Founded in 1934 Rogan Corporation today is a globally recognized custom injection molder that supports the needs of original equipment manufacturers in the medical and pharmaceutical, consumer products, automotive, electronics, appliance, telecommunications and industrial markets.
As a recognized leader for over three-quarters of a century within its industry, Rogan's high quality standards and responsiveness to its customer's needs has always been the major focus of the organization and its founders.
Rogan in the 1920's
Ed Rogan Sr. imigrated from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to Chicago, Illinois quickly to be followed by his brothers Nicholas and Julian. The brothers came over with a trade in carpentry. Leo Baekland, a Belgium chemist, held a patent for phenol-formaldehyde. Phenol-formaldehyde is a necessary product in producing his invention in 1909 of Bakelite, a plastic made from synthetic components. In 1927 Bakeland's patent expired and the world was able to embrace Bakelite in the production of household goods and personal accessories from pens to art deco jewelry. On October 29th, 1929 the New York Stock Exchange crashed and "The Great Depression" was soon to follow.
Rogan in the 1930's
As the US's non-farm unemployment hit 37% and construction came to a halt, Ed Sr., Nick, and Jim established the Rogan Brothers Company out of desperation. Their first product was to provide a calligraphy service throughout Chicago. Their service was utilized by the iconic Chicago book seller Kroch and Bretanos for personalized gifts, the Chicago School District for diplomas, and by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago for baptisms, marriages and confirmation certificates. Additionally, the Chicago Blackhawks ice hockey team won their first Stanley Cup.
Transformation #1: A new manufacturing capability began with the purchase of a Kwikprint marking machine at $5 a month. The Kwikprint permitted the Rogan Brothers to add gold stamping to fabrics, wood, cardboard, book covers, and leather to their capabilities list. The company also moved from the founders' apartment to a 200 square foot loft at 40 N Wells St. The Rogan Brothers' new location is now the place of a historically significant 5 story building that was built in 1974.
Transformations #2 and #3: New manufacturing capability and a new market began with experimentation and a little bet. Experimentation began with molded plastic rejects given to the Rogan Brothers by the Bachner Family of Chicago Molded Products who sensed that plastics could be marked more efficiently and a couple of steel dies given by the F & S Engraving company. Legend has it that Jerry Wilman, an independent sales rep for Hart Thermostat Company and a World War ONE (not two) vet, believed in the "boys". The custom of many small manufacturing shops back then was to celebrate getting paid, one Friday night Jerry bet Nick Rogan a fifth of whiskey that he couldn't invent a process to mark plastics. Today this would be called reverse psychology. Nick Rogan, according to family legend, invented a process called "branding" of plastics, later known as hot stamping. This occurred at 4:00 AM that Saturday morning and Uncle Nick did it to win that fifth of whiskey. The stove appliance industry embraced "branding" for their dials and knobs and before long branding became the preferred manufacturing method for marking plastics replacing previous methods of engraving and paint and wipe. Our first two customers were the Albert Lea Stove Company and Sunbeam. J.J. Rogan became a charter member of the Society of Plastics Industries Inc.
The Rogan Brothers' first checking account was opened at the Merchandise National Bank of Chicago and on February 8th the balance was $174.72. The company moves for the second time to 2001 S Michigan Avenue in Chicago and Nick Rogan opened up an Eastern "Branch" in Brooklyn, New York. The Chicago Blackhawks win their second Stanley Cup.
On January 7th the Rogan Brothers' bank balance was $153.46. The Rogan Brothers' became the United States Department of War's (now the Department of Defense) ONLY approved hot stamp marking contractor of plastics. On September 3rd France and Britain declare war against Germany.
Rogan in the 1940's
Transformation #4: New market develops because of World War II. On January 6th the Rogan Brothers' had a bank balance of $327.38. On June 25th France surrendered to Germany and the U.S. government increased sales of military equipment to Britain. Nick Rogan threw in the towel and closed our Brooklyn "Branch" but the Rogan Brothers became a military contractor by providing hot stamped markings primarily used for the U.S. Navy. The Chicago Bears win the NFC championship.
