A History of Progress
More than six decades of Service
SOR founder Roy Dunlap realized his dream of having his own commercial machine shop shortly after he left the Navy following World War II. Starting small with a grubstake of $2,000 and one employee, he opened the doors of MechniArts Associates in 1946 and began manufacturing the Tel-A-Dial – an attachment for platform scales used in feed stores.
Off to a Flying Start
The new company got its first big break when a TWA employee told Roy that the varying widths of seats in their aircraft created a problem of having to carry and store different sized serving trays in order to accommodate its passengers. Roy, who was always good with mechanical challenges, designed and built a single serving tray that adjusted to fit all seats with the turn of dial. Soon his trays were standard equipment in the entire TWA fleet.
The Static O-Ring Pressure Switch is Born
It was 1956 and the airlines tray table business was doing well, yet Roy had been searching for an idea for a new product. He longed to pursue his dream of creating something unique, a product that would be the best in the world, that he could manufacture to ensure the excellence of both quality and customer service.
Roy came up with a product concept by listening to two men who had problems with their oil tanks overfilling. He decided to study existing pressure switches to learn why they weren’t accurate and then began developing his own.
To further develop his concept, he contacted Ben Brown, a physics professor at Kansas University. Ben and Roy worked together refining Roy’s idea, while also developing a deep friendship that lasted until Ben’s death years later. Together they created the Static-O-Ring. This simple but innovative design resulted in a switch of flawless accuracy that would change the power generation and oil and gas industries forever. At the time, Roy didn’t realize that his dream had come true.
Expanding Business Necessitates a Company Name Change
During the next decade, the “Static O-Ring” pressure switch continued to gain in popularity spreading across the Midwest until the company became known primarily for its accurate, dependable product. Taking advantage of this well-earned reputation, the company changed its name from MechniArts to Static O-Ring. Three factories later due to expanding business, the company began developing additional products to serve its markets. The first was a vapor-pressure temperature switch in 1978. With a new product line the name Static O-Ring no longer applied so the company name was changed to its present moniker, SOR.
Nuclear Power and Electronic Instruments Open Up New Markets in USA and Europe
The 1980s ushered in entry into the world of nuclear power generation. Countless hours of development, testing and a huge investment were spent creating products for this highly regulated industry. The 80s also brought about expansion into the world market. An SOR office was established in southern England to serve European customers. During the same time, the SOR product portfolio was expanded into level measurement. Mechanical level switches were added to the company’s product offering with the acquisition of Magnetic Sensing Waves (MSW) in Houston, Texas. This decade introduced many new additions to the SOR product line including the Mini-Hermet pressure transmitter, ultrasonic level switch and the RF level switch.
Asia Joins the SOR Family
Although the tremendous growth in business necessitated yet another move to its present location in Lenexa, Kansas, SOR never compromised its commitment to the company’s quality, quick delivery and “customer first” culture. In 1992 SOR was recognized for this when it achieved the highest possible level of quality registration – ISO 9001. Growth continued at a steady pace until it exploded with a whole new opportunity – China. In 1993, a new office in Beijing was opened to serve the country’s strong demand for power generation as well as the developing oil producing countries of the far and Middle East
Ultrasonics and Smart Transmitters Keep Up with the Times
The new millennium has witnessed the continuation of Roy Dunlap’s dream of success. New products such as line and loop powered non-contact level measurement devices were acquired and a new explosion proof pressure transmitter – the 805PT was developed and introduced for hazardous locations. In addition, the 2210 horizontal mechanical level switch was created specifically for the China market.
An Award, Lean Manufacturing and a Key Certification
2006 brought a coveted honor when SOR was named one of the Top Machine Shops in America by American Machinist magazine. 2010 began the journey into LEAN Manufacturing, creating efficiency of operations by considering the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and a target for elimination. Safety Integrity Level (SIL) certification was achieved in 2011 across the company’s line of pressure, differential pressure, temperature, vacuum and level switches. All have been certified fit for use in SIL environments. SOR is one of only a few manufacturers in the industry to offer its entire range of switches certified to IEC 61508 safety standard.
A Brand Refresh and a New President
In 2012, SOR launched a brand refresh to better reflect our ability to out-service our competition and respond to special product requests. A new logo and motto were created. Also that year, Mike Waters was named President and CEO of SOR.
SOR continues to develop products its customers demand for better, safer and more sophisticated solutions to their industry challenges. One example is the 805QS Electronic Pressure Switch with continuous output that was developed in 2013. This is just one of many new products that will launch. The company is still privately held. The business is still built on relationships and superior quality; attention to detail and exceptional value is still the foremost goal. We believe we have a real opportunity to differentiate ourselves by providing the best service in the industry. Because of that, SOR is putting a renewed focus on improving our response to special product requests that customers require, to fit a variety of applications.