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Rogan in the 1920s

1929

Nicholas and Julian quickly followed their brother, Ed Rogan Sr., from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to Chicago, Illinois, when he immigrated on April 20, 1929 — all being versed in the trade of carpentry.

Leo Baekeland, an industrial chemist, helped found the modern plastics industry through his invention of Bakelite, the first thermosetting plastic (a plastic that does not soften when heated). Baekeland began his search in 1905 for a synthetic substitute for shellac, which led to the discovery of Bakelite, a condensation product of formaldehyde and phenol that is produced at high temperature and pressure. Baekeland was the first to find a method of forming it into the thermosetting plastic.

In the 1920s, Bakelite was used in knobs, dials, circuitry panels, and even cabinets for radios. It was also employed in the electrical systems of automobiles. In the 1930s, along with many other competing phenolic resins, cast Bakelite was a big trend in colorful costume jewelry and novelties.

The Great Depression began after the stock market crash of October 1929.

Rogan in the 1930s

1934

Ed Sr., Nick, and Jim founded the Rogan Brother’s Company — during The Great Depression — out of need. Calligraphy was the initial service offered by the Rogan Brothers throughout the Chicago area.

The Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup.

1935 – 1936

The Rogan Brother’s Company purchased a Kwikprint marking machine. The Kwikprint allowed the Rogan Brothers to add gold stamping to fabrics, wood, cardboard, book covers, and leather, adding a new manufacturing capability to their growing list of expertise.

1937

The Rogan Brothers began experimenting with molded plastic rejects given to them by the Bachner Family of Chicago Molded Products. The brothers felt that plastics could be marked more efficiently and were given a couple of steel dies from F & S Engraving.

Folklore tells that Jerry Wilman, an independent sales rep for Hart Thermostat Company and a WWI veteran, believed in the “boys.” Celebrating when you got paid was a tradition of many manufacturing shops during this period, so Jerry bet Nick Rogan a fifth of whiskey that he couldn’t invent a process to mark plastics.

According to the Rogan family mythology, Nick Rogan then devised a process called the “branding” of plastics, subsequently known as hot stamping. Soon after, branding became the preferred method for marking plastics — replacing both engraving and the “paint and wipe” method. Sunbeam and Albert Lea Stove Company became the first two customers of the Rogan Brothers.

Rogan becomes a charter member of the Society of Plastics Industries, Inc.

1938

The Rogan Brother’s Company opened its first checking account at the Merchandise Bank of Chicago and moved to 2001 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Nick Rogan also opened up a branch in Brooklyn, New York.

1939

The Rogan Brothers became the United States Department of War’s (now the Department of Defense) only approved hot stamp marking contractor of plastics.

Rogan in the 1940s

1940

Nick Rogan closes the Brooklyn, New York branch. At the same time, the Rogan Brothers became a military contractor by supplying hot-stamped markings, largely used by the U.S. Navy.

The Chicago Bears win the NFL Championship game against Washington, 73-0, the most one-sided victory in NFL history.

1941

The Rogan Brothers Company expands from the three brothers to a total of 24 employees so that they could fulfill military contracts after Pearl Harbor was attacked. They utilized three-eight hour shifts, seven days a week, to keep up with demand.

The Chicago Bears return to the NFL Championship game and beat the New York Giants, 37-9. The Bears become the first team to win consecutive titles (NFL championship game era).

1942

J.J. Rogan becomes a charter member of the Society of Plastics Engineers. The Rogan Brothers’ Company moves to their third location on Wacker Drive on the Chicago River.

1943

Edward Rogan II was born and was immediately put to work drooling on diploma seals.

The Bears return to the NFL championship and defeat Washington for their third championship in four seasons.

1945 

Japan surrenders to the United States, ending World War II. The US Department of War sent out telegrams canceling all military contracts. The first post-World War II recession occurred. Left with only one commercial account, the Rogan Brothers Company was forced to reorganize and revert back to just the three brothers.

