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Celebrating 75 Years of Vernay Labs

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Atlanta-based Vernay Laboratories Inc. in 2021 is celebrating its founding three-quarters of a century ago. This is a brief look at the remarkable journey of what is now the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of critical flow-control components for medical, automotive and more.

Back in the 1930s, a young entrepreneur named Sergius Vernet applied his curiosity and ingenuity to invent a wax-filled thermostat to control the temperature in internal combustion engines. Leveraging creativity and material science, he developed the Vernatherm, while working in the basement of Antioch College’s science building in the southwestern Ohio village of Yellow Springs.

That led the Brooklyn, N.Y.-born son of French and Russian emigrants in 1946, to start a company called Vernay Laboratories Inc. (adopting a phonetic spelling to make it easier for people to pronounce).

In addition to cars, the Vernatherm found use in military airplanes and tanks. It proved to be so successful during World War II that in 1944 the U.S. Army awarded the company’s plant the coveted Army-Navy “E” Award for excellence in war production, making Vernay one of the smallest companies awarded the honor.

When Vernay’s customers struggled to find anyone who could meet the requirements to supply the critical rubber components needed for the thermostat, Sergius Vernet bought rubber production equipment and began molding the parts himself.

The 21st century Vernay

Today, Vernay Labs is an 800-plus-employee, global company whose precision molded elastomeric products play a vital role in millions of medical devices, automobiles, and consumer products. The privately held firm operates five plants around the world –– in the U.S., the Netherlands, Italy and China –– and manufactures more than 1 billion components per year, drawing from its extensive library of custom formulated elastomeric materials and compounds.

In the mid-20th century, Vernet stood out for his commitment to diversity, equality and social justice. He hired numerous African Americans, women and Japanese Americans to fill key roles in his young company. In this sense, his DNA remains deeply embedded in that of Vernay Laboratories. He and his wife, Suzanne, also created the philanthropic Vernay Foundation that helped to fund and create many of the civic institutions still apparent in Yellow Springs.

These traits and principles are among the things that current Vernay management celebrates today as the firm recognizes its 75th anniversary. At the time of his death in 1968, the 69-year-old Vernet held more than 100 patents for his inventions. And he had laid a solid foundation for the continued success of Vernay Laboratories.

Over its history, Vernay itself has earned 81 patents on product geometries and processes. Bob Ferguson, Vernay’s vice president of global research and development, and a 16-year company veteran, notes that “innovations are developed daily” at the firm.

In the past dozen years, Vernay has hired several key executives with significant global experience, increased its automation, adopted Industry 4.0 protocols, and developed a unified approach to developing and launching products, all while continuing to custom formulate its own material compounds.

What sets Vernay apart

Ed Urquhart, who was named CEO in 2009, states: “There’s probably nobody on the planet who has better material expertise than we do. We develop our own custom recipes to meet the need at hand.”

The company also excels at co-development with customers. “We get involved in the concept generation,” he says, “and in developing the way in which fluids and gases flow within their application. We provide them with expert advice, and with design and development support.”

Today, Vernay is firmly focused on applying its flow-control knowledge to the fast-moving medical devices sector, and is busy adding clean-room space in both the U.S. and Italy. The company was deemed an “essential supplier” by the U.S. and Italian governments during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it provides critical components for ventilators and respirators.

For all the advances in technology and the world, the core of Vernay remains largely unchanged after 75 years. “Moral character and moral behavior are way more important here than at other companies I’ve been involved with,” says Andy Woodward, global vice president of sales and marketing since 2010. “It’s focused on much more than just profit. It’s more, ‘Do the right thing first, protect the people, do the things that are morally sound rather than making money’.”

“We’ve grown into a very large operating company,” notes Urquhart. “But our core competencies were born out of what Sergius Vernet put in place. We are proud this year to mark 75 years of excellence and integrity, in the name of our company’s founder.”

To read a more detailed account about Vernay’s remarkable history, go to https://bit.ly/Vernay75th.

About Vernay Laboratories Inc.

Vernay Laboratories has been a technology leader in the design, development, and manufacture of customized flow-control components since its founding in 1946. The company also formulates its own compounds to address each specific application. Vernay’s products play a vital role in millions of medical devices, automobiles, and consumer products. Today, the privately held firm produces more than 1 billion components per year, drawing from a library of more than 33,000 elastomeric materials and compound formulations. It operates five plants around the world, in the U.S., the Netherlands, Italy and China. For more information, visit www.vernay.com.

Contacts

Gaby Yohn

Global Marketing Communications Specialist

gabyyohn@vernay.com or (404) 920-8942

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