On January 7th the Rogan Brothers' bank balance is $1,200.34. In order to fulfill military contracts the Rogan Brothers Company increased from just the three brothers (Ed Sr., Nick and Jim) to a total of 24 employees utilizing three eight hours shifts on seven day work weeks. The Chicago Bears win the NFC championship for the second year in a row.
On January 16th the Rogan Brothers' bank balance was $2,126.04. J.J. Rogan became a charter member of the Society of Plastics Engineers. The Rogan Brothers' Company experienced their third move to Wacker Drive on the Chicago River where rejects were literally thrown out the windows in the Chicago River! In 1943 Edward Rogan II was born and was immediately put to work drooling on diploma seals. The Bears win the NFC championship.
The Rogan Brother's bank balance on January 10th was $3,302.53. On September 3rd Japan surrendered which marked the end of World War II. The US Department of War sent out telegrams cancelling all military contracts. This was an across the board action as even the legendary Howard Hughes had his contract for 100 XF-11 airplanes cancelled. As government military spending was halted the first post World War II recession occurred. Due to the recession the Rogan Brothers Company was left with only one commercial account forcing a change in employment to just the three brothers. The savior for the Rogan Brothers Company was orders for the thumbwheel on the Sunbeam "Ironmaster" electric iron. Luckily millions of "modern" irons were sold in the post war years allowing the Rogan Brothers Company to survive its 1st recession in company history. The Chicago Cubs were in their last World Series appearance and lost to Detroit.
Transformation #5: New manufacturing capability with the purchase of 3 war surplus Stokes/Hull compression molding machines which allowed the Rogan Brothers to become custom molders of phenolic plastics. On January 21st the Rogan bank balance was $1,042.74. After serving in the Canadian Army during World War II, the fourth brother Andrew Rogan joined the Rogan Brothers' Company. An advertising campaign was created "Make plans now... for the coming plastic era consult Rogan" which ran until 1950. Initial customers of the new molding capabilities included Sunbeam, Robertshaw Controls, Hart Manufacturing, Westinghouse, Amphenol, General Electric X-Ray and Hospital, Hamilton Beach, Dremel, Toastmaster and Emerson Electric. The Chicago Bears win another NFC championship. In 1947 the new moldable plastics arrive such as acrylic, fiberglass, Lucite, and vinyl as the age of Bakelite domination began to diminish.
The Rogan Brothers' bank balance on February 6th, 1948 was only $289.64. The Rogan Brothers had encountered the 2nd post World War II recession and were able to survive it marking Rogan's 2nd recession in history. On March 19, 1948 we switched banks to the National Boulevard Bank of Chicago. Andrew Rogan leaves Rogan Brothers to start up Rogan Scale Corporation of Bettendorf, Iowa. John Kruk becomes 1st full time toolmaker and maintenance man, a "duct tape" genius, later to become our beloved plant manager.
The "Beatle" knob is the first knob manufactured for an undocumented customer and knob disease was contracted. The Rogan Brothers occupy a 2,500 square foot facility on Irving Park Road near Wrigley Field. As a 6 year old, Edward Rogan II, was rewarded with a Cubs game ticket if he was able to insert 5,000 screws manually in a 6 hour shift. This broke all sorts of child labor laws by today's standards and could have led to child abuse charges against Edward Rogan II's dad and uncle. Nick Rogan left the Rogan Brothers partnership to set up Synthetic Products, a custom compression molding company, in Racine, Wisconsin.
Rogan in the 1950's
As custom molders to the appliance and connector industries grew the Rogan Brothers needed more room resulting in a 6,000 square foot stand alone factory in Skokie, Illinois. Subsequent additions were made increasing the square footage to 18,000 square feet and due to the change of plant location now 9 year old Edward Rogan lost his reward of Cubs game tickets. Jack Ehrlich becomes outside accountant/CPA and trusted confidant to both Rogan families. In 1953 the Rogan Brothers join the Society of Plastics Industry. The Rogan Brothers also make it thru the 3rd recession caused by post Korean War inflation.
Transformation #6: A new design oriented and culture was created for the appliance industry. The Rogan Brothers became proprietary plastic knob and escutcheon (archaic English for dial) molders. The 1st proprietary design was the RB-11 knob and RB-1000 dial. J.J. Rogan hired the legendary industrial designer Brooks Stevens to design appliance knobs. Meanwhile, Richard J. Daley is elected to be Mayor of Chicago and on October 4th, 1947 the USSR launched Sputnik.