Orders for the thumbwheel on the Sunbeam “Ironmaster” electric iron were the lifesaver for the Rogan Brothers Company. These “modern” irons were sold in the post war era by the millions, allowing the Rogan Brothers Company to endure its first recession in company history.

The Cubs reach the World Series, but fall to the Detroit Tigers, after the Curse of the Billy Goat curse begins during game 4.

1946 

With no knowledge in plastic molding, the Rogan Brothers purchased 3 war surplus Stokes/Hull compression molding machines. Ralph Brotz, co-founder of Plenco and members of the Brotz family tirelessly taught the Rogan Brothers to become custom molders of phenolic plastics.

The additional capability allowed the Rogan Brothers an additional service, the moldings. as well as the marking of plastics. Sunbeam, Robertshaw Controls, Hart Manufacturing, Westinghouse, Amphenol, General Electric X-Ray and Hospital, Hamilton Beach, Dremel, Toastmaster and Emerson Electric were some of the Initial customers of these new molding capabilities.

Andrew Rogan joins the Rogan Brothers Company after serving in the Canadian Army during WWII.

Rogan Brothers Company creates its first advertising campaign, “Make plans now…for the coming plastic era consult Rogan,” that ran until 1950.

The Chicago Bears win another NFC championship against the Philadelphia Eagles.

1948-49 

The Rogan Brothers survive the 2nd post-WWII recession.

Andrew Rogan leaves the Rogan Brothers Company to start up Rogan Scale Corporation of Bettendorf, Iowa. John Kruk becomes 1st full-time toolmaker and machinery maintenance man, later to become our beloved plant manager. The decision was made to go into the  appliance industry as a supplier of heat-resistant stove and commercial kitchen knobs, dials and handles.

1949 

A 2,500 sq. ft. facility on Irving Park Road near Wrigley Field is now occupied by The Rogan Brothers Company.

Now a 6-year-old, Edward Rogan II, was challenged to manually insert 5,000 screws in a 6-hour shift. If he was successful, he was rewarded with a ticket to the Cubs game. While this would violate plenty of child labor laws today, at the time it was a fair deal for all.

Nick Rogan left the Rogan Brothers partnership to set up Synthetic Products, a custom compression molding company, in Racine, Wisconsin.

Rogan in the 1950s

1952

Appliance and connector industries sales grew, and so did the Rogan Brothers! The Rogan Brothers build their first-ever 6,000 square foot stand-alone factory in Skokie, Illinois. With the move, Ed Rogan II, lost his Cub game ticket incentive.

Due to the growth of the company Jack Ehrlich becomes an outside accountant/CPA and trusted confidant to both Rogan families.

1953

The Rogan Brothers join the Society of Plastics Industry.

1955

While the appliance industry adapted to a new design-oriented culture, the Rogan Brothers had become the proprietary plastic knob molder. RB-11 knob and RB-1000 dial were the first proprietary designs for the Rogan Brothers. J.J. Rogan hires designer Brooks Stevens to design appliance knobs.

1957

In fear of inflation, the Rogan Brothers endure another recession, an 11-month business contraction resulting in clamping down on spending.

1958

Having found Bob Podall, a freshly graduated University of Illinois-Urban Mechanical Engineer, significant, new knob designs were brought to the marketplace. The Rogan Brothers had Bob design the RB-700 Series. by Joe Roshman of Northern Engraving Company, located in Sparta, Wisconsin, co-engineered the new design. The RB-700 Series was the first in the US to feature spun and anodized aluminum caps and dials. This series was compression molded and specifically designed for the appliance industry. As injection molding became the appliance industry’s plastic process of choice due to faster cycles and lower costs, the Corning Glass Corporation’s countertop stove became the only appliance customer of The Rogan Brothers Company.

The RB-700 Series could also be found on guitars. Fred Hall of Rickenbacker Guitars placed RB-700 Series knobs on John Lennon’s Rickenbacker 325 guitar.

