Henniges Automotive Celebrating 100 years in Manufacturing

Published Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September 9, 2015 - It all began on August 24, 1915 when Emil G. Lindstrand, a Keokuk contractor, was awarded the contract to build the new Standard Four Tire Company that would produce tires for the Ford Model T. In 1931, the plant was idle for a while when the company went bankrupt until reorganization occurred.

Dryden Rubber Company bought the plant in 1937 and chemically blown sponge rubber was manufactured.  The building was expanded in 1939 and again in 1945 immediately after World War II.  During the war the plant made gas masks and shoe soles as well as sponge rubber parts for military automobiles.

Then in 1949, Sheller Manufacturing purchased the plant and changed the name to Dryden Rubber Division and later as Dryden-Keokuk Division.  The plant started making urethane foam for the furniture industry as well as safety crash pads, and arm rests in addition to the sponge parts.
Sheller merged with Globe-Wernecke in 1966 and on January 1, 1967 the plant became Keokuk Division of the Sheller-Globe Corp.  The product line was comprised of urethane foam (safety crash pads for automobiles) and sponge rubber products (weather-strips) for the automobile industry. Then in 1988, the company was purchased by United Technologies Automotive.  It was during this time that plant personnel went to France to learn new technology; applying electrostatically charged polyester to fibers to the rubber extrusion to aid glass travel. By 1995 this process, known as flock application, comprised of about 35% of their plant product lines.

In 1990, Schlegel, a division of BTR, bought Sheller-Globe rubber division.  The Keokuk plant then became known as the Iowa Division of Schlegel Sealing Systems dedicated to making weather-strip seals for the automotive industry.  The plant produced over  50,000 parts per day with the primary customer being Ford Motor Company.  In 1994, the first weather-strip with a colored master trip lip, Spectratrim was patented by Schlegel.

Then in 1995, the name changed to BTR Sealing Systems North America, Iowa Operations.  With this name change, the product lines did not change and the plant continued making weather-strips for the automotive industry. In 1998 the company invested thirteen million dollars to build a new state of the art mixing facility, increasing capacity of rubber mixing to 90 million pounds a year.  For the past 17 years, the Keokuk site has furnished the rubber compound to all of our North America Operations.

In 1999, the parent company, BTR, merged with Siebe to form Invensys.  CVC Partners Limited purchased the Automotive Sealing Systems portion of Invensys in April 2000, which included the Keokuk site.  The name was then changed to Metzeler Automotive Profile Systems, and the plant continued making weather-strips for the automotive industry.
In 2007, Wynnchurch Capital Ltd.  purchased the North America facilities, including the Keokuk Operation.  In December 2007, additional plants were bought from GDX Automotive and the new company name became Henniges Automotive.

Littlejohn & Co. acquired Henniges from WynnChurch Capital Ltd. in 2010.  Henniges currently supplies weather-strips to Detroit Automakers.  Ford comprises 31% of our business, General Motors 31%, Chrysler 10% and Internal/Other 28%. Today there are over 600 people employed at the Keokuk location. 

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