In April, Ralph Wilson Plastics (now Wilsonart) begins producing laminate with a handful of employees. The company was the newest manufacturer to enter the decorative laminate industry and had 16 larger competitors. Formica, RWP’s largest competitor, had 65% of the market.
When the plant was first opened, it consisted of one 40,800 sq. ft. building, one 4'x12' press, and one sand and trim line.
The Southwest Region came into existence.
The first distribution center opened in Los Angeles in May 1956. The first shipment, unloaded the day after Labor Day, was cut into sheets with a Skilsaw and delivered to customers from the backseat of a '53 Buick.
Within three months of the company’s opening its warehouse in California, the plant in Temple was running 24 hours-a-day.
The first two treaters arrive from Germany; one specialized in phenolic resin, the other in melamine resin.
Mr. Wilson was a proud 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 his business.
In order to fulfill their promise of "Ten working days anywhere in the USA!", RWP buys a fleet of trucks, each staffed by two over-the-road drivers, to ensure continuous operation.
A second press, this one 5'X10', begins production. The building area increases by 40,300 square feet, and the Temple plant officially grows to a total size of 105,000 square feet.
Dr. Ralph Wilson, Jr. (aka “Dr. Ralph") leaves his dental practice in Los Angeles at the age of 35 and moves to Temple to run the business after Mr. Ralph's health goes into decline.
1961 saw a major turning point in the company, with the purchase of Press No.3, the first 5'X12' press to begin making postforming laminate. RWP is the first in the industry to use this size of press, allowing customers to get material for two kitchen tops from one sheet, one pressing.
The Wilson family purchases the company shares from the Wynne and Brashear families, early partners in RWP.
RWP becomes a publicly held corporation with an initial offering of 290,000 shares at $15.
Rexall Drug and Chemical buy Ralph Wilson Plastics.
Mr. Ralph is made a director of Rexall.
Dr. Ralph Wilson, Jr. becomes President.
Ralph Wilson, Sr. becomes Chairman.
April - Rexall Drug and Chemical Company officially changes name to Dart Industries.
Adhesives manufacturing is added to the company’s product portfolio, with the purchase of Southern General Adhesives located in Denham Springs, Louisiana.
The PPM (Panel Products Manufacturing) Department is created to support the Panel business (Poly-Board).
The company's founder, Mr. Ralph Wilson, Sr., dies on January 31st.
Wilsonart invents and patents Chemsurf® chemical resistant laminate.
Design Group I is established and consists of 108 items, with an additional 150 items in the total line. Total product offering in 1975 was approximately 350 - 400 items.
Wilsonart introduces two pioneering products to the market: Chem-Surf (now Chemsurf®), colorful chemical-resistant laminate surfacing, and Tuf-Surf (now High Wear Laminate), abrasion resistant laminate surfacing.
Wilsonart introduces its Decorative Metals collection—metallic-look laminates with a phenolic backed foil. The metals are produced by Wilsonart through a licensing agreement with the Dekadur Company, original developer of the production process.
Fletcher, North Carolina plant opens to serve customers mainly on the East Coast – the opening of this plant represents a clear turning point in making Wilsonart #1.
By this time, RWP is commonly referred to as "Wilsonart".
Dart Industries merges with Kraft Foods to become Dart and Kraft, Inc.
Metal Core Laminate production begins in Temple.
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. become suppliers of the product.
Specialty Products PPM becomes RWP Specialty Products Department.
Wilsonart introduces Solicor® Colorthrough Decorative Laminate to the market. Produced in Temple, this product features color throughout the thickness of the laminate sheet, eliminating the brown phenolic line.
Construction begins on a new adhesive manufacturing and R&D facility in Temple, Texas.
In September, the Temple North plant opens; original plant is renamed Temple South.
In November, Dart and Kraft, Inc. splits into Kraft, Inc. and Premark International, Inc. RWP becomes part of the Premark family.
Dr. Ralph retires from RWP and Premark positions.
Bobby Dillon becomes president of RWP and Premark's Decorative Products Group.
RWP purchases Suncraft Moldings and introduces Custom Edges under the brand name Perma-Edge. Production of custom edges begins in Temple.
Gibraltar® 1/2" solid surfacing product line introduced to the market.
