RDAbbott Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Kindness, Continuity, and Change

RDAbbott is celebrating its 75th anniversary and launching a year-long campaign called 75 Acts of Kindness that will give back to its communities, industries, and employees. The company was founded on December 14, 1948, by Robert David Abbott, a Southern California entrepreneur with a passion for education and the local rubber industry. RDAbbott has evolved from a regional distributor into a multi-faceted supplier that innovates across distribution, materials science, process engineering, and product customization. Yet it remains true to its roots of putting people ahead of profit.

Mr. Abbott started the company that bears his name after retiring from The C.P. Hall Company, the forerunner of Hallstar, in the years after World War II. To support the booming industry, he later teamed up with fellow members of The Los Angeles Rubber Group, Inc. (TLARGI) to develop a rubber technology curriculum at the University of Southern California (USC). The curriculum supported Bachelor of Science and master’s degree programs. Unfortunately, Mr. Abbott passed away during the curriculum’s inaugural year in 1958.

When USC discontinued the curriculum in the 80’s, TLARGI modified its content into a “Basic Rubber Technology” course. Not only is this course still being taught today, but RDAbbott had the privilege of hosting and teaching it for over two decades.

After Mr. Abbott’s passing, six additional leaders helped to transform RDAbbott into the company it is today.

Carl Hoglund, Mr. Abbott’s right-hand man, was instrumental in commercializing Chemlok®, a novel adhesive technology patented by Dr. Donald Alstadt—Mr. Hoglund’s former schoolmate and chemist at LORD Corporation (now Parker Lord).

Then in 1966, Mr. Hoglund partnered with Johnny Arensmeyer, owner of Veraco Die, and they merged their businesses into RDAbbott.

When Mr. Hoglund retired in 1979, Mr. Arensmeyer extended ownership to Bob and Eloise Baatz, two long-time employees. After Mr. Arensmeyer retired in 1992, Jerry Wicker began leading and broadened RDAbbott’s product lines to include dispersions, additives, modifiers, colors, and fillers.

Keith Thomas, the current CEO of RDAbbott, joined in 2001 and continued the company’s expansion into various high-value polymers, as well as geographically across North America.

In 2017, RDAbbott took another big step by purchasing Novation Solutions, LLC, an Ohio-based dispersions manufacturer. Novation Solutions, known in the market now as NovationSi, is the manufacturing subsidiary of RDAbbott. NovationSi specializes in modifiers, additives, and colors for silicone; custom liquid silicone rubber (LSR) compounds; and highly specialized elastomer products.

In California, RDAbbott’s headquarters have moved from Temple City to Long Beach, Santa Fe Springs, Cerritos, and now Garden Grove. With the addition of NovationSi, RDAbbott built a second Service Center that also serves as its hub for the Eastern United States.

As a continent-wide enterprise, companies under the RDAbbott brand include R.D. Abbott Co., Inc.; R.D. Abbott de México S. de R.L. de C.V.; RDAbbott Canada, Ltd.; RDA Holdings; and Novation Solutions, LLC (NovationSi). During its tenure, some of the enterprise’s largest investments have been in IT infrastructure, technical services, and a network of strategically located warehouses ready to meet customer needs.

Today, RDAbbott is one of North America’s largest rubber industry distributors. In addition to its distribution services, RDAbbott is devoted to education and the advancement of rubber technologies.

Recent innovations include electrically conductive silicone compounds. RDAbbott also helps customers design more sustainable products and develop more efficient and repeatable processes.

Other collaborative innovations over the years, include patented moving-die technology for extruding tire treads; LSR characterizations for dynamic mold flow analysis; novel lightweight silicone elastomers for aerospace sealing; revolutionary methods for in-mold bonding of LSR to various substrates; architectural sealing advancements, and novel elastomeric sealing compounds for hydrogen fuel cells.

Although RDAbbott has grown and evolved considerably over the last 75 years, there are a few attributes the company hopes will never change. Such as, maintaining the best team in the rubber industry; providing a diverse portfolio of premium elastomer products; providing exceptional technical, engineering, and customer support; helping to develop the next generation of rubber professionals; and giving back to the rubber community at large.

Because RDAbbott tremendously values community, the company is planning to celebrate its milestone anniversary with 75 Acts of Kindness. Examples will include supporting local non-profit organizations, helping with community needs, and providing technical resources and training to nearby schools and educational institutions. For years, RDAbbott has hosted blood drives, helped victims of natural disasters, and donated countless hours to local industry groups.

“For all of the changes we’ve made over 75 years,” says RDAbbott’s current CEO Keith Thomas, “what stands out the most is what remains the same.”

“As we look to the future,” continued Thomas, “our hope is to keep propelling our businesses forward and equipping the next generation of leaders. While our services, product lines, and territories will certainly evolve, our commitment to people will remain constant!”