Discuss Company Profile of W. L. Gore & Associates within the Company Profiles & News !! forums, part of the Mirror View - Ebooks Links & Miscellenous Reading Material category; W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. is a manufacturing company specializing in products derived from fluoropolymers. It is a privately ...
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Company Profile of W. L. Gore & Associates
Company Profile of W. L. Gore & Associates - May 14th, 2011
W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. is a manufacturing company specializing in products derived from fluoropolymers. It is a privately held corporation headquartered in Newark, Delaware, with operations around the globe. Although best known as the developer of waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex fabrics, Gore’s products are also used in a variety of industrial and consumer products, such as electronic signal transmission, diverse industrial applications and medical implants.
The company was founded in 1958 by Wilbert (Bill) Lee Gore and his wife Genevieve (Vieve) Walton Gore in Newark. Bill Gore had spent 16 years with the DuPont Company in a number of technical positions that included fluoropolymer research when he decided to form his own company. While working in his basement, he set out to develop a process for insulating a series of parallel electrical wires using polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a fluoropolymer discovered in 1938 by Roy Plunkett, a chemist with DuPont. His son, Robert W. Gore (Bob), in college at the time, suggested a method for encapsulating the wires which proved successful and led to the company’s first patent. The resulting product was called Multi-Tet cable, a multi-conductor ribbon cable used in computers, communications, and process control equipment.
The company operated from the basement of the Gores' home until 1960, when an order from the Denver Water Company for seven and a half miles of Multi-Tet cable made it necessary to expand manufacturing capacity. The Gores built a new facility in Delaware, not far from their home, which is still in operation. By 1970, Gore and its subsidiary companies had manufacturing plants for wire and cable in Arizona, Scotland, Germany, and Japan.
Bob Gore joined the company in 1963 upon completion of a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota. In 1969, he was researching a process for stretching extruded PTFE into pipe thread tape when he discovered that the polymer could be “expanded.” The discovery followed a series of unsuccessful experiments in which he was attempting to stretch rods of PTFE by about 10%. As it turned out, the right conditions for stretching PTFE were counterintuitive. Instead of slowly stretching the heated material, he applied a sudden, accelerating yank that unexpectedly caused it to stretch about 800%. This resulted in the transformation of the solid PTFE into a microporous structure that was about 70% air. The company initially referred to this new material as “fibrillated PTFE”. One year later, it was given the name of “Gore-Tex expanded PTFE”. Today, expanded PTFE (ePTFE) accounts for the vast majority of the company's products.
In 1985, Bill Gore received the Prince Philip Award for Polymers in the Service of Mankind, which honored Gore’s Medical Products Division. The award is given in recognition of polymers that have provided a significant service for mankind. In 2005, the Society of Chemical Industry presented Bob Gore with the Perkin Medal, which recognizes the most significant achievements in applied chemistry. In 2006, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the invention of ePTFE.
Bill Gore served as president of the company until 1976, when Bob Gore assumed the position. Bill continued as chairman until he died in 1986 at the age of 74. Genevieve (Vieve) Gore continued in active service to the company until she died in 2005 at the age of 91.
Charles (Chuck) Carroll, a long-term business leader in the Electronics and Fabrics Divisions, replaced Bob Gore as president in 2000. Terri Kelly, who joined Gore in 1983 as a mechanical engineer in the Fabrics Division, became president in 2005. Bob Gore continues as Chairman of the Board. The company remains privately held. Gore is one of the 200 largest privately held companies in the United States. Gore and its subsidiaries employ approximately 8,500 associates at more than 50 facilities throughout the world in East Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas.
W.L. Gore & Associates Inc. is a high-technology company that develops and manufactures fluoropolymer products used in aerospace, clothing, medical, automotive, chemical, electronic, and other applications. With operations spanning the globe, Gore's most notable product is Gore-Tex, a high-performance fabric developed in the late 1960s. All in all, the company has over 650 U.S. patents to its name. Known for its unique lattice system of management, W.L. Gore repeatedly has been cited as one of the best 100 companies to work for in the United States.
