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Rogers Corporation

Rogers Corporation

1 Technology Drive
Rogers, Connecticut 06263-0188
U.S.A.
Telephone: (860) 774-9605
Fax: (860) 779-5509
Web site: http://www.rogerscorporation.com

Public Company
Founded:
1832 as Rogers Paper Manufacturing Company
Employees: 1,975
Sales: $356.1 million (2005)
Stock Exchanges: New York
Ticker Symbol: ROG
NAIC: 524211 Plastics Material and Design Manufacturing

Rogers Corporation is a global specialty materials company that maintains its headquarters in the small town of Rogers, Connecticut, which assumed the name in the 1950s after the company agreed to pay the electric bill for the street lights.

Rogers focuses on the portable communications, communication infrastructure, consumer products, computer and office equipment, ground transportation, and aerospace and defense markets, manufacturing and selling high-performance specialty materials in four business segments. The Printed Circuit Materials segment produces flexible materials such as circuit ribbons used to link components in laptops and cell phones, and high-frequency circuit laminates used in antennas for cellular base stations, low noise block down-converters (LNBs) for direct broadcast satellite television receivers, radar systems, and high-performance wireless components. The High Performance Foams segment produces urethane, silicone, and nonwoven materials used in a wide variety of applications in the communications, computer, transportation, printing, and consumer markets. The materials are used to make gaskets in appliances, and a variety of gaskets and seals in automobiles, aircraft, and trains; serve as cushions and seals in cell phones and other handheld devices; act as padding for medical and prosthetic skin contact devices and protective garments; and provide shock absorption and cushioning in footwear and sporting equipment. The Custom Electrical Components segment is composed of the electroluminescent (EL) lamps and inverters used as backlighting for displays, dials, and keypads. Applications include portable devices and automobiles. Also in this segment, busbars are used in locomotive trains to distribute the power generated by the diesel engine to the electric motors that move the train. Rogers's Other Polymer Products segment makes products such as floats used in automobile fuel tanks; rollers used in printers, copiers, and mail processing systems; foam padding used in printing applications; and laminates for shielding of cables and for various automotive and industrial applications.

In the United States Rogers maintains manufacturing plants in Connecticut, Arizona, and Illinois. Foreign manufacturing operations are located in Belgium, China, and Korea. Sales offices are located in Japan, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Korea, and Singapore. Rogers has joint ventures in Japan and China with Inoac Corporation, in Taiwan with Chang Chun Plastics, and in the United States with Mitsui Chemicals. Rogers Corporation is a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

19TH-CENTURY ORIGINS

The founding of Rogers Corporation dates back to 1832 when a Dutch immigrant named Peter Rogers opened a paper mill in Manchester, Connecticut. Named Rogers Paper Manufacturing Company, this company produced paperboard used in the thriving textile industry of New England. When Peter died in 1841, his son, Henry Rogers, took over the business. It was Henry who established a culture of innovation, and was instrumental in the development of a number of advances in papermaking, including the bleaching of colored paper and the recycling of waste paper, the latter an extremely important contribution to the industry. In 1890 Henry Rogers retired and his son, Knight, and daughter, Gertrude, ran the business. Under their stewardship, Rogers Paper became a supplier of transformer insulation board for the emerging electrical power transformer industry at the dawn of the 20th century. This business spurred growth in sales approaching $1 million.

In 1901 the company incorporated in Connecticut, with all stock owned by the Rogers family. In 1927 Rogers Paper was reincorporated in Massachusetts and taken public, the first step in removing direct involvement of the Rogers family after almost a century of control. In 1920, seven years after Knight Rogers died, his sister installed the first nonfamily member to run the business: Charles Ray, a seasoned executive who came from the Troy, New York-based Manning Paper Company. In 1927 Ray bought all of Gertrude's company stock. A year later he took steps to diversify the company, bringing in a technical director, Saul M. Silverstein, who held a chemical engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Silverstein, in turn, recruited M.I.T. classmate Raymond A. St. Laurent to take over sales and develop new markets for the company's paperboard products.