Transformation #7: Dramatically new knob designs were offered to the marketplace through the help of Bob Podall. J.J. Rogan found Bob Podall, a freshly graduated University of Illinois-Urban mechanical engineer, and had him design the RB-700 Series. Co-engineered by Joe Roshman at Northern Engraving Company of Sparta, Wisconsin, 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. The Corning Glass Corporation's countertop stove became its only appliance customer as injection molding became the appliance industry's plastic process of choice due to faster cycles and lower costs. Besides appliances, the RB-700 knob series could be found on guitars. Fred Hall of Rickenbacker Guitars places RB-700 Series knobs on John Lennon's Rickenbacker 325 guitar.
The Chicago "Go-Go" White Sox were in the World Series, but lost. In 1960 the Rogan Brothers survived their 5th recession with no backlog forcing 3 day work weeks and the most severe recession in company history until 2008. John F. Kennedy is elected President.
Rogan in the 1960's
On April 12th the USSR puts Yuri Gargarin, the 1st astronaut, into orbit and returns him to earth. In response to the USSR's accomplishment on May 25th President Kennedy declares "America will go to the moon and return an astronaut to Earth safely before the end of the decade". The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.
Transformation #8: A new market in analogic electronics through the creation of the modern US electronics industry which still employed at least 1,800,000 Americans in 2009. Good old fashioned American ingenuity and inventiveness prevails as JFK's government issues space and defense contracts to reach the moon. The electronics industry replaces the "Flash Gordon" knob and dial styling with the RB-700 Series.
In 1963 the Chicago Bears win the NFC Championship for the first time in 17 years. By 1966 Edward Rogan II had joined the Rogan Brothers. In 1967 the Rogan Brothers incorporates to become Rogan Corporation and buys its first two injection molding machines. J.J. Rogan, John Von Holdt (founder of Plas-Tool), Joe Klingler (co-founder of Janler Tool) and Bob Podall design a new series of instrument knobs dubbed the "67 Series". The "67 Series" incorporated injection molding, rotating mold base tables, and interchangeable DME (durable medical equipment) mold components to become the most profitable insert molded control knob series in world history with the volume continuing to grow until the 1990's.
FBI/Defense Department informs Rogan Corporation that our RB-700 knobs survived the 1967 Six Day Israeli-Arab War...in a Russian tank. In response to this knowledge the US government requested customer lists for investigation on how Russians obtained top secret US tank technology. On July 21st,1969 American Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon fulfilling President Kennedy's promise to get an American on the moon before the end of the decade. Rogan Corporation received a commendation of our contribution by the US government "for having supplied a component that was on the moon's surface". (Note: we believe that we had a knob that was on the instrument[s] that collected and/or analyzed moon rocks.)
Rogan in the 1970's
In 1970 Rogan Corporation was able to survive its 6th recession.
In 1972 Rogan Corporation builds and occupies a new 42,000 square foot facility in Northbrook Illinois and places a profit sharing plan into effect.
In 1973 OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) creates an oil crisis and gas lines are formed. Resins being delivered to Northbrook in packaging marked for export only created a plastic raw material shortage.
From 1974 to 1975 Rogan Corporation experienced its 7th recession and was able to survive it.
Transformation #10: Rogan Corporation enters a new market and creates fasteners. The word 'stagflation' was invented after rampant inflation was coupled with no United States GDP growth results. On December 20th, 1976 Mayor Richard J. Daley suddenly died. In 1978 Edward Rogan II purchases Rogan Corporation from his uncle, J.J. Rogan and his father, Ed Rogan Sr. In 1979 multi-material/two-shot injection Van Dorn(later DEMAG) molding machines were added. Two new members also join Rogan Corporation, David Schoessow as the assistant plant manager and Jim Ritzema as a mold maker's apprentice.