1959

The 1959 Chicago White Sox won the American League Championship, their first pennant since 1919, but fell in the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This was the White Sox last pennant until the championship season of 2005.

Rogan in the 1960s

The most oppressive recession yet, the Rogan Brothers Company survives.

1960

The Rogan Brothers Company survives its 5th recession, with no backlog and forcing 3-day work weeks — this is the most severe recession in company history until 2008.

John F. Kennedy is elected as the United States President.

1961

President Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to fly in space. The Freedom Riders took buses into the South to challenge segregation and East Germany began construction on the Berlin Wall.

The Chicago Blackhawks made its first Finals appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Detroit Redwings since 1944, winning the best of seven series, four games to two, to win their third Stanley Cup.

1962

The space race was heating up and the Cold War was freezing over. Soviet missile bases were discovered in Cuba, triggering a crisis that brought the U.S. to the brink of war with the U.S.S.R. and John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

The modern electronics industry was created, and The Rogan Brothers were on board as industrial design consciousness replaced all-black “Flash Gordon” knobs with the RB-700 Series.

1963

The Chicago Bears were in their first championship game since a loss to the Giants in 1956 at Yankee Stadium.

This was the fifth and final NFL championship game at Wrigley Field, which hosted the first in 1933, as well as 1937, 1941, and 1943. The Bears won four, with the only loss in 1937.

1966

Edward Rogan II joined the Rogan Brothers. The Rogan Brothers expand their factory to 18,000 square feet.

1967

The Rogan Brothers Company incorporates to become Rogan Corporation and purchases its first two injection molding machines. The “67 Series,” was a new series of instrument knobs designed by J.J. Rogan, John Von Holdt (founder of Plas-Tool), Joe Klinger (co-founder of Janler Tool), and Bob Podall.

The “67 Series” integrated injection molding, rotating mold base tables and interchangeable DME (Detroit Mold Engineering) mold components, becoming the most profitable insert molded control knob series in world history, with volume continuing to grow until the 1990s.

1968

Rogan Corporation received information from the FBI/Defense Department that the RB-700 knobs survived the 1967 Six-Day Israeli-Arab War — in a Russian tank. As a result, the US government requested customer lists from the Rogan Corporation for investigation on how Russians obtained top-secret US tank technology.

1969

The lunar module touched down on the moon at Tranquility Base on July 20, 1969, at 4:17 p.m. EDT. Neil Armstrong reported, “The Eagle has landed.” At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface, becoming the first person to walk on the moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” declared Armstrong. Aldrin then followed Armstrong, and the two men conducted a variety of tasks and experiments.

Rogan Corporation received a commendation of their contribution by the US Government for having “supplied a component that was on the moon’s surface.” (Note: it is believed that at least one of our knobs was on the instrument(s) that collected and/or analyzed moon rocks.)

Rogan in the 1970s

1970

Rogan Corporation survives its 6th recession.

1972

Northbrook, Illinois, becomes the new home of Rogan Corporation, having built and occupying a new 42,000 square foot facility. Rogan Corporation implements a profit-sharing plan.

1973

OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) proclaimed an oil embargo, creating an oil crisis and rationing at gasoline stations across the country. The result was long lines and thievery of gas not only from pumps but from individuals’ cars as well.

The oil crisis created a plastic raw material shortage. Resins began being delivered to Rogan Corporation in packaging marked “for export only.” All molders faced a new threat of resin shortages — despite this, the largest users of plastics were the first to receive their resin material orders. Rogan Corporation was at the bottom of the list.

1974

Rogan Corporation endures and makes it out of its 7th recession from 1974 to 1975.

1976

Developing proprietary threaded hand fasteners, Rogan Corporation enters into a new market. Rogan Corporation’s first fastener line, the Delta Series, receives design awards, becoming a huge success. This led to the introduction of additional series in the product line.