The diversification effort was well timed. It began to bear fruit as the United States suffered the stock crash of 1929, which ushered in the decade-long Great Depression. New products included tympana printing board, rail joints, artificial leather, and motor insulation materials. Not only did Rogers survive the economic downturn of the 1930s, it was able to invest in the research and development of new phenolic resin plastics. It was the addition of these products that brought the company to Goodyear, Connecticut, the village that would one day bear the Rogers name. Originally known as Williamsville, it became Goodyear around the start of the 20th century because Goodyear was its largest employer. In 1936 the company sold its plant for $250,000 to Rogers, which continued to maintain three small manufacturing units in Manchester. The village retained the Goodyear name until 1953 when Rogers's president, Saul Silverstein, was so miffed at seeing Goodyeara competitor in molded rubber productson his company's letterhead that he struck a deal with the village to pay for the 22 streetlights in the center of town if the village name was changed to Rogers. On the basis of a handshake, the change was agreed to and went into effect in 1954.

DEPRESSION-ERA DEVELOPMENTS

In the final years of the 1930s, Rogers transferred production to the former Goodyear plant and consolidated the Manchester operations. Diversification continued in the 1940s, as Rogers now became involved in footwear. Rogers Paper Manufacturing Company no longer seemed an appropriate name, and in 1945 the company became the Rogers Corporation. The company's focus continued to move further away from paper products in the postwar years. In 1949 Rogers added new fiber-reinforced polymer materials for use in electrical insulation and gaskets. Four years later glass and ceramic fiber were incorporated to make chemical-resistant gaskets. Company researchers would continue to combine polymers and chemicals with natural and synthetic, organic and inorganic fibers to create a host of new products. During this period Rogers also added product lines by acquiring Cellular Rubbers Products, Inc., a Willimantic, Connecticut-based elastomer fabrication company, maker of molder circuits in switches and timers for cars, appliances, and industrial uses.

COMPANY PERSPECTIVES

Rogers Corporation is a manufacturer of specialty materials for applications in portable communications, communication infrastructure, consumer products, computer and office equipment, ground transportation, and aerospace and defense.

The 1950s also saw Rogers make its first international move, licensing its phenolic molding materials to Vynckier N.V. in Ghent, Belgium, in 1958. The decade was a watershed period for Rogers in another way as well. The company began to implement long-range planning, identifying new marketsin particular the fast-growing electronics industry. For example, in 1959 Rogers became involved in the mainframe computer market by developing a busbar, a laminated circuit that distributed power in IBM's new transistorized computer. Within a few years Rogers was supplying busbars to almost all mainframe computer manufactures. As part of its planning effort, Rogers established a goal of doubling revenues and profits every five years. Thus sales that totaled $5 million in 1958 doubled to $10 million by 1963. Also of importance, the company had in 1960 gained a listing on the American Stock Exchange, providing a higher profile with investors.

Although Rogers continued to produce transformer insulation board, the company's growth was now linked to new products used in electronics and consumer goods. In the early 1960s Rogers introduced materials used to make breathable footwear, chemical-resistant floats, and high-temperature, synthetic fiber-based materials. In 1966 Rogers acquired technology from Westinghouse Electric Corporation that would not have an immediate commercial impact but would one day be used in the development of flexible circuits that would be needed in increasing numbers in computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. With so much of the electronics industry operating in the western United States, Rogers opened a 40,000-square-foot plant in Chandler, Arizona, in 1967 to house the new Circuit Systems Division. A year later Rogers bought Woodstock, Connecticut-based Litho Chemical & Supply Co., Inc. to establish a new PORON Division to produce the high-density, flexible foam used in footwear as well for medical and other applications. Rogers closed the 1960s by forming its first international company, Mektron N.V., established in May 1969 in Ghent, Belgium, to produce busbars and interconnection products for the European market. Rogers also cast its attention elsewhere in the world, licensing Mektron interconnection products to Nippon Oil Seal Industry Co., Ltd. and establishing Rogers Mexi-cana in Agua Prieta, Mexico.

Rogers's annual sales by the start of the 1970s approached $30 million, about 28 percent of which came from the electronics markets, in particular data processing. Electronics would become even more important over the next dozen years, so that by 1982 it accounted for 72 percent of Rogers's revenues. Growth was so steady that Rogers continually expanded its production capacity. By 1973 the company was operating 14 plants in seven states and three countries. Another plant was bought in Lithonia, Georgia, in 1976, and in 1979 the Manchester facility was expanded as was the Mexico operation. Another plant was acquired in Mesa, Arizona, in 1980, and a new production facility was added in France. In 1982 the Chandler operation was supplemented by a second plant.

