It was the roaring 20s, shortly after World War, when industrial and manufacturing business sectors saw unprecedented growth. Soldiers were returning home, business ingenuity was vibrant, and jobs became increasingly plentiful, particularly in more populated parts of the country where various modes of transportation existed. Consumer demand was on the rise, and for northwestern Pennsylvania and other states along the Rust Belt, this meant economic growth opportunities.
Inventions like the radio and telephone merely scratched the surface of unparalleled 20th century innovations. The practicality of having access to automobiles made driving an ideal choice for consumers, albeit with challenges. Loud squealing of metal-on-metal contact at the leaf spring joints that supported the body of cars was prominent. Attempts to resolve the noise by attaching rubber to the metal failed — the vulcanized rubber used as a damper would not adhere to the metal.
In 1924, Hugh Lord, a patent attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, began working on a solution to the problem, which was the impetus for the founding of LORD Corporation, a diversified technology and manufacturing company that developed highly reliable adhesives, coatings, motion management devices, and sensing technologies to significantly reduce risk and improve product performance. Within three years of establishing his company, Lord figured it out — rubber bushings would be inserted into the eyes of the leaf springs to carry the weight. It was in that same year that the first sale for LORD was completed — General Electric would use LORD rubber mountings on its air compressors in trolly cars. Automakers like Nash Motors and Lincoln would later follow suit by using LORD engine mounts on their cars.
Strength in Partnership
In October 2019, Parker Hannifin, a Fortune 250 global leader in motion and control technologies acquired LORD — expanding our technology portfolio and strengthening our position as a global leader in engineered materials and products. This strategic transaction turned our strong materials science capabilities, electrification, and aerospace products into highly complementary offerings. Parker is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio; but the Erie, Pennsylvania location remains a flagship facility, with nearby plants in Cambridge Springs and Saegertown — responsible for production that serve global customers.
For nearly a century, when many industrial and manufacturing plants have come and gone, in and around Erie, Parker LORD stands firm and is one of the largest employers in the area.
Positioning for the Future
In 2015, LORD opened the doors to its new state-of-the-art Summit Township manufacturing plant. The $100 million investment represented a huge economic victory for Erie. The one million square-foot facility enabled structural and equipment upgrades to fill a strong backlog from former facilities on West 12th Street and Grandview Boulevard.
The Cambridge Springs facility supports the electromechanical assembly product line for aerospace and industrial customers. This product line has seen rapid growth over the last several years and has become very complimentary to the rubber-to-metal product that is produced for the oil and gas, industrial, and general aviation markets.
In 2018, LORD broke ground on the Saegertown facility expansion project — an $80 million dollar investment to help meet customer demand around the globe. This expansion project will be completed in 2023, adding 75,000 square feet to an already existing 250,000 square-foot building.
Saegertown is the company’s largest specialty chemicals, adhesives and coatings manufacturing facility. Materials developed at the site are used in the production of almost all passenger vehicles throughout the world. The plant produces a wide variety of LORD acrylic, urethane, and epoxy adhesives, as well as Chemlok® rubber-to-substrate adhesives — in addition to producing specialty intermediate chemicals and coatings products.
As part of Parker Hannifin, Parker LORD continues to serve customers in growth industries while capitalizing on emerging trends, such as electrification and lightweighting. Together, we share nearly two centuries of collective rich history, passionate team members, and a winning culture committed to serving our customers, shareholders, and communities.