Our History

1950’S

1956

In April, RWP began production of laminate with a handful of employees. The company is the last manufacturer to enter the decorative laminate industry and has 16 larger competitors. Formica, the largest competitor, has 65% of the market. The plant consisted of a 40,800 sq. ft. building, one 4’x12′ press and a sand and trim line.

The Southwest Region came into existence.

The first distribution center opens in Los Angeles in May. The first shipment, unloaded the day after Labor Day, was cut into sheets with a Skilsaw and delivered to customers in the back seat of a ’53 Buick.

Within three months after the company opened its warehouse in California, the plant in Temple was running 24 hours a day.

1957

The first two treaters arrive from Germany, one for phenolic resin, the other for melamine resin.

Mr. Ralph was an extremist on one subject: “customer service”. He felt that “better service” was what allowed him to enter the business and what would allow him to grow in the business.

“Ten working days anywhere in the USA!” Ralph Wilson Plastics proceeded to buy trucks, each staffed by two over-the-road drivers for continuous operation.

1959

Press No. 2, a 5’X10′ Press, begins production. The building area increased by 40,300 square feet and the Temple plant had grown to 105,000 square feet.

1960’S

1960

Dr. Ralph Wilson, Jr., “Dr. Ralph”, at the age of 35, leaves his dental practice in Los Angeles and moves to Temple to run the business after Mr. Ralph’s health declines.

Chicago & Hayward regional centers open.

1961

A major turning point in the company was the purchase of Press No.3, the first 5’X12′ press to begin making postforming laminate. Being the first in the industry to use this size press, allowed customers to get material for two kitchen tops from one sheet, one pressing.

1962

New York regional center opens.

1963

Atlanta regional center opens.

1964

The Wilson family purchases the company shares from the Wynne and Brashear families.

RWP becomes a publicly held corporation with an initial offering of 290,000 shares at $15.

Miami regional center opens.

1966

Rexall Drug and Chemical buys Ralph Wilson Plastics.

Mr. Ralph is elected a director of Rexall.

1967

Dr. Ralph Wilson, Jr. becomes President.

Ralph Wilson, Sr. becomes Chairman.

Pennsauken and Seattle regional centers open.

1969

April – Rexall Drug and Chemical Company officially changes name to Dart Industries.

1970’S

1970

Atlanta Metro regional center opens.

Adhesives — Adhesives manufacturing is added with the purchase of Southern General Adhesives located in Denham Springs, Louisiana.

197O

The PPM (Panel Products Manufacturing) Department is created to support the Panel business (Poly-Board).

1972

The company’s founder Mr. Ralph Wilson, Sr. dies on January 31st.

1973

Boston and Denver regional centers open.

1974

Performance Laminates Chemsurf® chemical resistant laminate is invented and patented by Wilsonart.

Dallas regional center open.

1975

Design Group I established. Design Group I has 108 items with an additional 150 items in the total line. Total offering in 1975 was approximately 350 – 400 items.

Performance Laminates Chem-Surf (now Chemsurf), colorful chemical-resistant laminate surfacing, and Tuf-Surf (now High Wear Laminate), abrasion resistant laminate surfacing, two new pioneering products, are introduced to the market.

1976

Detroit regional center opens.

Decorative Metals — Wilsonart introduces metallic look laminates with a phenolic backed foil. Produced in Temple by Wilsonart through a licensing agreement with the Dekodur company, developer of the production process.

1979

Fletcher, North Carolina plant opens to serve customers mainly on the East Coast. Everyone in the Temple Plant recognized the importance of this new plant. “The Fletcher plant is the real turning point. It gives us the opportunity to finish the plan…to become #1.”

By this time, RWP is commonly referred to as “Wilsonart”.

1980’S

1980

Dart Industries merges with Kraft Foods to become Dart and Kraft, Inc.

Performance Laminates — Metal Core Laminate production begins in Temple.

1981

Columbus regional center opens and Denver closes in the 1980s.

1982

Decorative Metals — Wilsonart begins distribution of anodized aluminum panels available in 18 colors and finishes. Lorin Industries of Muskegon, Mich. and Aluminum Coil Anodizing Corporation of Streamwood, Ill. are suppliers of the product

1983

Specialty Products PPM changed to RWP Specialty Products Department.

1984

Specialty Laminates Solicor® Colorthrough Decorative Laminate introduced to the market by Wilsonart. Produced in Temple, this product features color throughout the thickness of the laminate sheet, eliminating the brown phenolic line.

1985

A new adhesive manufacturing and R&D facility is built in Temple, Texas.

1986

September – The Temple North plant opens; original plant renamed Temple South.