KEY DATES

1832:
The company is founded by Peter Rogers as Rogers Paper Manufacturing Company.
1841:
Peter Rogers dies.
1901:
The company is incorporated, with all stock owned by the Rogers family.
1927:
The company is taken public; the Rogers family ends its connection to the company.
1936:
The Goodyear plant in Goodyear, Connecticut is acquired.
1945:
The company name is changed to Rogers Corporation.
1954:
Goodyear, Connecticut, changes its name to Rogers.
1960:
Rogers is listed on the American Stock Exchange.
1968:
Rogers acquires a plant in Woodstock, Connecticut to house production of PORON® urethanes.
1969:
The first European plant opens.
1970:
Rogers opens the Lurie Research and Development Center at its headquarters in Rogers, Connecticut.
1984:
Rogers Inoac Corporation is formed as a 50/50 joint venture with Inoac Corporation.
1992:
Strategic restructuring is initiated.
1996:
Rogers acquires Bisco Products from the Dow Corning Corporation.
2000:
Rogers stock begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
2002:
Rogers opens a manufacturing facility in China with expansions in operations in the ensuing years.
2003:
The High Performance Foams Division of Rogers opens a new facility in Carol Stream, Illinois.
2004:
A total of 65 percent of Rogers's sales are outside the United States.
2005:
More than 6 percent of Rogers's sales are outside the United States.

A key to Rogers's growth was its ongoing commitment to research and development. In the early 1970s the company opened the Lurie Research and Development Center in Rogers, Connecticut, the facility named after a former technical director. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Rogers developed a host of new products, including materials for microwave stripline circuitry, micromotion membrane keyboards, and asbestos-free gasketing materials. The company also expanded through acquisition and joint ventures. In 1980 Rogers acquired Soladyne, Inc., a San Diego maker of microwave stripline circuits. Rogers formed a joint venture with Inoac Corporation in Nagoya, Japan, in 1984 to produce high-performance elastomers for the Asian market. Then, in 1988, Rogers and 3M created Durel Corporation, a joint venture that manufactured electroluminescent backlighting systems.

Rogers experienced a drop in earnings in the late 1980s, prompting the company to search for ways to cut costs. One of the areas it looked at was the $500,000 electric bill for the year. One item stood out: $2,600 to pay for the streetlights in Rogers, Connecticut. No one in management knew of the 1950s' agreement with the village and it was decided to let the taxpayers foot the bill. Neither the village nor the local fire district that included Rogers stepped in to pick up the tab, and so in October 1989, the lights went out. Soon, one arson and at least two burglaries took place, prompting residents to meet in a local church to vent their anger at the company and begin taking steps to change the name of the village back to Williamsville. The effort was spearheaded by Charles A. Spaulding, who had lived in the town for 44 years and worked for the company for 34, and one of the few people still alive who remembered Saul Silver-stein's handshake agreement. The cost of changing letterhead and signage, as well as bad community relations, were not worth the $2,600 in savings, and Rogers Corporation quickly agreed to pay for the streetlights for at least another 14 years. Peace was restored, and maps of Connecticut did not have to be redone.

END-OF-CENTURY CHANGES

In 1992 a new chief executive officer, Harry Birkenruth, initiated a strategic restructuring of Rogers to focus attention on the company's specialty polymer composite materials businesses, which in the past 30 years had emerged as the primary engines of growth. Over the next few years Rogers shed a number of divisions and products. In March 1992 the Circuit Components Division plant in Tempe, Arizona, was sold. A year later Rogers Flexible Interconnections Division and a half-interest in a related joint venture, Smartflex Systems, were sold to Ampersand Ventures. The Power Distribution Division was sold to Method Electronics in 1994. The Soladyne Division was sold at the end of 1995. Rogers also built on its core product lines by acquiring Bisco Products from the Dow Corning Corporation in a deal that closed at the beginning of 1997. The Elk Grove Village, Illinois-based business sold high-performance cellular silicone foam products, which Rogers continued to market under the BISCO brand name. In addition, Rogers gained a presence in the European commercial aerospace market. In that same year, Rogers acquired another Ghent, Belgium company, UCB Induflex N.V., maker of multilayer laminates for shielding of electromagnetic and radio frequency interference. Also in 1997, Birkenruth retired, turning over the reins to Walter E. Boomer, who took over at the end of March. He inherited a company that for the year generated sales of $216.6 million and net income of $16.5 million.

