Teknor Apex Company traces its origins to Apex Tire Company, which was started in Providence, Rhode Island in 1924. Alfred A. Fain, a retired wholesale grocery executive and his son-in-law, Albert Pilavin, grew this tire sales and recapping business until it had expanded to include 16 retail tire stores along the East Coast.
Alfred's son, Norman M. Fain, joined Apex Tire Company in 1936 upon graduation from the University of Rhode Island after having worked after school and during summers at the Providence store. The Hurricane of 1938 devastated much of Rhode Island, including Apex Tire Company. The Company was quickly moved to a mill building on Central Avenue in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the site of its corporate headquarters today.
The transition continued from tire recapping to the mixing and supplying of rubber compounds for industrial uses in New England, including wire insulation, shoe soles and other molded rubber products.
In 1946 Victor M. Baxt, a chemist and friend of Norman Fain's from the University of Rhode Island, joined the Company to head the newly acquired Thompson Chemical Company, also located in the Central Avenue mill complex. Thompson Chemical mixed automotive chemicals with one of their products being antifreeze blends for Sears Roebuck.
In 1949 the Company began producing vinyl compounds as a result of a shift from rubber to vinyl materials by the wire and cable industry. The Company gradually began manufacturing vinyl resin and plasticizers as the vinyl compounding part of the business grew.
Vinyl garden hose production was begun in the Pawtucket, RI plant in the late 50s as an outgrowth of the company's vinyl production. The Lawn and Garden business at Teknor Apex has also grown over the years and Teknor Apex is now the largest manufacturer of garden hose in the United States. At one time, the Company even manufactured hula-hoops, a process similar to extruding garden hose!
As the Company grew into a national organization, plants were built in Hebronville, MA (1956) and Aberdeen, MS (1959). The Massachusetts plant produced chemicals and PVC resin. A separate building in Hebronville was used to produce phthalic anhydride. The Mississippi plant produced PVC compounds, plasticizer and PVC resin and began garden hose production in 1961.
Herbert Malin joined the company in 1956 from Dow Chemical as a chemical engineer and, with Norman Fain and Victor Baxt, became a member of the core team that successfully built Teknor Apex into what it is today.
In 1959 Teknor Apex began selling colorants for plastics to customers buying its vinyl compounds. The first separate color plant was in the Hebronville complex. In 1981 this operation became Teknor Color Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Teknor Apex Company.
In 1964 Thompson Chemical and Apex Tire and Rubber Companies were sold to Continental Oil Company. The companies were renamed Thompson Apex, a subsidiary of Continental Oil. The employees stayed in their jobs and Norman Fain, Victor Baxt and Herbert Malin remained to run the new company. During this time, PVC resin plants were built in Assonet, MA and in England. Continental Oil developed the TA diamond logo, which originally stood for Thompson Apex.
As a result of Continental Oil's further acquisitions, in 1967 the U.S. government charged the company with restraint of trade and insisted that they divest themselves of some of its purchases.
Norman Fain bought the Pawtucket and Hebronville plants back from Continental and the present day Teknor Apex Company came into existence in September of 1968. The name, with its initials T and A, was chosen so Norman Fain's new company could continue to use the TA diamond logo developed by Continental.
Since 1938, when the hurricane drove Apex Tire out of Providence, a retail tire outlet and a production facility had co-existed in the same complex on Central Avenue in Pawtucket. The tire store had expanded to include appliances and other goods. Because the manufacturing business was steadily demanding more space, the first freestanding full line Apex Department Store was built in Warwick, RI in 1966. Stores in downtown Pawtucket, RI and Swansea, MA followed. The Warwick and Pawtucket stores also had adjoining retail tire stores, continuing the company's original product lines.
When the Pawtucket retail store was moved out of the Central Avenue location, the space was redesigned as the new corporate offices of Teknor Apex Company. The architect, Warren Platner, was famous for designing the Windows on the World restaurant on the top of the World Trade Center. The Teknor Apex project took about two years and the resulting offices were so striking and contemporary that Mr. Platner included them in a book he later wrote called simply "Ten" about his ten favorite design projects.
Rapid expansion marked the 70s with the construction of a plant in Brownsville, Tennessee (Haywood Company) in 1971 and the acquisition of a business in City of Industry, California (Maclin Company) in 1977. In 1987 Teknor Apex acquired plants in Henderson, Kentucky and Jacksonville, Texas. Teknor Apex was now truly a national Company.
Teknor Apex Company has continued its growth with acquisitions and the construction of plants in Fountain Inn, South Carolina (Carolina Company) in 1992, St. Albans, Vermont in 1998 and a second plant in Henderson, Kentucky in 2001.
Teknor Apex became a global company with the acquisition in 2001 of Singapore Polymer Corporation and the building of a new plant in Suzhou, China in 2007.
In December of 2008, Teknor Apex announced a new Bioplastics Division initially marketing compounds based on thermoplastic starch. Teknor Apex will build a family of products diverse enough to enable customers to produce products derived from renewable resources that compare well with conventional petrochemical-based plastics.
Jonathan D. Fain, Norman Fain's son, joined the Company in 1972 and is now president and CEO. Norman Fain died on November 1, 2003 in his 89th year; he came into the office every day until about six weeks before his death.
Today Teknor Apex Company is an international custom compounder of advanced polymer materials with a focus on vinyls, thermoplastic elastomers, engineered thermoplastics, bioplastics and colorants. For the U.S. market, Teknor Apex still manufactures chemicals such as plasticizers and consumer products including garden hose. It remains privately held and headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
As from the beginning, in all of its businesses, Teknor Apex still prides itself on its commitment to technical innovation, quality products and custom service.