CoorsTek, Inc.
Type Private
Industry Ceramics, Semiconductors
Founded Golden, Colorado, U.S. (1920)
Founder(s) Adolph Coors, Sr.
Headquarters Golden, CO, United States
Number of locations 44
Area served Worldwide
Key people John K. Coors, PhD, (CEO)
Products Industrial Ceramics
Services Ceramic powder processing, analytical laboratories
Revenue US$539.7 million (2000)
Owner(s) The Coors family
Employees 2900 (2007)
Divisions Structural Ceramics, Electronic Ceramics, Vehicle & Personal Armor
Subsidiaries C5 Medical Werks, DEW Engineering, EmiSense, SelectIon, CoorsTek Armor Solutions
Website CoorsTek, Inc.

CoorsTek, Inc. is a privately owned manufacturer of technical ceramics, semiconductor tooling, plastic tubing, medical devices and other industrial products. CoorsTek’s headquarters and primary factories are located in Golden, Colorado, USA, near the foothills west of Denver. The company is owned by a trust of the Coors family. The president and chairman is John K. Coors[1], a great-grandson of founder and brewing magnate Adolph Coors I.



Adolph Coors and John Herold

Rhineland-born Adolph Coors (1847–1929) opened the Colorado Glass Works in 1887 to manufacture beer bottles for his brewery, the Adolph Coors Brewing Company, west of Denver. In 1888, the glass works, incorporated as Coors, Binder & Co., was idled by a strike and never re-opened.[2] The Glass Works was leased to German-born John Herold in 1910, who incorporated the Herold China and Pottery Company on the site at 600 Ninth St in Golden.[3] Herold used clay from nearby mines to make dinnerware and heat-resistant porcelain ovenware under the trademark Herold Fireproof China. The now-abandoned clay pits form the western boundary of the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) campus. Adolph Coors became the majority stockholder and was elected to the board of directors of Herold China in 1912. John Herold resigned, and Adolph Coors Company acquired Herold China in 1914. Herold returned in 1914 to manage the plant, but left permanently in 1915. CSM evaluated Fireproof China for industrial applications in 1914, and found it suitable.[2] The company began producing chemical porcelain in 1915 as a result of a World War I embargo on German imports. Adolph Coors’ second son, Herman F. Coors, was named manager in 1916. Herold China was renamed Coors Porcelain Company in 1920, and the trademark “Coors U.S.A.” was first used. [4]

Rosebud china and Prohibition after WW1

After World War I, Coors Porcelain made fine china and cookware bearing the trademarks Rosebud, Glencoe Thermo-Porcelain, Coorado, Mello-Tone and others.[2] During Prohibition, the ceramic business was largely what kept the parent company afloat. The original factory site at 600 Ninth St in Golden was the only Coors Porcelain facility until the 1970s, and remained the company headquarters until a new facility was built northeast of Golden in the early 1990s. The 440,000 sq ft (41,000 m2) Ninth St plant consists of several adjoining buildings that occupy four square blocks, and is still CoorsTek’s largest manufacturing site. Herman Coors managed the company in the early days. Herman’s younger brother, Grover C. Coors, began the fledgling company’s foray into ceramic technology by inventing a tool for forming spark plug insulation in 1919.[5] Herman left in 1925 to start the H.F. Coors China Company, a manufacturer of dishes for restaurants and institutional use, in Inglewood, CA. The H.F. Coors Pottery's trademarks include Coorsite, Alox and Chefsware.[2]

Figure 1: CoorsTek ceramic products. All are glazed porcelain except C. A Fisher filtration funnel; B Buchner funnel; C 99.8% alumina crucible; D Dessicator plate; E Commemorative thimble-size stein for brewery visitors; F 95-mm diameter crucible rack.

Aluminum beer cans

In the 1950s, Coors Porcelain’s parent company investigated the possibility of replacing steel beverage cans with aluminum ones, as part of a closed-loop recycling system. The effort was the brainchild of W.K. “Bill” Coors, the second son of Adolph II. [6] A Porcelain warehouse at the corner of Ninth St and Washington Ave in Golden was selected to house the pilot plant for the aluminum can line. [7] The first aluminum beer can was produced at the site in January, 1959. B.L. “Bob” Mornin, a ceramic engineer at Coors Porcelain since 1954, was appointed manager of can production in 1963, and led it to profitability. [8] The can operation eventually outgrew the Porcelain building and moved into its present location east of the brewery in 1966. [8] Coors Brewing Company reorganized its can operations into a joint venture with the Ball Corp. in 2002, known as Rocky Mountain Metal Container LLC. CoorsTek began developing ceramic tooling for beverage can machinery in the 1990s.