Rogan in the 1980's
Transformation #11: A professional marketing plan. In 1980 the prime lending rate is 20.05% and consumer price inflation reaches 14.76%. Len Hones and Dick Spurgeon of K.W. Tunnell Consultants start a long term strategic planning relationship. In 1981 Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States. A 22-month 'W-shaped' recession squeezes out inflation and Rogan Corporation rides out surviving its 8th recession. The geographic term 'Rust Belt' is created by there being a strong dollar, foreign competition and recession. Hones, Spurgeon and Rogan Corporation create the 'Last Man Standing' 5 year marketing plan.
Transformation #12: 'Pure Touch' Series of control knobs are introduced with a rubber-like 1st surface molded of Kraton. Other companies did similar things but much later such as Butler Mfg Company introducing the GUM line of two-color, soft feel toothbrushes in 1988 and OXO introduced first Good Groups in 1990. Rogan Corporation is a pioneer at automatic two material molding. In 1984 Rogan Corporation acquires Sutphen Corporation, a decorative metal trim manufacturer. The Chicago Bulls sign a rookie named Michael Jordan.
Transformation #13: A new manufacturing skill through the use of new technology and equipment. Using Italian technology and PRESMA molding equipment Rogan Corporation created a co-injection ball knob series. Co-injection molding is using reground plastics as filler and thin walled shiny virgin plastic skin molder over the filler providing aesthetics and this method is the forerunner of the environmentalist demand that scrap and regrind plastics be re-used. This method is still used in the high heels on women's shoes. Da Bears win their 1st and to date only Super Bowl.
INC MAGAZINE's featured a compensation system in their August, 1993 edition under 'Good Form' and a Gainsharing Program was started at Rogan Corporation. After realizing that heat generated by our two compressors back in the plant could be recycled, Rogan Corporation drastically reduces natural gas usage for heating the plant. Rogan was going green way ahead of time. In 1988 Rogan receives spurious and fictitious claims against us on quality issues but Rogan was able to vanquish these as ALL court actions are victories further confirming that Rogan Corporation manufactures with the highest quality. Rogan Corp experiences and learns firsthand how vicious the new internet technology can be because of lawyer chat rooms.
In order to insure quality standards Rogan Corporation creates mechanical and material specifications for its plastic knob fastener product lines. These specs are widely adopted by the plastic knob fastener industry's suppliers and customers. Richard M. Daley is elected the Mayor of Chicago. As 92 months of US economic growth comes to an end in 1990 Rogan Corp had survived its 9th recession.
Rogan in the 1990's
Transformation #14: A new manufacturing skill set with creation of new sub-company to Rogan. Co-founder Ed Rogan Sr. (1907-1991) passes away. The Chicago Bulls win their first ever NBA Championship. In 1992 Rogan Corporation creates 'Design Standards Company' and becomes a pioneer of gas assist injection molding. Rogan Corporation is named Employer of the Year award by 'INC MAGAZINE'. The Chicago Bulls win their second NBA championship. Two years after his brother J.J. Rogan (1911-1993) co-founder and driving force of Rogan Brothers dies. On May 7th 1993 Rogan Corporation grants Nabeya Kogyo Co., (NBK) Ltd of Seki City, Gifu Prefecture Japan sole distribution rights in Japan. On September 13th, Design Standards produces its first gas assist product named 'My Cubby' which is sold thru big box department stores such as Wal-Mart. Cinpres technology and Van Dorn(later to be DEMAG) molding machines are utilized. Rogan Corporation proves to be a green company when it creates a native Illinois prairie on the back two acres of the Northbrook facility in cooperation with the Northbrook Garden Club. The Bulls win their third NBA Championship in a row.
The Chicago Tribune Co. has a series entitled 'The New Breed of Leaders Driving a Business Revolution' and Rogan Corporation was the first of four companies featured. After 13 years Rogan Corporation was able to complete its five year strategic plan 'Last Man Standing'. In 1995 J.J. Rogan Scholarship Fund is established for U of Illinois at Urbana, U of Illinois at Chicago, and U of Wisconsin at Madison. In 1996 the Chicago Bulls won their fourth NBA Championship in a row.