The weather might be cold, wet, and uncomfortable, but W. L. Gore & Associates wants you to enjoy the outdoors, anyway. The company makes a variety of fluoropolymer products; best known is its breathable, waterproof, and windproof Gore-Tex brand fabric. Textile applications range from clothing and shoes to Elixir guitar strings, space suits, and sutures. In addition to consumer apparel (popular among hikers and hunters), W. L. Gore makes insulated wire and cables, filtration products, and sealants. Its textile lineup is offered under the Gore-Tex brand as well as Windstopper (outerwear) and Cleanstream (filters). The Gore family owns about 75% of the company, and Gore employees own the rest.
Gore's success continued into the late 1990s and beyond due mostly to the company's consistent drive to add innovative new products to its arsenal. In 1996 alone, the company was issued a record 89 U.S. patents. The company launched its Elixir line of guitar strings in 1997, and the brand quickly became the leader in the U.S. market. A new group of Gore-Tex fabrics made their debut the following year. Along with new product introductions in its medical division, Gore also became well known for its contributions in the development of fuel cell technology. In the mid-1990s, the company began developing Membrane Electrode Assemblies (MEAs), which were used in the polymer electrolyte, or proton exchange, membrane (PEM) fuel cell industry. The firm's first MEA was offered in 1995, followed by a second-generation launch two years later. Gore became the first commercial supplier in 2002 with the release of the Series 56 MEAs, which were used in stationary PEM fuel cells.
Gore entered the new century on solid ground. A March 2000 Industry Week article summed up the company's success with the statement that "few companies can claim that their products have orbited the earth, been on top of Mt. Everest, appeared on Seinfeld, and even helped mend some broken hearts." Indeed, with over 650 U.S. patents to its name and thousands across the globe, Gore's ability to cross over into cutting-edge technologies within the electronics and medical industries helped to secure its position as a leading privately held company. By this time, the company's medical products line, which included synthetic vascular grafts, interventional devices, surgical meshes used in hernia repair, and surgical sutures, had been used in over 7.5 million procedures.
While the company continued to develop new products, it also focused on cost-cutting measures and streamlining in order to maintain its remarkable financial track record. Fortune magazine reported in 2003 that Gore had posted a profit every year since its founding. In August 2002, the firm announced that it planned to sell off its fiber optic business. Gore sold its Glide Dental Floss unit to Proctor & Gamble the following year but continued to manufacture the product under the terms of the agreement.
W.L. Gore & Associates attributed many of its achievements throughout its history to the unique management structure that empowered company associates worldwide. Although the business environment surrounding the firm had shifted dramatically since its founding in 1958, Gore's basic guiding ideology set forth by the founder himself remained unchanged. The firm continued to adhere to its values--fairness, encouragement, holding steadfast to commitments, and open communication among associates--and with many years of success behind it, W.L. Gore appeared to be on track for good fortune in the years to come.
Principal Operating Units: Medical Products; Electronic Products; Industrial Products; Fabric Products.
Principal Competitors: Belden Inc.; Burlington Industries Inc.; Malden Mills Inc.
The immense success of Gore's teflon-insulated wire and cable products, combined with savvy management during the middle and late 1960s, resulted in explosive growth at Gore. Indeed, during the late 1960s, Gore established manufacturing and sales operations in Arizona, Scotland, and Germany and even launched a venture partnership in Japan. The company continued to post big gains during the 1970s as well. Perhaps more important to Gore's success during the 1970s and 1980s than the company's management system, however, was a pivotal product innovation that would help to make Gore one of the most successful private companies in the United States. That innovation came in 1969, about the time that Bill's son Bob became president of the company (Bob and his mother, the secretary and treasurer of the company, were the only two employees in the company with job titles).