On January 22, 2009, the original Coors can plant was named an ASM Historical Landmark by the Board of Trustees of ASM International, for its role in ushering in the age of recyclable aluminum beverage containers.[9] The date marked the 50th anniversary of Coors' first aluminum can. The building is on the southwest corner of the CoorsTek complex at 600 Ninth St in Golden.

Ceramic technology and company growth after WW2

The company gradually diversified its lines of technical ceramics before and especially after World War II. Coors greatly expanded its product lines, reduced scrap and accelerated production with the aid of cold isostatic pressing in the 1940s, tape casting and hot isostatic pressing in the 1950s, and multilayer ceramic capacitors in the 1960s. High-alumina (85 to 99.9% Al2O3) ceramics replaced porcelain in many thermomechanical, electrical and chemical applications. Coors engineers Vlad Wolkodoff[10] and Bob Weaver invented fully dense, glass-free 99.5+% Al2O3 ceramics in 1964, useful for many applications where porcelain is deficient.[11] Growth in the 1970s enabled Coors to build an electronic ceramics plant east of Golden in 1970, and its first facility outside of Golden, an electronic substrate plant in Grand Junction, CO, in 1975.[12] Coors made its first purchase of a competitor when it bought Wilbanks International Inc. (originally Far West Industrial Ceramics) of Hillsboro, OR, in 1973.[13] Another competitor, Alumina Ceramics Inc. of Benton, AR, was acquired in 1976.[14] Coors began making silicon carbide, silicon nitride, spinel, zirconia and several other ceramic products by the mid-1980s.

Figure 2: CoorsTek ceramic products. A Porcelain pestle; B Porcelain mortar; C Glazed porcelain casserole; D Glazed porcelain 100-mm long boat; E TTZ (toughened zirconia) putter[15]; F 99.8% alumina tray. Scale: the coin between E & F is a U.S. quarter.

The Joe Coors era

Joseph “Joe” Coors, Sr. (1917–2003), third son of Adolph II, joined Porcelain in 1940.[16] He was promoted to president in 1957, and became a member of the board of directors and an executive of Adolph Coors Company as well. Joe was named an Honorary Member of the American Ceramic Society in 1985.[17]

Coors Porcelain becomes Coors Ceramics

Coors Porcelain was renamed Coors Ceramics Company in 1986, shortly after Joseph Coors, Jr. (1942- ), succeeded R. Derald Whiting as president.[18] At that point, porcelain was only a small part of the 12-plant, 2200-employee company's output. High-alumina ceramics were and still are the company's bread and butter. Joe Jr., a mathematician and quality engineer, had been at Wilbanks 1973-84 and was its president 1980-84, and the vice-president for quality at Coors Porcelain 1984-5 prior to his promotion.[19]

Chaired professor and ceramic research at CSM

Janet Coors, widow of Herman Coors, endowed the Colorado Center for Advanced Ceramics (CCAC) at the Colorado School of Mines in 1988 with $2 million, and established the H.F. Coors Distinguished Professor of Ceramic Engineering chair.[20] Coors executive David G. Wirth, Jr., was appointed as the first director of CCAC. Dennis W. Readey left the Ohio State University to become the first Coors Professor and succeeded Wirth as director of CCAC.[21] Readey, a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), served as president of ACerS in 1991-2, and was named a Distinguished Life Member of ACerS in 2002.[22] Upon his retirement, Readey was succeeded as Coors Professor by Nigel Sammes, and as director of CCAC by Ivar Reimanis. W. Grover Coors, a brother of CoorsTek president John Coors, earned his Ph.D. at CSM and has been a research professor in CCAC.[23] John Coors earned his B.Sc. in chemical engineering at CSM in 1977.

