LOUISVILLE, Ky.—John Stothard remembers when you would back your car out of the garage and see those tiny, black spots dot the cement floor.
Back then, it was not uncommon for drops of oil to leak from the engine and stain your garage floor.
Not any longer. Thanks to new technology, in part developed by Stothard's company, Zeon Chemicals L.P., those days are history.
“You don't get that (leakage) anymore because of the technology that goes into the gaskets,” said Stothard, vice president and general manager of Zeon's Elastomers Division, sitting in his office in Louisville.
“The temperature (inside the vehicle) has increased dramatically, but the gaskets keep all the oil in, and you should have nothing on the garage floor, unless you've got an old car,” he said.
The automotive industry continues to be one of the driving forces of Zeon Chemicals, which specializes in heat-resistant and oil-resistant elastomers. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based Zeon Corp., which produces elastomers, polymers and specialty chemicals, with combined sales of more than $2.9 billion. It employs more than 3,300 worldwide.
According to Stothard, Zeon's Louisville facility supplies up to half of its products to the automotive sector. Another 10 to 15 percent goes into the oil and gas industry.
“We're looking at ways to reduce fuel consumption,” he said.
It's been more than a year since Zeon completed a capacity expansion at the Louisville plant, which was constructed in the early 1940s as part of the World War II effort. The facility formerly served as a B.F. Goodrich facility that had been divided between units it owned previously, including a Lubrizol Corp. facility and Occidental Petroleum Co. polyvinyl chloride manufacturer.