112 Years of Making the World Measurably Better
Snapshots of Historic Milestones Through the Decades
Adolph Coors: Founder
Adolph Coors, founder of what was once known as the Adolph Coors Brewing and Manufacturing Company, was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1868. Arriving in Golden, Colorado in 1872, he promptly began several business ventures. Today one of those ventures is CoorsTek.
Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler started the Golden Brewery in 1873. Adolph bought out his partner in 1880 to become the sole owner.
John Herold: Artisan
John Herold, founder of Herold China and Pottery Company, the predecessor of CoorsTek, was born in Austria and immigrated to the United States around 1890. After spending many years in Zanesville, Ohio perfecting his ceramic art pottery methods, he arrived in Golden in 1909.
Herold China and Pottery Company
John Herold incorporated the Herold China and Pottery Company on December 10, 1910. Adolph Coors assisted Herold by providing a building he owned in Golden, once the Colorado Glass Works.
Gem of the Rockies & Chemical Labware
John Herold began producing art pottery in Golden, including the Gem of the Rockies line featured here. At the urging of Dr. Herman Fleck, head of the chemistry department at the Colorado School of Mines, Herold developed chemical laboratory ware based on fine clays from the hills near Golden. After withstanding complete testing by Dr. Fleck, the pieces he produced started a new product line for the company.
A Growing Investment
Adolph Coors invested in the Herold Pottery and China Company, along with several other Golden businessmen. Their investments allowed Herold to continue working on his chemical laboratory ware and art pottery. Herold produced a wide variety of products as seen above.
Adolph Coors Jr.
John Herold decided to leave Golden in early 1915. Adolph Coors Jr. took over the management of the Herold China and Pottery Company. Based on the demand for domestic labware at the start of World War I, Adolph Jr. led the small pottery’s effort to meet the growing need for labware.
Coors Porcelain Company
The Herold China and Pottery Company became the Coors Porcelain Company. Many employees came from the brewery, where beer production had ceased due to Prohibition. Coors Porcelain also employed many women, who worked in assembly, finishing, and quality inspection.
Coors USA Labware
The company produced over 300 shapes and sizes of chemical labware sold worldwide under the COORS USA trademark. Today the company still produces high-quality scientific and analytical labware.
Several lines of dinnerware and hotel ware were produced during this time, the most famous known as the Rosebud line. Other lines included Cook-N-Serve, Rock-Mount, Mello-Tone, Coorado, Golden Ivory, Golden Rainbow, Thermo-Porcelain, Glencoe Thermo-Porcelain, and White Hotel Ware. Shown here is a rosebud pitcher being removed from its handmade mold.
Growing Labware Business
During the 1920s, Coors Porcelain became a world leader in the production of labware, becoming the supplier of choice to great inventors of the day, including Thomas Edison. During this time period the company produced over 10,000 pieces of labware per day in addition to other product lines. In the photo (courtesy of the NPS), Thomas Edison and his son Charles can be seen using Coors USA labware in his Glenmont Lab.
American Chemical Society Convention
In 1932, Adolph Coors Jr. hosted the 84th annual convention of the American Chemical Society creating several gifts for attendees. Pictured above is one of those gifts, nesting ashtrays featuring the logo of the American Chemical Society in gold.
New Kiln Technology
Coors Porcelain continued to expand and grow. New circular and tunnel kilns were added, replacing the old beehive kilns.
Coors 2nd and 3rd Generations
Coors Porcelain was a family affair with Adolph Jr. and his brothers Herman and Grover each spending time at the plant in the 1920's. Adolph Jr.'s sons - Adolph III, Joseph, and Bill - all worked at the plant as well.
Evolution of a Lump of Clay
Coors Porcelain published 'The Evolution of a Lump of Clay', a booklet first released in 1936 telling the story of the company’s chemical porcelain ware manufacturing.
Champion Spark Plug Agreement
The company struck a deal with Champion Spark plug in 1940 when Champion decided to focus on making spark plugs. Coors Porcelain acquired their chemical and scientific porcelain business, including Champion's labware line and processes for isostatic forming, spray drying, and ceramic insulators.
