The Rowmark story begins with a vision. This was, and still is, the driving force behind the company.
In 1987, Fred Kremer, the CEO of Hancor, Inc. a high-density polyethylene drainage pipe manufacturer located in Findlay, Ohio, had a vision. Fred saw a growing need for extruded sheet materials in the engraving market. He established a working relationship with Don and Audrey Morrison of Rowland, Inc. in New Berlin, Connecticut. With this partnership in place, he acquired a plastic sheet extrusion line and formed the Hancor Sheet Division.
In 1993, Fred purchased the sole sales and marketing rights for the awards and engraving market from Rowland. He created a new company, established as a separate division of Hancor, and named it Rowmark.
With a strong domestic presence, Rowmark set its sights on the growing international market. In 1996, Rowmark established a distribution warehouse in the Netherlands to respond to increasing European sales. Rowmark was on its way to becoming the worldwide leader in extruded sheet materials for the engraving market.
In 1997, Fred came to a crossroads. He had a greater vision for what Rowmark could become. In a display of unwavering belief in the employees of Rowmark and its growth potential, Fred resigned his position as CEO of Hancor and purchased Rowmark outright from Hancor in October that year. In addition, he purchased a building for Rowmark in the nearby Findlay Tall Timbers Industrial Park. This new, state-of-the-art facility would give Rowmark the room it needed to grow and prosper. Until the building was complete, Rowmark would continue to share facilities with Hancor.
Interior construction of the facility continued throughout the fall of 1997 as Fred's vision took shape. Then, on December 20, just four months before Rowmark would begin the move into its new home, Fred Kremer and two Rowmark pilots were tragically killed in a plane crash in Findlay. Despite the difficult loss, the employees of Rowmark rallied around Fred's plan for the company and pressed on with the intended move. The Kremer Family, who to this point had not been active with the business, picked up where Fred left off, fully supporting Rowmark and its employees.
On September 2, 1998, Rowmark's new facility in Findlay, Ohio was officially declared open. With room to add additional extrusion lines and the ability to store an abundance of raw materials, Rowmark was poised to enter a period of extraordinary growth. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place a day later, when the Kremer Family and Rowmark Board of Directors announced that Duane Jebbett had been named President and COO of Rowmark. A strong leader and protégé of Fred's vision, Duane was the perfect person to guide Rowmark into the 21st century.
During the mid 1990s, Rowmark was the first company in the engraving materials market to develop a website, which has since evolved into an industry standard. Rowmark also developed a state-of-the-art e-commerce site by which its distributors worldwide could order products online, once again, setting the industry standard.
In 1999, Rowmark established its first joint venture, joining with Universal Woods to bring digital color to Rowmark through sublimatable products. This partnership allowed Rowmark to establish the ColorLine® brand name for Rowmark's own line of sublimation products.
In 2001, when the industry began to see a greater infusion of laser engravers, Rowmark quickly responded by introducing a series of products engineered specifically for laser engraving.
In 2003, continuing to grow the company in a positive direction, Rowmark announced the creation of a new custom products division called Premier Material Concepts (PMC). The PMC division specializes in the manufacture of customized plastic sheet and roll stock for the thermoforming market. With an emphasis on customization, PMC's mission is to offer effective solutions to the demanding needs of the market.
Rowmark became an ISO 9001:2000 certified company on September 24, 2004, which simply means that procedures, processes and instructions have been put in place to ensure that the company's quality management system (from administration to manufacturing) is maximized to its fullest potential, resulting in quality products delivered to its customers.
In 2003, Rowmark created a joint venture partnership with Trodat, headquartered in Austria. Trodat is the world leader in self-inking stamps and, by becoming partners, Trodat and Rowmark together built a strong distribution network for the engraving market. Tromark handled the distribution of Rowmark materials to the European, African and Middle Eastern markets. With the opening of this new distribution network, the distribution warehouse in the Netherlands was closed. Later, in 2008, Rowmark would acquire 100% of Tromark to become Rowmark Europe with operations in France and the Benelux countries.
Rowmark expanded its headquarters in 2004-2005. The expanded facility contained more than 75,000 square feet and housed multiple extrusion lines; press, lamination and hot stamp capabilities; six storage silos; a warehouse dedicated to raw materials; a finished goods warehouse and the company's administration offices. In 2005, Rowmark expanded their extrusion capacity by adding a new, state-of-the-art extrusion line.
2007 marked a new chapter in Rowmark's history. It was announced late in 2006 that management and members of the Kremer family had agreed to a deal with Clearview Capital, giving the private equity firm a controlling interest in the company with senior management. All Rowmark staff remained intact and the Kremer family continued to have a minority interest.
In April of 2009, Rowmark launched ClearPath Signage Systems as a new sign supply division to service the needs of the interior architectural signage market. ClearPath offers a modular way finding system, plastic and aluminum frames, stand-offs, cable hanging systems and a variety of other sign supplies.
Also in April 2009, Rowmark acquired Troy Industries, Inc., a decorative films manufacturer located in Trenton, NC. This move would provide Rowmark with new market opportunities, as well as vertical integration. Troy Industries has since been repositioned as Color Path Technologies.
In July 2009, Rowmark acquired Delmar Products' Engravable Division. Rowmark consolidated the production of the Delmar brand with its own line of laminated sheet products for the awards, engraving and signage industry, and the products are now produced at Rowmark's manufacturing and administrative headquarters in Findlay, Ohio.
On February 1, 2010, Rowmark acquired Triline International, Ltd. as part of its overall global acquisition strategy in the interior and architectural signage markets. Triline has been a leading manufacturer of modular way finding sign systems for more than 20 years. The company has become a brand under the ClearPath division.
On June 30, 2011, Rowmark acquired Southtech Plastics, Inc. as part of its strategy to develop a decorative plastics platform. Formerly located in New Bern, North Carolina, the newly-positioned Southtech Decorative Laminations has relocated its operations into the Color Path Technologies facility in Trenton, North Carolina. The synergies between PMC, CPT and SDL bring a one-stop-shop to the markets served, specializing in custom extruded sheet and roll stock, the production of decorative and pigmented films and foils, and expertise in lamination.
Currently Rowmark employs more than 150 people worldwide and has approximately 200 distributors in 87 countries. Rowmark's future plans include the addition of several new product lines and further expansion in both the domestic and international markets.
Although company founder Fred Kremer has been gone since his untimely death in 1997, it's clear that his vision is alive and well, and his vision continues to be nurtured by the Rowmark Team.
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