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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

STANDARD PRODUCTS CO.

STANDARD PRODUCTS CO.

STANDARD PRODUCTS CO. , a division of Cooper Tire and Rubber Co., was founded ca. 1930 and is a world leader in the manufacture and production of rubber and plastic parts for the AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY. The company was founded by Dr. JAMES SIMS REID, a physician-turned-inventor. Reid's first invention for the automotive industry was a much improved gas cap, which he produced and marketed through his own Easy-on-Cap Co., founded in 1921. He sold this company to the Eaton Axle Co. (see EATON CORP.) in 1928, and immediately started experimenting with steel tape for use in the automotive industry. The experiments led to patents for flexible window channels to ease the opening and closing of automobile windows. Reid founded Standard Products Co. primarily to manufacture these greatly improved window channels of perforated steel tape, felt, and rubber, but Reid continued to invent many other products.

Standard Products merged with another Reid company, Reid Products, founded 1930, in 1946. The enlarged Standard Products Co. moved its headquarters to 2130 W. 110th St. Although automotive window channels continued to be its principal product, Standard soon added metal stampings, a "new, revolutionary" rotary automobile lock, and seals for commercial refrigerators and freezers, as well as seals for the residential door and window industry to its line of products. In the post-World War II period, the company developed electrostatically flocked rubber channels and weatherstrips, which later became standard in the automotive industry. The company built a product development facility in Dearborn, MI, so it could be centrally located to the engineering departments of its largest customers. By 1954, all cars made in the U.S. contained at least one of Standard's products, and some had as many as fifty. In 1962, James R. Reid, jr. assumed control of the company from his father and ushered it through a period of continued expansion that lasted into the 1990s. Standard organized a Canadian subsidiary by purchasing four plants in Ontario during the 1960s, and in the following decade Standard acquired several additional companies, including rubber companies. Through its Oliver Rubber subsidiary, Standard became the second largest U.S. manufacturer and supplier of tread rubber and related tooling support to the tire retreading industry, with annual sales over $124 million.

The company continued to grow and prosper. In 1992, Standard Products acquired Standard Products Industriel- a French-based licensee for Standard Products- for $123 million in cash. The acquisition, which gave Standard Products access to European customers, was the firm's largest acquisition to date. By 1994, the company was one of the leading suppliers of complete sealing, trimming, and vibration control systems to the worldwide automotive industry. Standard Products also had two other divisions: Holm Industries, an appliance seal maker, and Oliver Rubber Co., a producer of rubber for retreading truck tires. Through 39 facilities in North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe, the company generated, in fiscal year 1994, sales over $872 million. In 1995, with sales approaching nearly $1 billion annually, Standard Products moved its headquarters to Dearborn, Michigan, to be closer to its main customers. In 1996, the company's sales reached $1.08 billion. In 1997, James S. Reid, jr. was replaced by Ronald L. Roudebush as Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the company. In 1999, Findlay, Ohio-based tire maker Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. purchased Standard Products for $757.4 million in stock and an assumption of Standard's debt. A combination of manufacturing and licensing arrangements has allowed Standard Products to be involved with almost every automobile on the road. Its products appear on more than 100 car, van, and light truck models manufactured worldwide.