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Monday, September 14, 2015

Raychem History

History of Raychem Corp.

  You may not know it, but there is a group out there called the Raychemers.  You see Raychem was such an incredible company to work for that many former employees have a real spot in their heart for all things Raychem.  Having been around this for many years (my Father worked at Raychem for 25+ years), the only thing I could compare it to would be the feelings someone has for their Alma Mater College, or the feeling someone might have for their fraternity.  Somehow, Paul Cook and the rest of his team were able to foster a work place environment that could recapture the freshness and the newness that generally not found in adult careers.  In any case, this months Raychemer Pennant (newsletter) found its way to my email inbox this morning and I wanted to share some of what was written.

     The first thing to catch my eye is a fascinating piece on the Raychem Technical Hall of Fame that seems to have been written by a Dr. Leon Glover:

Raychem Technical Hall of Fame

     Raychem was founded on January 1, 1957.  It grew rapidly by creating proprietary new products based on Radiation processing of polymers to meet critical and difficult industry needs for electrical circuit integrity in harsh environments.  Included in these initial products were irradiated wire insulation and heat shrinkable tubing.  Markets included Aerospace, Military, Automotive, Telecommunications and Electrical Power Generation markets.

     In 1968, Raychem acquired Chemelex leading Raychem to extend its radiation polymer processing technology to polymers filled with conductive carbon creating a family of "Self Limiting Heaters".  This technology was further extended to produce resettable switches forming the enabling technology for the "Polyswitch" Division.

     As Raychem grew into a world class Material Science Company, additional technologies explored, developed and taken to market were Heat Recoverable Metals, Piezoelectric Materials (Elographics), Silicone Gels (Geltek) and Liquid Crystals (Taliq). 

     Each year, Raychem devoted between 8 and 10 percent of sales into Research and Development resulting in thousands of new products based on the technologies listed above.  Research and Product Development labaratories, in addition to Menlo Park and Redwood City were established in Swindon, UK, Kessel-Lo, Belgium, Ottobrunn, Germany, Pontois, France and Japan.

     Manning these laboratories were an extremely creative and talented group of scientists and engineers who found innovative ways to use technologies to create new products. 

     In 1990, after Paul Cook retired, the technical leadership of the company proposed creating the "Raychem Technical Hall of Fame".  This proposal was accepted and the first "Hall of Fame" class was initiated on December 11, 1991.  This was followed by further inductions in June 1993 and February 1996.  Paul Cook was the first inductee recognized for his vision and technical leadership of the company.  Other inductees were:

December 1991:
Paul Cook
Robin Clabburn
Roger Ellis
Lou Frisco
Rosse Heslop
Vince Lanza
John Lyons
David Nyberg
Ed Stivers

June 1993:
Klaus Dahl
Leon Glover
James Jervis
Hans Lunk
Jean-Marie Nolf
Richard Penneck
Richard Sovish

February 1996:
Jack Harrison
Jun Ishioka
William Johnson
Daniel Magay
Noel Overbergh
Gerald Shimirak

Plaques with the names of each induction class were mounted in the lobby of Building J auditorium.  Unfortunately, these have been lost with the take over of Raychem by Tyco International and the demolition of building J.

     The last thing I would share from this newsletter is a Raychem in Review:  1976 snapshot (same newsletter but I am not sure who wrote / compiled this article).

Raychem Sales (1976 dollars):  $171,332,000
Raychem Income (1976 dollars):  $3,516,000
Income/Share:  $2.65
Number of Employees:  4400
Floor Space Occupied:  2,300,000 square feet

In the first quarter, Raychem received an order for the corrosion prevention tape for use on buried sections of the trans-Alaska pipeline.  This was the largest order in Raychem history.

Midway through the third quarter foreign currency valued dropped precipitously and simultaneously in several of the countries where Raychem's business was the greatest.

Sales of Chemelex products continued strong throughout the year, augmented by new customers for Auto-Trace self limiting heaters.

At year end, the decision was made to cease manufacture and sale of Stilan polyarylene polymer, resulting in an approximate 9.3 million dollar change to net earnings. 

The early work on conductive polymers produced the very successful Chemelex auto tracing self limiting heater.  With the cessation of Stilan operating substantial technical energies have been transferred to the conductive polymer area.  This should lead directly to the commercialization of a number of new products over the next few years. 


  1. Hi there! I worked for Raychem from 78 till 83. First in Putzbrunn and later in Höhenkirchen, Germany.
    And I also still bear it in my heart.
    I would very much like to know who are these raychemers? Do I know any of them?

  2. Yes - wonderful people and a wonderful workplace late 70s & 80s