In the final years of the 1990s, Rogers opened a sales office in Taiwan; began construction on a new microwave materials manufacturing facility on an unused piece of property the company owned in Chandler, Arizona; acquired the engineering molding compounds business of Cytec Industries, Inc.; and formed a joint venture with Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. to produce specialty flexible laminates for Hutchinson Technology, Inc., the world's largest maker of hard disk drive suspension assemblies. Rogers closed the 1990s posting sales of $247.8 million and profits of $18.6 million.

Rogers had to contend with a rocky period for the technology sector starting in 2000 and lasting well into 2002 after a downturn in the national economy. After sales reached a record $316.8 million and net income totaled a record $26.7 million in 2000, business began to fall off significantly. Sales dipped to $216 million and net income to $18.6 million in 2001. The company enjoyed marginal improvement in 2002 before experiencing a significant rebound in 2003. Along the way, Rogers divested the Manchester Moldable Composites Division; bought out 3M to take a 100 percent interest in Durel Corporation and make it a division of Rogers; and began to relocate the Elastomer Components Divisions to China to be closer to customers. Of more importance, at the close of 2001 Rogers acquired some product lines from Cellect L.L.C., manufacturer of plastomeric and elastomeric high-performance polyolefin foams. As a result, Rogers became the only company to produce all three specialty foamspolyolefin, polyurethane, and siliconethereby enhancing the company's long-term growth potential.

In the early 2000s Rogers enjoyed especially strong sales of LNBs to the robust satellite TV industry and flexible circuit materials used in cell phones, which as they moved to color displays required eight times as much flexible materials as earlier generation cell phones. In fact, the more tech product sold, the better Rogers performed. Moreover, it had few competitors in the niche markets it pursued and were costly for rivals to enter. Sales soared to $365 million in 2004 before taking a step back to $356.1 million in 2005 when Rogers also recorded net income of $16.4 million. Rogers's continued growth, as it pushed to become a $1 billion company, was likely to be driven by the demand for satellite dishes, cellphones and other handsets, broadband wireless and networking, as well as new high-tech automobile sensors such as tire-pressure sensors and collision-avoidance radar systems.

PRINCIPAL SUBSIDIARIES

Rogers Japan Inc.; Rogers China, Inc.; Rogers Specialties Materials Corporation; Rogers Circuit Materials, Inc.; Rogers N.V.

PRINCIPAL COMPETITORS

Cookson Group plc; Kingboard Chemical Holdings Ltd.; Rohn and Haas Electronic Materials.

FURTHER READING

Benesh, Peter, "If Your Clients Can't Come To You, Well ," Investor's Business Daily, June 18, 2004, p. A05.

Hamilton, Robert, "By Letting There Be Light, a Company Remains a Namesake," New York Times, January 14, 1990, p. A2.

Lubanko, Matthew, "Killingly, Conn.-Based Manufacturer Sees Bright Future in Small Parts," Hartford Courant, January 25, 2004.

Miller, William H., "Textbook Turnaround," Industry Week, April 20, 1992, p. 11.

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Rogers Corporation

Rogers Corporation

1 Technology Drive
Rogers, Connecticut 06263-0188
U.S.A.
Telephone: (860) 774-9605
Fax: (860) 779-5509
Web site: http://www.rogerscorporation.com

Public Company
Founded: 1832 as Rogers Paper Manufacturing Company
Employees: 1,251
Sales: $219.4 million (2002)
Stock Exchanges: New York
Ticker Symbol: ROG
NAIC: 322130 Paperboard Mills; 325211 Plastics Material and Resins Manufacturing; 335129 Other Lighting Equipment Manufacturing; 335932 Noncurrent-Carrying Wiring Devices; 334412 Bare Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing; 334413 Semiconductor and Related Device Manufacturing; 334417 Electronic Connector Manufacturing; 334418 Printed Circuit Assembly Manufacturing

Rogers Corporation was originally founded as a paper mill in 1832 and segued from insulated paperboard into a wide range of high performance materials spanning the marketplace. Rogers Corporation's specialized productsincluding highfrequency and flexible circuit materials, laminates, urethane foams, liquid crystalline polymers, busbars, and electroluminescent lightingare used in the automotive, medical, communications, electrical, military, and retail markets. From footwear to gaskets, high-speed interconnects to shock absorbers, circuit boards to digital displays, Rogers makes it all faster, clearer, and more reliable.