In 1997 the 500 millionth part in our history was shipped. It's not surprising this landmark was hit considering that this year in Rogan's history we experienced our greatest profitability with a 20+% pre-tax profit obtained. This was attained through just, loyal, willing, clever, hard working, and customer oriented members of 'Rogan', as we call ourselves. Additionally, 4 high cubes (vertical storage) were installed making appoximately 1500 sq ft of the plant floor available for other uses. Rogan co-sponsored the 'Creative Challenge for Design Engineers' National Contest with Machine Design Magazine. This contest required contestants to submit bridges built from the same 627-piece K'NEX' kit and the winning bridge supported 55 pounds. The Bulls continue their winning streak with the 5th NBA title in a row.
Kipp added Rogan products to their new print catalog which included our CAD drawings. Adding our products to their line turned Kipp into one of our top customers.
Rogan Corporation was the winner of the 'Manufacturing Counts 99 Award' by the Chicago Manufacturing Center and Illinois Institute of Technology. Rogan was also awarded an Illinois grant allowing us to implement a state of the art automatic plastics recycling system.
Rogan in the 2000's
US economic growth came to an end after 120 months. On September 11th terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City. Terrorists also crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., leaving the country in complete devastation. The dot.com bubble took place as NASDAQ suddenly dropped after steadily increasing over a few years. Rogan Corporation also endured its 10th recession.
The United Stated faced difficult times and the manufacturing industry took a hard hit. Rogan reflected an economy in despair.
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, newfangled technologies, textiles and thingamajigs'(see Forbes June, 2006) quarterly client mailings.
Rogan's quality system becomes registered to ISO 9001:2000.
On April 1st Rogan Corporation combines Rogan Medical Components into the Northbrook facility. In December Rogan purchased Express Mold and Tool, Inc. and incorporated Express Mold and Tool machines into the Rogan plant. Rogan also added a medical clean room to the Northbrook, IL facility from Rogan Medical in Lake Bluff, IL.
Taichi Okamoto (1941-2009) of NBK Co. Ltd, Japan passed away at the age of sixty-eight. Taichi was a true friend, teacher and visionary to Rogan Corporation. Due to the deepest recession since World War II, Rogan Corp's 75th Anniversary Party had to be cancelled. However, we were able to survive the 'Great' Recession of 2010! This recession, the 11th in our history, was detrimental to the company.
Rogan's quality system registration is upgraded to ISO 9001:2008.
Rogan in the 2010's
Phase 1 in expanding Rogan Corporation's molding capabilities was started in order to open new possibilities for new and current customers.
The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup against the Philadelphia Flyers. This was their first Stanley Cup win in over 40 years but their 4th win overall.
Rogan Corporation celebrated our 33rd Annual Founders Day Celebration. Co-Founder J.J. Rogan would have been 100 years old this year!
In response to growing medical and pharmaceutical device industry demands utilizing liquid silicone rubber (LSR) molding and assembly capabilities, Rogan added a new Class 100,000 Cleanroom. The new 1,500 sq ft clean room marked the completion of Phase I. Looking forward toward projected growth, Phase II is in the planning stage involving further expansion. Additionally four new horizontal and vertical LSR injection-molding presses were added to meet the needs of our customers' demands but also for a continued increase in our molding capabilities. Beyond LSR molding machines Rogan has purchased 2 new horizontal two-shot molding machines, a two-color pad printing machine and 2 Servo Robot machines to assist in loading or unloading parts from a molding machine. Our total investment in machinery and equipment since 2010 has been roughly $1.5 million.
Rogan's quality system becomes registered to ISO 13485:2003 for manufacturer of medical components.
In March of 2013 Rogan Corporation experienced a flood. A water main line underneath the front office broke causing the floor to crack down the middle and the office walls to begin to buckle. Before long water covered the entire area and the conference room (being slightly lower than the rest of the office) had a few feet of water in it. Luckily the plant managed to be fairly unharmed. All employees who worked in the front office were transferred to the lunchroom as a temporary fix until make-shift cubicles were built on the plant floor. The situation was not ideal but business must go on! Full restoration of the front office and other affected areas took nearly 6 months to complete and it was not until the beginning of August that the front office employees were able to return to their original desks.
Rogan Corporation had a featured article in Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry about LSR capabilities and its future in the medical world. This article was co-written Eric Bishop and Rogan Corp's Jim Ritzema who is the director of operations.
In June the Chicago Blackhawks won their fifth Stanley Cup against the Boston Bruins.