Bob, who had gone to work at Gore after receiving his Ph.D. in chemistry, discovered that teflon could be quickly stretched to produce a material with many of the properties that scientists had been trying for years to create. Under the right conditions, the product could be stretched to form a material that was as strong as the original teflon and laced with microscopic holes, the size of which could be adjusted in the manufacturing process. The breakthrough was momentous because of the numerous properties exhibited by the material. For example, it shed water droplets like other synthetic materials but was also breathable and would allow small airborne moisture particles and body heat to move through the fabric. The obvious advantage: stretched teflon could be used to make waterproof clothing that was also breathable.
W.L. Gore & Associates applied for a patent for their invention in May 1970. The Gores dubbed the new material Gore-Tex. The patent was granted in 1976, by which time Gore was already marketing a number of products made with Gore-Tex. Among other advantages, Gore-Tex was chemically inert and resistant to infection. That made it an excellent material for dozens of medical applications--artificial arteries made with Gore-Tex, for example, eventually accounted for about 85 percent of this market segment throughout the world. It was also beneficial for various uses ranging from household items to defense-industry goods. Gore-Tex was used to manufacture space suits and sporting apparel, as well as dental floss and telecommunications gear. By the late 1980s, filters made with Gore-Tex were being used in virtually every intravenous bag in the world. In fact, Gore-Tex became the fabric of choice in most applications that necessitated a high flow-rate along with maximum particle retention in both air and liquid filtration.
Gore experienced explosive growth during the 1970s and early 1980s, mostly as a result of the breakthrough success of Gore-Tex. The still-private company remained tight-lipped as always about its financial performance. Its success, though, was clearly evidenced by the rapid expansion of production facilities and sales and marketing offices. Gore was soon peddling its products throughout the world. Besides pushing Gore-Tex, the company continued to expand its other product lines and to develop new ideas. For example, Gore was called in to custom-manufacture teflon-insulated cable to help in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. It also broadened its teflon-coated cable products to meet new needs in computer, telecommunications, aerospace, and medical industries. Still, Gore-Tex became the company's cash cow and eventually grew to represent more than 80 percent of the organization's revenues.
By the mid-1980s, Gore was churning out an estimated $200 million to $300 million in annual revenues and supporting a whopping 29 plants throughout the world; its workforce ballooned to 4,200 worldwide. In addition to his inventions, Bill Gore was being lauded as a leading contributor to the art and science of management. Bill Gore died on July 26, 1986, at the age of 74, of a heart attack suffered while hiking in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. Gore had been known for taking extended treks in the outdoors. On this particular occasion, he had been hiking with his wife and several grandchildren. "If a man could flow with the stream, grow with the way of nature, he'd accomplish more and he'd be happier doing it than bucking the flow of the water," Vieve Gore recalled of her husband's business philosophy.
Fiscal Year End: March
Revenue (2010): 2500.00 M
Revenue Growth (1 yr): 25.00%
Employees (2010): 9,000
Employee Growth (1 yr): 12.50%
Sales: $1.2 billion (2003)
NAIC: 325211 Plastics Material and Resin Manufacturing; 325212 Synthetic Rubber Manufacturing; 331222 Steel Wire Drawing; 334412 Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing; 334417 Electronic Connector Manufacturing; 334511 Search, Detection, Navigation, Guidance, Aeronautical, and Nautical System and Instrument Manufacturing
1958: Wilbert L. Gore leaves his job at DuPont to start his own company.
1967: A second plant goes online in Flagstaff, Arizona.
1970: The company applies for a patent for Gore-Tex.
1976: The patent for Gore-Tex is granted.
1990: After years of legal battles, W.L. Gore loses some of its patent rights to Gore-Tex.
1995: The company introduces a membrane electrode assembly, which is used in fuel cell technology.
1997: The Elixir guitar strings line is launched.
2003: W.L. Gore sells its Glide Dental Floss unit to Proctor & Gamble.
• CEO: Terri Kelly
• Global Sales Leader: Marty Sylvain
• Technical Contact: Jim Whetzel
551 Paper Mill Road
Newark, Delaware 19711
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