1978

J.J. Rogan and Ed Rogan Sr. sell Rogan corporation to Edward Rogan II.

1979

Rogan Corporation adds multi-material/two-shot, Van Dorn injection molding machines (later known as DEMAG), which led the way to two materials in one molding operation, also known as two-shot molding. David Schoessow joins the Rogan Corporation as Assistant Plant Manager and Jim Ritzema as the mold-maker’s apprentice.

Rogan in the 1980s

1980

A 22-month double-dip recession pushes out inflation and Rogan Corporation — once again — withstands its eighth recession. Rogan Corporation, and Len Hones and Dick Spurgeon, of K.W. Tunnel Consultants, start a long-term strategic planning relationship, creating the ‘Last Man Standing’ five-year marketing plan.

1982-1984

The Pure Touch Series of control knobs are introduced, featuring Kraton, a material that processes like plastic but behaves like rubber. Rogan Corporation is a pioneer at automatic two-material (2-shot) molding, and in 1984, Rogan Corporation acquires Sutphen Corporation, a decorative metal trim manufacturer.

With the third overall selection in the 1984 draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan.

1985

Using Italian technology and PRESMA molding equipment, Rogan Corporation molded a co-injection ball knob series. The co-injection molding process produces a plastic part with a skin and core laminated structure.

The skin material is first injected into the mold, followed by the core material, and finally, the machine injects skin material again to encapsulate the core. This method is utilized in the manufacturing of high heels on women’s shoes.

The Chicago Bears defeat the New England Patriots, 46-10 at the Louisiana Superdome, and win their one and only Super Bowl.

1986

The company realized that the heat generated by its two compressors could be recycled, allowing Rogan Corporation to drastically reduce its natural gas usage need to heat the plant.

1988

Quality becomes an issue as false and fictitious claims against Rogan Corporation emerge. Rogan Corporation powers through these claims and comes out victorious as ALL court actions were overturned, confirming that Rogan Corporation manufactures with the utmost quality.

1989

Rogan Corporation creates mechanical and material specifications for its plastic knob fastener product lines to ensure quality standards. The plastic knob fastener industry’s suppliers and customers are quick to adopt these specific actions.

Rogan in the 1990s

1990

As 92 months of US economic growth came to an end, Rogan Corporation survived its 9th recession.

1991

Co-founder, Ed Rogan Sr. (1907 – 1991), passes away.

Once again, embracing new molding technology, Rogan Corporation became a trailblazer in gas-assist molding.

The Chicago Bulls win their first NBA Championship.

1992

Rogan Corporation creates the ‘Design Standards Company’ and becomes a distributor of Hand Hardware.

Inc. Magazine names Rogan Corporation as an Employer of the Year.

The Chicago Bulls win their second NBA Championship.

1993

Co-founder and driving force of Rogan Brothers, J.J. Rogan (1911 – 1993), passes away.

The recession that started at the end of 1992 was brief. Rogan is again able to endure and push forward.

Rogan Corporation grants Nabeya Kogyo Co., (NBK) Ltd. Of Seki City, Gifu Japan, sole distribution rights in Japan.

The August 1993 edition of Inc. Magazine features how Rogan Corporation implemented a gain-sharing program successfully in an article called “The Productivity-Boosting Gain-Sharing Report.”

Rogan Corporation produces its first gas-assist product named ‘My Cubby’, which is sold through big-box department stores such as Wal-Mart. Cinpres technology and Van Dorn (later to be DEMAG) were utilized.

Rogan Corporation continues green initiatives as a company by creating a native Illinois prairie on the back two acres of the Northbrook facility in cooperation with the Northbrook Garden Club.

The Chicago Bulls win their third straight — and third overall — NBA Championship.

1994

Rogan Corporation was one of the first of four companies featured in The Chicago Tribune Co. series entitled, “The New Breed of Leaders Driving a Business Revolution.”

Rogan Corporation completes its five-year strategic ‘Last Man Standing’ plan after 13 years.

