KENT, Ohio— The next time you're in a cafe, absent may be the machine-producing noise associated with creating a fruit smoothie. Consider Sorbothane Inc.'s role in making that appreciated difference.
The Kent-based company creates products related to isolating vibration, reducing shock and depressing noise. Notably, Sorbothane gaskets since 2010 have eliminated noise in Vitamix commercial and residential blenders known as The Quiet One.
Typically, ratting, shaking or vibrating activities can reduce the life of a component. That's where Sorbothane's gaskets and other products come in, Sorbothane President David Church said.
“It has a high ability to take the shock and disburse the energy through the material,” he said.
Sorbothane, a proprietary urethane, was invented around 1975 as a joint initiative between former owner BTR of London and the British government. The performance of insoles, elbow gear, knee pads and Wilson baseball gloves are enhanced by Sorbothane. Likewise, anti-vibration mounts used in space travel and anti-vibration pads with washing machines contain Sorbothane's shock-absorbing material.
“There's Sorbothane all around you, you just don't see it or notice it,” Church said.
The eponymously named company was acquired in 2003 by brothers-in-law Robert Boyd and Raymond Yozwiak.
“It's a little like Silly Putty with a memory,” co-owner Boyd said about the material in a phone interview. “I tell people to reach and squeeze your arm; the body has elasticity and has recovery.”
So, too, does Sorbothane.
Boyd's sales and marketing history with industrial products includes 28 years with the B.F. Goodrich Company of Akron, followed by, in 1983, being a 20-year employee with Sorbothane's former two owners, BTR then Trelleborg. He told his last employer—Trelleborg—to contact him if and when they wanted to sell Sorbothane, at that time part of the Swedish company's automotive division.
Boyd wanted to buy the business because it had a proven track record with BTR and Trelleborg.
“We never lost money. We had good years and bad years, but we never had a negative year,” he said. “The fact that I had run the business and knew the market, that was a factor. I had confidence we could maintain it and grow it.”
A few years later, Boyd got that call, the brothers-in-law became the new owners and the company has performed in keeping with Boyd's original expectations.