking point for affordable gear except for small items such as stuff sacks and roll top bags from Z packs. I do not know if I will ever feel comfortable spending that much on a pack/shelter. I always enjoy learning about behind the scenes things such as this though.

  8. Great article, thank you. Do you know- or can your direct me to any articles- about environmental considerations of cuben fiber? Is there is toxic by-products in its manufacture? Can it be recycled? Thank you

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