NORTHBROOK, ILL. — Rogan Corp. is one of those unusual plastics processors that have been around for more than a few decades.
But even though the Northbrook firm is nearly 81 years old, it still seems like a start-up company.
That's because Rogan has constantly reinvented itself. The latest move is into custom work, including newer capabilities in clean room and liquid silicone molding.
“We've changed many, many times over the years. That's how we've managed to survive,” said President David Schoessow, who's been with Rogan for 36 of its 80 years. (The company turns 81 in March.)
Initially the company specialized in hot stamping, and then compression molding Bakelite knobs. In those early days, its expertise was in tooling and developing a wide variety of knobs. Rogan considers those proprietary products, and it still makes quite a few of them.
Over time, the knob businesses changed. Remember how early microwave ovens had knobs instead of touch pads? Have you seen stoves with touch pads now, too?
As the market changed, Rogan adapted. Customers moved from control knobs to clamping knobs, and then from analog to digital controls. So Rogan moved into injection molding, then two-shot molding, and finally LSR.
The result is that Rogan has a lot of experience with different molding technologies. Now the company is pursuing more custom work, marketing its expertise to other companies.
“We've had a proprietary product over the years. Now we're selling our capabilities to help customers solve the problems that they've had,” Schoessow said.
Capitalizing on two-shot expertise
One customer that's come on board is Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Constructive Eating Inc. The company makes colorful eating utensils for children, with designs like garden fairies and heavy-duty trucks.
Constructive Eating turned to Rogan to take advantage of the company's two-shot molding experience. Previously, some of the Constructive Eating tableware was molded in Shenzhen, China, using a more labor-intensive overmolding technique.
“I was looking for a two-shot molder specifically knowing that if we brought [the molding] back stateside, the only way we could make that work would be if we could reduce the labor of people manipulating the parts,” said Constructive Eating founder and CEO Carter Malcolm.
“Rogan built the tool for the two-shot process. They gave us some good tips back and forth to improve the moldability. We worked to refine the design to be very conducive to that process,” Malcolm said.
Malcolm said Rogan has “exceptional customer service. They're absolutely great to work with. We're constantly adjusting our quantities. They worked very hard with us to make sure we're not on back order.”
Constructive Eating started working with Rogan in 2009. Now Rogan is making more tools — for new products that Constructive Eating will introduce later this year.