Pushing Paper, 1832 to the 1930s

Dutch immigrant Peter Rogers founded the Rogers Paper Manufacturing Company in 1832. Settled in a former two-story powder mill in Manchester, Connecticut, the firm was moderately successful. In 1841 Peter died and his young son Henry took control of the business. Over the next few years Henry diversified the company through experimentation and imagination. He toyed with thicker paperboard, discovered a process for bleaching colored paper, and by 1852 had invented a way to recycle the vast amounts of wastepaper that accumulated around the mill.

Henry retired in 1890 and his two children, son Knight and daughter Gertrude, began running the thriving family business. Like their father before them, Knight and Gertrude were determined to broaden the company's product and customer base beyond selling paperboard to area textiles manufacturers. In 1900 as the textiles industry suffered a downturn, Rogers began insulating its paperboard for use in the burgeoning field of electricity and electrical power.

Rogers Paper Manufacturing Company was incorporated as a public company in 1927, in the state of Massachusetts. The family-owned and operated company had grown to sales of about $1 million annually, fueled by its insulated transformer paperboard. In the early 1930s, as the nation was in the grip of the Great Depression, Rogers was forced to look into new uses for its paper-based products and find as many markets as possible to sell its goods. In 1932 the company began working with Dr. Leo Baekeland, who researched resins and plastics. To provide space for new research and development (R&D) operations as well as its paperboard products, Rogers bought a manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Connecticut, from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in 1936.

A Major Departure from Paper: 1940s50s

By the 1940s Rogers Paper Manufacturing Company had been transformed: Knight Rogers had died and Gertrude had brought in outside executives and consultants to ensure the company's survival. Paperboard was no longer the firm's primary focus; chemical engineering and the versatile applications of polymeric materials had become the future of Rogers. To reflect this new direction, the company was rechristened the "Rogers Corporation" in 1945.

Rogers introduced its first "Duroid" product line in 1949. The Duroid products were made of fiber-reinforced polymers, had many applications for electrical insulation, and led to the first of many patents and trademarked products. Rogers Corp.'s success prompted an unusual move in 1954, when the city of Goodyear, Connecticut, changed its name to Rogers, Connecticut. The area's residents, many of whom were employed by the Rogers manufacturing plant, approved of the town's name change.

In the later 1950s Rogers poured increasing amounts of funding into R&D, blending both organic and synthetic fibers with a variety of chemicals and polymers to produce insulating devices and circuitry for the electronics and automotive industries. In 1958 sales had grown to $5 million annually and Rogers reached a major milestone with its first international partnership, granting licensing rights for some of its molding materials to Vynckier N.V. of Ghent, Belgium. A second milestoneproducing circuitry in 1959 needed in a new computer built by IBMsoon propelled Rogers into the forefront of the electronics market.

Circuit Boards Take Off: 1960s70s

In 1960 Rogers was listed on the American Stock Exchange and total sales had risen to the $10 million level by 1963. Its innovations in circuit boards made the company popular with computer makers, while its old stalwart, insulation board, remained vital to the electrical power industry. A 35,000-squarefoot addition was built onto the firm's plant in Connecticut in 1963 and three years later, the company bought a new manufacturing facility in Chandler, Arizona. Rogers also bought proprietary technology from Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1966, which turned into a goldmine. Taking sophisticated circuitry formerly used by Westinghouse and tweaking it, Rogers developed flexible circuits and busbars which then distributed voltage to the circuit boards used in the surging computer and telecommunications markets.

In 1968 the company bought another plant in Connecticut and initiated plans for a new R&D laboratory. The following year, 1969, Rogers went international in a big way by establishing Mektron N.V., a subsidiary in Ghent, Belgium; entering a partnership with Japan's Nippon Oil Seal Industry Company, Ltd. to form Nippon Mekton, Ltd. to sell computer circuitry in Asia; south of the border in the United States, Rogers Mexicana was established in Agua Prieta, Mexico.

While Rogers had experienced record sales of $28 million at the end of the previous decade, the explosion of data processing in the 1970s took the company to new heights. Electronics applications accounted for nearly a third of Rogers' sales in 1970, while sales steadily climbed to $30 million by the end of 1971. Two years later, in 1973, sales had leapt to $43 million and Rogers had seven operational manufacturing plants in the United States, as well as those in Mexico, Japan, and Belgium. It was during the middle years of the decade that a high performance urethane material was developed. Eventually named and trademarked as "Poron," this moldable foam material found its way into footwear as absorbent liners and soles for athletic shoes, ski boots, and skates, and later into sports equipment such as ski racing poles and knee and elbow pads. Poron's industrial applications were also in development and uses for the urethane's cushioning and shock absorption abilities quickly found their way into the transportation and printing industries.

