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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

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 BROOKLYN. By 2000, Mr. Gasket no longer made gaskets and its operations consisted of a 200 person distribution center in Cleveland and an assembly plant in Carson City, Nevada, with 90 workers. In August 2000, Toledo-based Dana Corp., who acquired Echlin for $3.9 billion earlier that year, announced plans to shed, its Mr. Gasket division. In 2001, Mr. Gasket was purchased by Performance Products Industries- a privately held company made up of investors including some former Mr. Gasket executives. By 2004, Mr. Gasket was headquartered at 10601 Memphis Ave and continued to operate an assembly facility in Carson City, Nevada.

Last Modified: 01 Jul 2004 01:20:58 PM

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