RWP implements the Total Quality Process.
RWP completes the Temple-North expansion.
RWP retires the original laminate press (Press No.1) at Temple-South.
Bobby Dillon becomes Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
Bill Reeb becomes President and Chief Operating Officer.
Wilsonart begins distribution of the A-Look Mirror Metal line produced by Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation.
Bill Reeb is named Corporate Vice President of Premark.
RWP officially becomes known as Wilsonart International, Inc. ("Wilsonart").
Bobby Dillon retires from RWP and Premark positions.
Wilsonart purchases a 140,000 square foot building, plus 15.5 acres of land at 3301 Center Street, Temple, Texas to establish a flooring manufacturing plant.
Marker Board laminate production begins in Temple.
Wilsonart introduces Custom Laminates.
Wilsonart and Aristech Chemical Corporation form a strategic alliance to switch Gibraltar® sheet goods from a polyester based product to acrylic. Aristech takes over production of the Gibraltar® product.
The International Operations Center in Temple is established.
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.
Gibraltar® integrated 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).
Wilsonart Germany GmbH, Bensheim, opens; Wilsonart launches a full scale European effort at Interzum '97.
Wilsonart breaks ground on a manufacturing facility in China (Shanghai).
Premark FEG GmbH & Co. KG and Premark Canada, Inc. acquire Resopal (Germany) and Arborite (Canada).
A seventh laminate press is added to the Fletcher, NC manufacturing facility.
A new aerosol adhesive is introduced.
Wilsonart Thailand Co., Ltd. is established and begins manufacturing high-pressure laminate for the Asian market.
Wilsonart Limited acquires Direct Worktops, the leading manufacturer of countertop components in the United Kingdom.
Press No. 6 begins production at Temple-North Plant.
Wilsonart becomes part of the ITW family when Premark merges with Illinois Tool Works, Inc.
Wilsonart officially opens its first manufacturing facility in China (Shanghai).
ITW divides the Wilsonart businesses into separate units: Wilsonart North America, Wilsonart Flooring, Wilsonart Asia, and Wilsonart Europe.
Wilsonart® HD® High Definition® Laminate is introduced.
Bill DiGaetano becomes President.
Wilsonart celebrates 50 years of business.
Wilsonart HD sales grow throughout the US, supported by national consumer advertising and the company’s first-ever television spot.
Polyrey, a leading manufacturer of decorative surfaces in France, is acquired, expanding Wilsonart's global footprint.
The Wilsonart Laminate line is divided into residential (Wilsonart Home) and commercial (Wilsonart Contract) collections and adopts a new strategy of marketing separately to each audience.
National consumer advertising continues to support Wilsonart HD sales growth.
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 AEON™ Enhanced Performance Technology is further integrated into the line through 2009 and 2010.
Wilsonart Flooring operation closes.
Bill DiGaetano retires as President, Wilsonart North America
Kristen Manos becomes President
Wilsonart and its international sister brands Arborite, Polyrey, and Resopal become Wilsonart LLC, an independent global company, in November 2012.
Wilsonart LLC is established as an independent, global company, with headquarters established in Austin, Texas.
Growth continues with the acquisition of Durcon, in Taylor, Texas. Durcon is best known for its durable epoxy resin surfaces.
Wilsonart® Virtual Design Library - a curated collection of unique designs; and Wilsonart X You - one of a kind custom laminate are launched.
Wilsonart® Coordinated Surfaces is introduced - a suite of products (Wilsonart® High Pressure Laminate, TFL Panels, and Edgeband) available in 237 designs that are the best matched products in the industry in both design and texture.
Wilsonart celebrated the 10th anniversary of Wilsonart Challenges, a student design chair competition that engages design students in creating chairs that celebrate the richness of laminate surfacing materials without the restraints of mass production. Wilsonart provides each participating school with a grant, an unlimited supply of laminate for experimentation, underwrites the lectures, and provides technical staff to work one-on-one with students as they problem-solve building their design. Each year, Wilsonart flies several outstanding students and their chairs to the ICFF where their designs are showcased, and the overall winner is awarded a scholarship for their design.
Wilsonart introduces Quartz with 50 exclusive designs for residential and commercial customers.
Wilsonart launches antimicrobial protection for residential laminate.