Joseph Coors Sr.
Joseph Coors, Sr., one of Adolph Jr.'s sons, assumed leadership at the pottery in 1946 and began the process of becoming the industrial ceramic technology leader. He started the first formal R&D group at Coors Porcelain and strengthened the technical and design staff.
First Isostatic Pressed Grinding Media
The company made the first isostatic pressed grinding media from 85% alumina, creating a homogeneous, hard, wear-resistant media.
Discontinued Dinnerware Lines
Coors Porcelain discontinued consumer lines such as dinnerware and cookware during World War II to concentrate on technical porcelain products. Coors Porcelain never revived the dinnerware lines, now considered collectibles with the Rosebud line being the most popular.
In 1955 Coors Porcelain started its first metallizing division for the electronics industry with three people, one of the first to provide ceramic-to-metal bonding services - a new advancement at the time.
Dry Press Forming
The company developed the dry press forming process for faster, more economical production of small, high volume products such as those pictured here.
In 1959, a group of engineers and toolmakers at Coors Porcelain led by Bill Coors developed the recyclable aluminum beverage can. The Coors Porcelain - Container Division site where those first cans were produced is now designated a Historical Landmark by ASM International. Today the company continues to make can tooling products.
Coors Porcelain started a consumer product line including vases, ashtrays, and mugs - many of which were produced for the brewery.
High Purity Alumina
The R&D group developed a range of high-purity 99% to 99.9% aluminas, widening the range of ceramic applications across numerous industries based on their increased strength and wear resistance.
Ceramic Electronic Substrates
In 1965, Coors Porcelain scored a major contract with IBM to produce ceramic substrates used in mainframe computers - starting at 25 million substrates the first year, and growing to 15 million substrates a week at its peak.
In 1946, Coors Porcelain employed just two engineers. By 1962 that number jumped thirty-fold to 65 engineers in ceramics, chemistry, metallurgy, mineralogy, and physics.
Ceramic Armor Components
After many years of development, in 1966 Coors Porcelain produced ceramic armor components deployed for military applications - a breakthrough in lightweight protection.
Derald Whiting and the Fourth Generation
In 1972, Derald Whiting succeeded Joe Coors Sr. as president of Coors Porcelain. Several of Joseph Sr.'s sons joined the company - Joe Coors Jr., Jeff Coors, and Grover Coors - working in data processing, microelectronics, and many other departments.
Electrostatic Precipitator Insulators
Alumina insulators were used in pollution control equipment to reduce smokestack emissions - enduring high temperatures while trapping and removing dust and ash.
Integrated Circuit Packages
In 1979, the company produced ceramic dual inline packages (CER-DIP) to protect and insulate integrated circuits inside.
Thin-film electronic substrates were produced using the tape casting process, delivering thin, flat components used for telephone switching gears and other electronic applications.
Advanced Technical Ceramics
Coors Porcelain engineered new technical ceramic oxide and non-oxide materials including advanced zirconias, carbides (SiC, B4C, WC), silicon nitride, and spinel (a transparent ceramic).
Joe Coors Jr.
In 1985, Joe Coors Jr. became president of Coors Porcelain and endeared employees by brainstorming and experimenting with new ideas. He drafted the first vision statement for the company, reflected in today’s CoorsTek Vision, Mission, Values.
In 1986, Coors Porcelain became Coors Ceramics - reflecting the company’s ceramic material advancements and broad product range.
Ceramicon Designs: Consumer Products
In 1989, Coors Ceramics reentered the consumer market with tough zirconia-based ceramic products such as golf putters and drivers, golf cleats, shirt buttons, and knife sharpeners.
Measurably Better Air Quality
The company developed ceramic spray nozzles used in emission system scrubbers, made from nitride-bonded silicon carbide.
Next-Generation Ceramic Armor
Coors Ceramics engineered a next generation of ceramic armor plates - both lighter and stronger than the original.