1995

The J.J. Rogan Scholarship Fund is established for the University of Illinois at Urbana, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin.

In the 95-96 NBA season, after defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Finals, the Chicago Bulls win their fourth NBA Championship.

1997

The 500,000,000 part in Rogan Corporation’s history was shipped. Rogan Corporation experienced its greatest profitability with a 20+% pre-tax profit.

Four “high cubes” (vertical storage) were installed making approximately 1,500 square feet of the plant floor available for other uses.

The ‘Creative Challenge for Design Engineers’ National Contest with Machine Design Magazine is co-sponsored by Rogan Corporation. This contest required contestants to submit bridges built from the same 627-piece K’NEX kit — the winning bridge supported 55 pounds.

The Chicago Bulls win their fifth NBA Championship.

1998

Kipp, the German manufacturer and distributor of hand hardware, added the Rogan line to their product supply line, which included the CAD drawings. To this day, Kipp is one of the most treasured and loyal partners of the Rogan Corporation.

The Bulls complete their second three-peat, with a series win over the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals, their sixth championship.

1999

Rogan Corporation is named the winner of the Manufacturing Counts Award by The Chicago Manufacturing Center and Illinois Institute of Technology.

The state of Illinois awards Rogan Corporation a grant, allowing the company to implement a state-of-the-art automatic plastics recycling system.

Rogan in the 2000s

2001

After a decade of economic growth, the US economy came to a halt. On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked, hijacking two planes and crashing them into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. A third airliner crashed into the Pentagon. There was a fourth plane, initially being flown toward Washington, D.C., but passengers stopped the hijackers, crashing the plane into a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania. The aftermath of these attacks left the country mentally and emotionally shattered.

Rogan Corporation endured its 11th recession.

2003

Rogan mirrored an economy in anguish following the 9/11 tragedy. The United States faced difficult times, and the manufacturing industry was badly affected.

2006

The technology of Liquid Injection Silicone Molding, or LIMS, is embraced as our future and Rogan Corporation enters into the field of medical plastics.

Rogan Corporation’s liquid silicone can be molded to stainless steel and polycarbonate samples. These moldings were included in ‘Inventables’, a firm that seeks out obscure, innovative technologies, textiles, and gizmo’s (see Forbes June 2006) quarterly client mailings.

Rogan’s quality system becomes registered to ISO 9001:2000.

2007

Rogan Medical Components is integrated into the Rogan Corporation at the Northbrook facility. Rogan Corporation adds the medical ISO class cleanroom to the Northbrook, IL facility from the Rogan Medical facility in Lake Bluff, IL.

Ed Rogan Sr. would have been 100 years old, and Rogan Corporation celebrated the 73rd Annual Founders Day in celebration.

2008-2010

Rogan’s quality system registration is upgraded to ISO 9001:2008.

Taichi Okamoto (1941 – 2009) of NBK Co. Ltd., Japan, passed away at the age of sixty-eight.

Due to the 2008 Recession — the 12th that Rogan Corporation endured — the 75th Anniversary party was canceled.

In 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup against the Philadelphia Flyers – the first championship for Chicago since 1961.

Rogan in the 2010s

2011

J.J. Rogan, co-founder of Rogan Corporation would have been 100 years old!

Rogan Corporation celebrated the 77th Annual Founders Day.

2012 

Adding a new 1,500 square foot Class 100,000 clean room, Rogan Corporation is able to serve the demands of the medical and dental device industries more effectively.

Rogan Corporation invested in new machinery and auxiliary equipment, including four new horizontal and vertical Liquid Silicone Rubber injection-molding presses, a two-color pad printing machine, and Servo robots from 2010 to 2012, which exceeded $1.5 million.

Rogan’s quality system becomes registered to ISO 13485:2003 as a manufacturer of medical components.