By the end of the 1970s it was clear Rogers had found not one but several niche markets. To keep up with demand and the continuing evolution of its products, the manufacturing facilities in Connecticut, Arizona, and Mexico were all expanded, while two new facilities in Arizona and another in Château Gontier, France, were planned for the first years of the next decade.

The Electronics Revolution: 1980s90s

Over two-thirds of Rogers Corp.'s business was from the electronics industry in the early 1980s as computers revolutionized the workplace and then homes. Soladyne Inc., a San Diego-based microwave circuit builder, was acquired in 1980, while a new licensing partner for Nippon Mekton was established in Germany, and a sales office was opened in Japan to service the growing Asian markets. A new joint venture in 1988 with 3M Corporation, the Durel Corporation, took Rogers into electroluminescent lighting for use in the dials and display illumination of watches, clocks, medical equipment, and sporting goods.

While the 1980s had been full of heady expansion and corporate raiding for many, the early 1990s brought sobering reminders of the cyclical nature of business. To concentrate more fully on its best performing operations, Rogers divested itself of three business segments from 1992 to 1994 and its Soladyne subsidiary in 1995. Overall sales at the midpoint of the decade had reached a phenomenal $173 million.

In 1996 Rogers acquired Bisco Products from Dow Corning Corporation and the following year opened another manufacturing plant in Ghent, Belgium. The company's growing line of products, which included flexible and high-frequency circuit boards (for computers, inkjet printers, phones, radar and missile guidance systems, and air traffic control), laminates (for disk drives, video recorders, game stations, cameras, telecom cables, automotive systems, and antennas), Poron urethane foams (shock absorbers for computers, appliances, cars, and trucks, as well as footwear, sports equipment, orthotics, and prosthetic limbs), and electroluminescence (digital display and lighting for keypads, pagers, watches, radios, medical equipment, and automotive dashboards) continued to be used in an ever increasing range of applications.

Company Perspectives:

You may not know our name, but whenever you reach for your cell phone, boot up your laptop, start your car, put on your shoes, open your mail, or even look at the watch on your wrist, we're there.

By 1997 Rogers was spending around $10 million in R&D annually, which led to higher performing products, increased sales, and further expansion. In addition to enlarging its facilities in Arizona, building another plant in Belgium, and opening a sales office in Taiwan, overall sales climbed from 1997's $220.9 million to $245.3 million for 1998. The company's fulltime employee roster had also grown from 993 worldwide to 1,122 in 1998.

The end of the 20th century found Rogers experiencing record sales, hitting nearly $248 million, due in large part to the thriving wireless communications industry. Rogers Corp.'s high-frequency circuit board laminates ruled the telecommunications market, while Durel Corporationthe firm's joint venture with 3Msustained record growth in the wireless boom. Poron, the company's versatile urethane material, debuted several new products for use in the footwear and electronics markets, while another joint venture, with Mitsui Chemicals Inc., was established in 1999 as Polymide Laminate Systems LLC. Rogers finished 1999 with total sales of $285 million, up 11 percent over the previous year's figures, and net income of nearly $19 million.

The New Millennium: 2000s

In the new millennium Rogers left the American Stock Exchange and was granted listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ROG. Sales and profits had been growing steadily for several years and 2000 did not disappoint. Combined sales for the company's disparate segments climbed to an all-time high of $316.8 million with net income hitting $26.7 million for the year. In 2001 Rogers formed a joint venture with Chang Chun Plastics Company, Ltd., based in Taiwan, to produce flexible circuit boards for the booming Taiwanese market, and acquired the intellectual property and foam product lines of Cellect LLC to complement its growing High Performance Foams Division. Most significant during the year was the introduction of Rogers R/flex 3600, its liquid crystalline polymer laminate with a wide range of applications for the consumer and communications industries in disk drives, high speed interconnects, handheld electronics, and inkjet printers.