Jim Wade succeeded Joe Coors as president in 1992 after more than three decades with the company - hired in 1959 to mix ceramic materials and working his way across a wide variety of roles and positions.
During the 1990s the company was partitioned into three operating divisions: Structural Products, Electronic Products, and Electronic Packages.
John Coors became president of Coors Ceramics in 1998 and by 2000 was also CEO and chairman. During his tenure, the company expanded exponentially - adding new materials, capabilities, and locations. John retired in January 2020, though he continues to be involved with Coors family businesses.
In 2000, Coors Ceramics changed its name to CoorsTek. The new name, along with the tagline, Amazing Solutions, reflected how the organization impacts the world by providing breakthrough solutions for its growing number of technology and manufacturing customers. The infinity symbol represented the unlimited nature of all the amazing solutions CoorsTek provides its customers.
Stryker Armor Vehicle
CoorsTek manufactured ceramic tiles for the US Army Stryker armor combat vehicle, each vehicle is covered in approximately 4,000 tiles of varying shapes and sizes.
New Technical Ceramics
In the 2000s, CoorsTek engineered new technical ceramic materials that were developed with specific properties for various applications within our markets. For the semiconductor industry we began offering PlasmaPure-UC™ alumina and PureSiC CVD Silicon Carbide. For the energy market CoorsTek developed Dura-Z™ zirconia and PhaseSiC™.
Reaction Bonded Boron Carbide
R&D engineers developed reaction-bonded boron carbide, combining lighter weight with superior hardness for armor plates.
CoorsTek Center for Advanced Materials
Paving the way for the next generation of breakthroughs in engineered ceramics, CoorsTek invested $120 million to create the new CoorsTek Center for Advanced Materials. This investment supports the rapid development of new materials — helping CoorsTek technology and manufacturing customers solve their toughest challenges with the high-performance properties of advanced ceramics. The facility combines a state-of-the-art research and development hub, a sophisticated analytical laboratory, and a world-class materials manufacturing facility. CoorsTek also has regional R&D centers in Uden, Netherlands and Hadano, Japan.
Colorado School of Mines
In 2014, CoorsTek and the Coors family announced a $27 million commitment to fund a research partnership and the construction of the CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering, an interdisciplinary academic and research facility. The investment is a significant milestone in the multigenerational partnership between CoorsTek and Mines.
5th Generation of Coors Family at CoorsTek
Today, the fifth generation of the Coors family is working at CoorsTek. Jonathan, Michael, and Timothy are co-CEO's. Several other family members work in various other departments and roles. Read more about the Coors Family in a Forbes article written in 2015.
New CoorsTek Brand
As part of our continued efforts to represent CoorsTek as the world leader in engineered ceramics and advanced materials, we created an updated visual identity fully reflecting the CoorsTek of today – and tomorrow – a company that is expert, innovative, and collaborative.
Largest Expansion in CoorsTek History
Led by John K. Coors, the acquisition of the advanced ceramics businesses of Saint-Gobain and Covalent Materials extended the company’s customer base and market presence in Europe and Asia, the largest expansion in CoorsTek history.
Mars Rover Perseverance
CoorsTek worked with NASA on MOXIE, part of the Mars Rover Perseverance, which uses CoorsTek technology to produce oxygen from the CO₂ in the Martian atmosphere.
Next Generation of Materials
Today CoorsTek material engineers are developing the next generation of specialized materials for semiconductor applications.
CoorsTek has developed state-of-the-art polycrystalline YAG (high-purity Yttrium Aluminum Garnet) optoceramics, offering a scalable solution for laser applications.
Expansion into southeast Asia
CoorsTek began construction on a new facility in Thailand to expand operations into southeast Asia.
At CoorsTek, we have a set of principles that guide how we engage with our business partners, our employees, and the world around us. From the products we make to the people we employ, The CoorsTek Way is fundamental to the way we do business and to achieving our vision of "To Make the World Measurably Better."
Introduced new CoorsTek Bioceramics brand, Permallon®. Permallon® alumina matrix composites are state-of-the-art materials developed specifically for use in orthopaedic applications.
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