Wilsonart was founded as a producer of high pressure decorative laminate in 1956 in Temple, Texas, by Ralph Wilson, Sr., a retired laminate industry executive. Wilson’s intent was never to build a major competitor — the field in those days included 12 domestic competitors - but rather to fill his free time.
Throughout the 1960s, Wilson’s “hobby” grew dramatically through a formula comprising a dedicated local work force, high-quality products and an old-fashioned commitment to customer service.
The company, then known as Ralph Wilson Plastics Company, was founded on the promise to deliver “laminate anywhere in the United States in 10 days or less.” To ensure this, the company purchased and still maintains its own fleet of delivery trucks in North America.
A warehouse system, now comprising 20 facilities in North America, was put in place to respond to diverse market conditions and maintain a vast inventory of laminate close to every customer.
The mid-1970s brought the real push to establish what has become the world’s finest network of independent wholesale distributors of building materials. These distributors today number more than 100 across North America and serve as the personification of Wilsonart, marketing with the ideals and service philosophy on which Wilsonart was founded.
By the end of the 1970s, Wilsonart® Laminate had become one of the nation’s leading brands of decorative laminate. A new plant, located in Fletcher, North Carolina, was added in 1979 to meet increasing demand for product. Less than eight years later, “Temple North” — the world’s most highly efficient, state-of-the-art laminate production facility — came on line in Temple. This facility has since doubled in size and is today considered one of the largest of its type in the world.
Wilsonart also produces and distributes its own brand of Wilsonart® Adhesives. The manufacturing facility in Temple, Texas produces a wide range of adhesive products for ever-changing market needs.
The 1980s marked the beginning of product diversification for Wilsonart. Design Group I™ (now The Standards), the company’s line of readily available solid colors and patterns, was instituted and has become, in large part, an industry standard for design direction. Wilsonart® Decorative Metals joined the line-up in the mid-‘80s.
By the 1990s, Wilsonart’s product diversification sped up to meet new market opportunities.
- Wilsonart® Custom Edges add a rich look to countertops with laminate beveled edges or a variety of wood edges;
- Wilsonart® Solid Surfacing create rooms with unparalleled design and distinction;
- Wilsonart® Sinks may be bonded to both laminate and solid surface sheet goods creating integral bowl and countertop looks.
- Wilsonart® Custom Laminate allows designers to create one-of-a-kind laminate surfaces through digital or silk-screen printing processes;
- Wilsonart® Performance Laminates meet a wide range of specialized needs, include Wilsonart® Chemsurf® Chemical-Resistant Laminate, Fire-Rated and High-Wear laminates.
Wilsonart LLC is a business unit of Illinois Tool Works Inc (NYSE: ITW), Glenview, Illinois, a Fortune 200 global diversified industrial manufacturer of value-added consumables and specialty equipment with related service businesses. The company joins other ITW Decorative Surfaces companies, including Resopal GmbH in Germany, Polyrey in France, Arborite in Canada, as well as Wilsonart operations in the United Kingdom and Asia.