The events of September 11th and the nationwide recession took their toll on Rogers in late 2001. Stock had gone from a low of $23.90 per share in the second quarter of 2001 to a high of $35.80 in the fourth, but year-end sales fell significantly to $276.2 million from 2000's high of nearly $317 million. Net income was hard hit as well at $15.7 million versus the previous year's almost $27 million. Yet Rogers was no stranger to upheaval, having survived and then thrived in the post-Depression era by doing what it did best: adapting and diversifying. In this vein, 2002 found Rogers paring noncore operations and those which had not performed as expected. The Moldable Composites Division was sold while two new manufacturing plants were opened as part of Rogers Technologies Suzhou Company Ltd. in China. The company's international partnerships continued to pay off, with three of its four joint ventures experiencing record growth (the exception was its Taiwanese upstart, which had not garnered as much of the flexible laminates market as anticipated).

The firm's ups and downs were reflected in its stock prices by topping out at $35.80 (the same as 2001's high in the fourth quarter) in the second quarter, yet falling precipitously in the fourth to a low of $20.65 per share. Combined sales for 2002, however, climbed to $286.7 million while income rose slightly to $18.6 million despite international and domestic economic pressures.

In 2003 Rogers bought the remaining interest of Durel Corporation, its joint venture with 3M. Rogers also prepared for a changing of the guard after Chairman and CEO Walter Boomer, who had been with the firm since 1997, announced his retirement from the daily responsibilities of chief executive effective the spring of 2004. Robert Wachob, who had been with Rogers since 1984 and had been serving as president and COO, succeeded Boomer as CEO in April 2004.

Rogers Corporation in the 21st century was a vastly different company than its predecessor in the 19th century, but its core remained the same: developing and manufacturing innovative, high performance products with an eye to the future. For Rogers, the future included reaching the $1 billion mark in sales before 2010 and to continue to meet the evolving needs of the markets it served.

Key Dates:

1832:
Peter Rogers founds a paper mill in Manchester, Connecticut.
1841:
Henry Rogers takes over his father's business.
1852:
Henry invents a process to recycle waste scraps at the paper mill.
1890:
Henry retires and his son and daughter take over the company.
1900:
The firm begins producing insulated paperboard.
1927:
Rogers Paper Manufacturing Company goes public with sales of about $1 million annually.
1932:
The firm begins experimenting with resins.
1945:
The company is rechristened Rogers Corporation.
1949:
"Duroid" fiber-reinforced polymer products are introduced.
1958:
The firm initiates its first international joint venture with Vynckier N.V. of Ghent, Belgium.
1967:
Mektron N.V., a new subsidiary, is established in Belgium.
1980:
The firm opens a manufacturing plant in France.
1981:
Rogers products are licensed to a new partner in West Germany.
1984:
A sales office is opened in Japan.
1988:
Rogers and 3M form a joint venture called Durel Corporation.
1998:
A sales office in Taiwan is opened.
2000:
Rogers is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has a phenomenal year.
2002:
Rogers Technologies Suzhou Company Ltd. is established in China.
2003:
The firm buys the remaining interest of its joint venture with 3M Company.

Principal Subsidiaries

Polymide Laminate Systems LLC; Rogers Chang Chun Technology Co., Ltd.; Rogers China, Inc; Rogers Inoac Corporation; Rogers Japan, Inc.; Rogers Korea, Inc; Rogers Southeast Asia, Inc.; Rogers Taiwan, Inc.; Rogers Technologies Co., Ltd.; Rogers Technologies Singapore, Inc.

Principal Operating Units

High Performance Foams; Printed Circuit Materials; Polymer Materials and Components.

Principal Competitors

Cookson Group PLC; E.I. DuPont; Park Electrochemical Corporation.

Further Reading

Arndt, Michael, "From Desert Storm to Gasket Foam," Business Week Online, April 11, 2003.

Lustigmann, Alyssa, "Poron Helps Cushion Impact of Sports," Sporting Goods Business, February 1994, p. 30.

Miller, William H., "Textbook Turnaround," Industry Week, April 20, 1992, p. 11.

"Rogers Corp. Celebrates Opening of Office in Korea, Singapore," AsiaPulse News, November 10, 2000.

"Taiwan Joint Venture: Rogers, Chan Chung," Electronic Materials Update, August 2000.

"Take a Closer Look at R/bak Cushion Mounting Products," Paper, Film & Foil Converter, October 1999, p. 138.

Thames, Cindy, "Materials Technology Keeps Rogers in Step," Electronic Business, January 15, 1985, p. 118.

Yannity, Kathleen, "Rogers, Conn., Electronics Company Moves Toward $1 Billion in Sales," Providence Journal, May 26, 2002.

Nelson Rhodes

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