LOS ANGELES (Oct. 10, 2003) — Pioneering rubber recycling firm Atlos Rubber Inc. has auctioned off its entire inventory of equipment after 64 years in business.
Founded in 1939 by Irving Winters, Atlos fell prey to a number of factors, especially the influx into California of cheap subsidized crumb rubber from British Columbia, according to Robert E. (Bob) Winters, son of the founder and the company's current president and CEO.
Bob Winters put Atlos up for sale nearly two years ago but could not find a buyer. “We had several good bites, but when you're losing money it's not easy to sell a business,” said Mr. Winters, who has been active in the firm since 1957. “It would have taken a lot of money to turn it around, and that didn't appeal to the prospective buyers.”
Ken Winters, Bob Winters' son and Atlos' executive vice president and chief operating officer, was unable to buy the firm.
Atlos owns a 40,000-sq.-ft. headquarters, manufacturing and warehouse facility on a 1.78-acre site in East Los Angeles County, and also has a 2.5-acre storage yard in nearby Rialto, Calif. Bob Winters hasn't yet decided whether to sell or lease the property.
The company takes retread tire buffings, truck tire tread peelings and industrial scrap, and grinds them for use in athletic surfaces, equestrian arenas, non-skid surfacing material and molded rubber products.
In 2002, the firm employed 35 and had annual production capacity of more than 50 million pounds of rubber.
Until recently, Atlos was also a major power in the asphalt rubber business. Besides supplying crumb rubber to asphalt rubber manufacturers, Bob Winters was the founder of Overflex Corp., which developed practical and commercial applications for the “McDonald wet process” for manufacturing rubberized asphalt.
A founding member and president of the Asphalt Rubber Producers Group, Mr. Winters also played a leading role in its successor, the Rubber Pavements Association. But eventually “it became so competitive that we couldn't make money selling to that market,” he said.
Ken Winters has already received several potential offers from various companies, according to Bob Winters. As for himself, he said he was willing to entertain any offers for consulting work. “But the first thing I plan to do is hit more golf balls than I have for a long time,” he said.
Bob Winters also will continue to pursue his love of music, particularly jazz.
In the early 1950s he played saxophone in several big bands, including those led by Benny Goodman, Billy May and Freddy Martin, and still sits in at jazz clubs with musician friends.
“I don't play for money any- more, but I still belong to the Musicians' Union,” he said. “That way, when I sit in with my friends, I won't get in trouble.”