November – Dart and Kraft, Inc. splits into Kraft, Inc. and Premark International, Inc. RWP becomes part of the Premark family.

Houston regional center opens.

1989

June – Dr. Ralph retires from RWP and Premark positions.

Bobby Dillon becomes president of RWP and Premark’s Decorative Products Group.

1990’S

1990

RWP purchases Suncraft Moldings and introduces Custom Edges under the brand name Perma-Edge. Production of custom edges begins in Temple.

Solid – Surfacing Gibraltar® 1/2″ solid surfacing product line introduced to the market. Gibraltar® began as a polyester based material.

1991

August – RWP implements the Total Quality Process.

October – RWP completes the Temple-North expansion.

1992

RWP retires the original laminate press (Press No. 1) at Temple-South.

1993

August – Bobby Dillon becomes chairman and chief executive officer.

Bill Reeb becomes president and chief operating officer.

Decorative Metals – Wilsonart begins distribution of the A-Look Mirror Metal line produced by Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation.

1994

November – Bill Reeb named corporate vice president of Premark.

1995

RWP officially becomes known as Wilsonart International, Inc. (“Wilsonart”).

Bobby Dillon retires from RWP and Premark positions.

Phoenix regional center opens.

Wilsonart purchases a building at 3301 Center Street, Temple. 140,000 square feet plus 15.5 acres of land to establish a flooring manufacturing plant.

Marker board laminate production begins in Temple.

Custom laminates are introduced to the market.

Solid – Surfacing Wilsonart and Aristech Chemical Corporation form a strategic alliance to switch Gibraltar® sheet goods from a polyester based product to acrylic. Production of the Gibraltar® product is switched from Wilsonart to Aristech.

The International Operations Center in Temple is established.

1996

Decorative Metals — Wilsonart reaches supply agreement with Surface Design and Technology for distribution of the Artisan Group of aluminum textured design panels.

The first truck of laminate Flooring is shipped.

Solid Surfacing Gibraltar® integral sinks are Introduced to the market and are produced in Temple.

Wilsonart Limited, UK, is established to meet the needs of the European marketplace; additional Wilsonart sales offices are opened in Singapore, Korea (Seoul), and People’s Republic of China (Shanghai).

1997

Toronto regional center opens.

Wilsonart Germany GmbH, Bensheim, opens; Wilsonart launches a full scale European effort at Interzum ’97.

Wilsonart breaks ground on a manufacturing facility in People’s Republic of China (Shanghai).

Resopal (Germany) and Arborite (Canada) are acquired by Premark FEG GmbH & Co. KG and Premark Canada, Inc.

A seventh laminate press is added to the Fletcher, NC, manufacturing facility.

A new aerosol adhesive is introduced.

1998

Wilsonart Thailand Co., Ltd. is established and begins manufacturing high-pressure laminate for the Asian market.

Minneapolis regional center opens.

Wilsonart Limited acquires Direct Worktops, the leading manufacturer of countertop components in the United Kingdom.

1999

Press No. 6 starts production at Temple North Plant.

1999

Wilsonart becomes part of the ITW family, when Premark merges with Illinois Tool Works, Inc.

2000’S

2000

Wilsonart officially opens its first manufacturing facility in People’s Republic of China (Shanghai).

ITW divides the Wilsonart businesses into separate units: Wilsonart North America, Wilsonart Flooring, Wilsonart Asia, Wilsonart Europe.

2005

Wilsonart® HD® High Definition® Laminate is introduced.

Bill DiGaetano becomes president.

2006

Wilsonart celebrates 50 years of doing business in decorative surfaces.

Wilsonart HD sales grow throughout the US, supported by national consumer advertising and its first television spot.

2007

The Wilsonart Laminate line is divided into residential (Wilsonart Home) and commercial (Wilsonart Contract) collections and begins to be marketed separately to each audience.

National consumer advertising continues to support Wilsonart HD sales growth.

2008

AEON™ Enhanced Performance Technology is perfected and begins to roll out on Wilsonart HD and Premium laminate designs. AEON provides high performance scuff/mar and wear-resistance to smooth surfaces such as Gloss (01) and Textured Gloss (07), as well as newer offerings like Mirage (35), Facet (45) and Quarry (52). The new technology is further integrated into the line through 2009 and 2010.

2010’S

2010

Wilsonart Flooring operation closes.

2012

Bill DiGaetano retires as President, Wilsonart North America.

2012

Kristen Manos becomes President.

2012

Wilsonart, and its international sister brands Arborite, Polyrey and Resopal, became Wilsonart LLC, an independent, global company, in November 2012