2013

An unusual heatwave in February, followed by a severe freeze in March, caused a significant flood. The entire office was under a few feet of water, and parts of the plant had a couple of inches. However, Rogan Corporation continued to function, not allowing a single shipment to be missed nor any wages to be lost.

Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry featured an article about the LSR capabilities of Rogan Corporation and its future in the medical world. The article was co-written by Eric Bishop and Jim Ritzema, Rogan Corporations’ Director of Operations.

In June, the Chicago Blackhawks won their fifth Stanley Cup against the Boston Bruins, 4-2.

2014

Rogan is featured in the Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry again, with an article focusing on the importance of communication and cooperation between molder, mold builder, and molding press manufacturer to help ensure optimal Liquid Silicone Rubber molding results.

Demonstrating its continued commitment to advancing molding capabilities and investing in new technology, Rogan Corporation further expands its broad molding capacity with the purchase of two state-of-the-art Wittman Battenfeld two-shot injection molding presses and two Sodick thermoplastic horizontal injection molding presses (100-ton and 60-ton).

2015

To meet the growing demand for its high-quality medical device marking capability, Rogan Corporation again invests in a two-color pad printer and purchased a high-speed Makino CNC vertical machining center for its toolroom. These investments enabled Rogan Corporation the ability to perform tool-building functions completely in-house.

Additionally, Rogan Corporation adds another new Wittman Battenfeld 400-ton two-shot horizontal injection molding press and Sodic 60-ton liquid silicone rubber horizontal injection molding press to increase operations.

Chicago Blackhawks crowned Stanley Cup champions, affirming their dynasty, their third cup in six years.

2016

Plastics Technology featured Rogan Corporation in an article emphasizing its relationship with their client, Constructive Eating, and how their many years of expertise in two-shot molding assisted in making reshoring cost-effective.

On Manufacturing Day (occurs every year on the first Friday in October), Rogan Corporation hosted students from a local high school, providing tours of Rogan Corporation’s state-of-the-art facility and injection molding processes while introducing manufacturing as a great career opportunity.

A new Wittmann Battenfeld 40-ton thermoplastic vertical injection molding press is added to the arsenal of in-house injection molding machines.

Believe it! Chicago Cubs end the curse and win the 2016 World Series!

2017

President of Rogan Corporation, Jim Ritzema, is interviewed for the inaugural issue of LSR World Magazine sharing his experience and expertise as a member of their advisory board.

To better mirror its current manufacturing capabilities, Rogan Corporation launched a new branding initiative, emphasizing its commitment to innovation and its collaborative approach to working with customers.

Rogan Corporation does business as Rogan Molding Technologies as part of this initiative.

A new series of plastic molded pull handles are introduced by Rogan Corporation. Molded with glass-filled (GF) polypropylene (PP) and over-molded with a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) to guarantee a long life and optimum functionality, Rogan Corporation offered the pull handles in small, medium, and large sizes as well as in a wide range of colors.

Continuing Rogan Corporation’s investment in the company, a new Arburg 28-ton liquid silicone rubber vertical injection molding machine is purchased.

2018

The addition of a new Sodick TR Series 450-ton liquid silicone rubber ultra-precision injection molding machine brings Rogan Corporation’s total capital investment in machinery for the 2014-2018 period to $1.7 million.

President of Rogan Corporation, Jim Ritzema, teamed up with Feifei Lin, Business Development Manager for Elkem Silicones, to co-author “Current LSR Material Trends in the Molding of Medical Devices.” The article was published in Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry and addressed the advancement of LSR use for molders, formulators, and specifically designers and device engineers and where LSR is headed for the upcoming years.

2019-2020

After first being discovered in late 2019, the COVID-19 virus quickly disrupted the country shutting many things down. Many manufacturers including Rogan Corporation were deemed essential and were required to stay open after the Defense Production Act was enacted by the president. Despite the challenges, Rogan Corporation continued to produce parts and joined in the all-out effort of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by producing 500,000 parts to be used in the production of medical ventilators and respirators.

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