The Geon® Story

A History of Innovation

Waldo Lonsbury Semon, wasn’t the inventor of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but he was the first to figure out how to make it useful. PVC had first been stumbled upon in Europe in the 1870s. But for 50 years, it was considered a waste material with no practical applications. Working in the labs of GEON Performance Solutions precursor company BFGoodrich, Semon was trying to dehydrohalogenate polyvinyl chloride in a high boiling solvent in order to obtain an unsaturated polymer that could bond rubber to metal. What he developed did exactly the opposite. Instead, Semon had discovered a method to plasticize PVC into a soft, rubbery material. For his invention, Semon received United States patents #1,929,453 and #2,188,396 for the “Synthetic Rubber-like Composition and Method of Making Same; Method of Preparing Polyvinyl Halide Products” – and the vinyl era was born.

Akron, Ohio-based BFGoodrich (named after Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich) introduced the first moldable PVC, called Koroseal, in 1930. Early applications included raincoats, umbrellas and shower curtains. Not soon after Koroseal was rolled out, BFGoodrich started using the brand name GEON for its PVC – a name that became synonymous with the versatile material in the years that followed. In 1993, BFGoodrich spun off its PVC business as a standalone company, called The GEON Company, and in 2000, the joining of The GEON Company and M.A. Hanna formed PolyOne – one of the world’s largest plastics-related businesses.

Akron, Ohio-based BFGoodrich (named after Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich) introduced the first moldable PVC, called Koroseal, in 1930. Early applications included raincoats, umbrellas and shower curtains. Not soon after Koroseal was rolled out, BFGoodrich started using the brand name GEON for its PVC – a name that became synonymous with the versatile material in the years that followed. In 1993, BFGoodrich spun off its PVC business as a standalone company, called The GEON Company and in 2000, the joining of The GEON Company and M.A. Hanna formed PolyOne – one of the world’s largest plastics-related businesses.

GEON Performance Solutions heritage in polyolefins and contract manufacturing go back to 1977 and the founding of Polycom by a scion of one of the plastics industry’s most prominent families – Ralph Andy. Polycom’s first product was a talc-filled polypropylene for the Harrison Radiator Corporation. After an investment by the Huntsman family (Huntsman-Polycom), the business was purchased by Spartech and became the Spartech Polycom Division. In 2013, the entirety of Spartech was purchased by PolyOne, and the polyolefins and contract manufacturing became a part of PolyOne’s Producer Services business.

The spirit of innovation and manufacturing excellence that started in Waldo Semon’s laboratory over 90 years ago is alive today in the company known as GEON Performance Solutions. The people of GEON would agree with Semon who is quoted as having said: “Innovation is not just one thing from one person. It is not just research. It is not just development. It is not just marketability. It is a combination of all these things and it’s a dedicated group of people all contributing to an idea.”

The spirit of innovation and manufacturing excellence that started in Waldo Semon’s laboratory over 90 years ago is alive today in the company known as GEON Performance Solutions. The people of GEON would agree with Semon who is quoted as having said: “Innovation is not just one thing from one person. It is not just research. It is not just development. It is not just marketability. It is a combination of all these things and it’s a dedicated group of people all contributing to an idea.”