MR. GASKET - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
MR. GASKET, a company which manufactures automobile accessories, was founded by Joseph F. Hrudka in 1965 to produce a new type of gasket he designed to withstand high temperatures. At the time, Hrudka and his brother Tom participated in the drag-racing circuit and hoped to make around $6,000 annually to fund their racing. By 1967 he sold $600,000 worth of gaskets and other auto parts and moved his operation from 4468 State Rd. to 4569 Spring Rd. With sales of $3 million and earnings of $375,000 in 1969, the company went public and Hrudka sold one-third of its equity for $2.7 million. When W. R. Grace & Co. acquired Mr. Gasket in Dec. 1971, Hrudka realized $6 million from his initial $5.00 investment. By 1972, the company relocated to 4566 Spring Rd., and by 1981, the company had 6 locations in the Brooklyn Hts. industrial park and employed 200 people in Cleveland, with another 300 working in plants in California and Mexico. However, when Mr. Gasket's business declined under Grace & Co.'s management, Hrudka bought it back for $4 million in Apr. 1981. He reinstated his former associates and acquired other auto-parts firms in order to boost annual sales and earnings.
Between 1981-85, Mr. Gasket doubled its line to 9,000 products, expanded its
physical plant, and moved its headquarters to 8700 Brookpark Rd. The company
went public again in 1983, selling 23% of the firm's stock for $32 million.
Although Mr. Gasket was considered one of the most profitable of northeast
Ohio's middle market companies in 1985, a stalled market in 1988 led to four
straight years of substantial losses (including a 85% reduction in profits in
1989). Unable to pay off a $10 million judgment against the company for
trademark infringement against Miami-based Rally manufacturing for copying
product packaging, Mr. Gasket filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of
1991. In May 1993 the Performance Group of Mr. Gasket Company, including the
name Mr. Gasket Company, was acquired for $35 million in cash and the
assumption of another $1.5 million in debt by Echlin Inc., an automotive
aftermarket corporation based in Branford, CT. After the merger, Echlin
consolidated its own performance brands with Mr. Gasket. By the next year, Mr.
Gasket was highly active in automotive motorsports sponsorship in addition to
the manufacture of its expanded products line. John M. "Jack" McGrath was
appointed president in Sept. 1995. In 1998, Mr. Gasket announced that it would
lay off 130 employees at its plant on Brookpark Rd. and that the company would
begin looking for a smaller building for its operations in