The History of Durex Industries is an Example of American Vision and Entrepreneurship. It is a story of how a company was built with a vision and borrowed money to become a leading supplier of industrial thermal solutions.
Durex was founded in 1980 by Ed Hinz and two partners. From the beginning, Ed had a vision of a company that would design and manufacture excellent robust thermal solutions. The name Durex was chosen to symbolize the message. “Dur” stands for durable and “ex” for excellence.
The vision was to have capability under one roof for supplying the complete thermal solution, including design services, heater manufacturing, machining, and assembly. The result remains a Durex core competency. Durex has processes for controlling quality and cost while providing faster design and manufacturing delivery. Durex’ vision has not changed since 1980. This did not happen overnight, and the evolution of Durex continues today.
The early 1980’s was a challenging time to start a business. Durex started by purchasing used equipment that could be modified for heater and sensor manufacturing. A 20,000 sq. ft. building was purchased in Palatine, IL.
Money was tight, but with a combination of personal investment and 22% interest rates, the business was launched. Durex’ first products were cable (coil) heaters, cast aluminum heaters, and sensor assemblies. Durex’ first major customer was Westinghouse, who purchased a cable heater assembly. The same heater was supplied for about 20 years and was a stable revenue base for building the business. Cast aluminum heaters used on plastic extruder equipment were another major driver of early growth. Randy Nelson (General Manager) joined Durex after working part-time during college.
Business doubled every year, and in 1984 a 20,000 sq. ft. building was purchased in Barrington, IL. The new Barrington facility allowed Durex to continue expanding while adding new product lines and capabilities. During the late 1980’s, Durex expanded as a full-service thermal solution supplier by developing capabilities for design and manufacturing cartridge, formed tubular, and screw plug heaters. Auto-Cad capability was added for design and business computers, for order entry and billings.
The early 1990s were especially challenging because of a global recession which caused a downturn in industrial business. New business loans were difficult to obtain, so personal lines of credit were necessary to keep the business solvent. Westinghouse Marine Division became a catalyst for growth and profitability when Durex started manufacturing cast-in aluminum heaters for plastic processors on ships.
The semiconductor industry emerged as a new growth market with Durex supplying cast-in aluminum pedestal heaters to FSI International, Applied Materials and Novellus Systems. During this period, the vision of supplying customers with complete thermal solutions continued. New design software tools and manufacturing capabilities were added. By 1990, Durex had outgrown the Barrington facility. Land was purchased and a new 60,000 sq. ft. facility was built in Cary, IL.
Business doubled again between 1996 and 2000, because of growth in the semiconductor, plastics and foodservice industries. The Cary, IL, facility saw a 6,000 sq. ft. expansion to support growth in the cast aluminum heater product line. Durex continued to invest in expanded manufacturing and product capabilities, including in-house Coordinate Measuring (CM), Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining. The aluminum tubular heater was developed for high technology customers. Kyle Hinz joined Durex as a mechanical engineer. Sensor business expanded with the acquisition of the high-temperature Heraeus Furnace and Process Sensor product line.
The global economic downturn of 2001 was challenging for businesses, and supply chains were interrupted. Durex’ customers, focusing on their own core competencies, wanted stable vertically integrated suppliers with the capability to supply advanced thermal solutions and assemblies. Business continued to grow. Durex invested in new CNC machining, a Class 10,000 Cleanroom, Teflon® coating, and semiconductor cleaning processes. A new MRP System was introduced to improve business and manufacturing work flow. Kelly Hinz-Brauch joined Durex as Human Resource Manager. A new 40,000 sq. ft. addition was added to the Cary, IL, facility.
Product, design and manufacturing capabilities continued to expand. Durex’ flexible silicone rubber and Kapton® heaters were introduced. Anodizing, plating, electro-polishing and cleaning lines were added to improve quality, reduced material costs, and prototype and production lead-times. Durex’ business suffered during the 2008/09 recession, but this time also gave the company the opportunity to refocus on new growth strategies. Randy Nelson became General Manager. Ed Hinz continued as President.
Durex’ ability to supply customers with innovative thermal solutions continues today. New product lines such as SENTINEL® Gas and Pump Line Heaters and HALO® Temperature Controllers have been developed and are being launched in cooperation with strategic partners.
In 2012, Durex Industries purchased a 25,000 sq. ft. facility in Cary, IL for expansion of Process Heat Solution capabilities. In 2014, a new business-wide MRP system was launched to support present and future business. Durex Industries continues to invest in the future in order to bring our customers the best possible thermal solutions.