The Coors empire separates

Adolph Coors Company became a holding company in 1989, with Coors Brewing Company as its largest subsidiary. The non-brewing subsidiaries were spun off at the end of 1992 under a new holding company, ACX Technologies, Inc., with Bill Coors as chairman of both holding companies.[16] The key subsidiaries of ACX were Coors Ceramics Co.; Graphic Packaging Corporation, with Joe Jr.’s younger brother J.H. “Jeff” Coors as chairman and president; Golden Technologies Company (GTC), a collection of R&D projects headed by a former Wilbanks executive; and Golden Aluminum Company, with Joe Jr. as its interim president.[24] Most of the ceramics-related GTC projects were folded into Coors Ceramics, while others were sold to investors or shut down with the demise of GTC in the late 1990s. Golden Aluminum was sold to Alcoa in 1997, and is now an independent remelter and rolling mill in Fort Lupton, CO. Graphic Pkg merged with Riverwood International Corp. in 2003 and moved its headquarters to Marietta, GA, but still has a plant in Golden and supplies paperboard packaging for Coors beer. ACX and Adolph Coors Co. had many common stockholders including the Coors family, but were otherwise entirely independent of one another. Coors Ceramics Co. was no longer affiliated with the Coors brewery. Coors Ceramics' headquarters moved from 600 Ninth St in Golden proper to a new building at 16000 Table Mountain Pkwy in an unincorporated area northeast of Golden.[25]

Acquisitions and diversification

In an effort to broaden its business beyond mostly structural and insulating ceramics, Coors Ceramics made several acquisitions in the late 1990s, especially of suppliers to the semiconductor industry. Coors acquired plastics manufacturer Tetrafluor Inc. of El Segundo, CA, in August 1997 for $15.8 million. Coors bought precision machine shops Edwards Enterprises of Newark, CA, and Precision Technologies of Livermore, CA, in March 1998 for $18M and $22M, respectively. Coors acquired ceramic maker Doo Young Semitek Co., Ltd., of Kyungbook, South Korea, for $3.6M in December 1999. Coors purchased machine shop Liberty Machine Inc. of Fremont, CA, for $4M in March 2000.[26] In 1993, Coors sold its ceramic subsidiaries in Ocean Springs, MS, and Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brazil.[24]

Coors Ceramics becomes CoorsTek

In 2000, ACX was dissolved and Coors Ceramics became an independent, publicly traded company under the name of CoorsTek, Inc.[27] CoorsTek was traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol CRTK. Joe Jr. retired as chairman and president of CoorsTek in 2000, and was succeeded by his younger brother John.[28] Keystone Holdings LLC, a trust of the Coors family, bought the stock it did not already own, and took the company private once again in 2003.[29]

Saint-Gobain acquisition

CoorsTek signed an agreement in June 2010 to buy the Advanced Ceramics division of the French conglomerate Saint-Gobain.[30],[31] The Saint-Gobain division employed 1200 workers worldwide, and 500 at six North American sites, at the time. CoorsTek gained ownership of several longtime competing brands, such as Cerbec Si3N4 bearings, Hexoloy SiC products, Solcera and Cerastat. The transaction was completed in January 2011, with CoorsTek assuming ownership of six plants in Europe; four in the USA; one each in Canada, Mexico and Brazil; and sales offices in Japan, China, Taiwan and Singapore. The acquisition gave CoorsTek a total of 44 facilities on four continents, and increased capabilities in SiC, Si3N4, mullite and steatite.[32]

Products and services

  • 99.8% alumina tubing, crucibles and thermocouple sheaths
  • Analytical laboratories specializing in ceramic products
  • Cera-Check beams for coordinate measuring machines
  • Ceramic armor
  • Ceramic powder preparation
  • Cera-Slide paper-making tooling
  • Coors USA laboratory wares
  • Cyclone liners and wear-resistant tiles for effluent separation and mineral dressing
  • Electronic substrates and ceramic dual in-line packages
  • Exhaust port liners and other engine components
  • Grinding media
  • Kiln furniture, heat exchangers, refractories
  • Metallized waveguides and stand-off insulators for electric power transmission and telecommunications
  • Micro-filtration devices for medical applications
  • Pump plungers and seal rings
  • Valve plates for washerless faucets
  • Wire-drawing capstans and dies
  • Zirconia oxygen sensors


Subsidiaries and Outlying Operations

Austin, Houston and Odessa, TX Petrochemical, oil and gas hardware
Benton, AR Formerly Alumina Ceramics, Inc.[33]
El Segundo, Fremont and Ventura, CA Formerly Tetrafluor, Inc., et al.
Glenrothes, Fife, Scotland Formerly VZS-Seagoe[34]
Glenrothes, Fife, Scotland Thick- and thin-film substrates[35]
Grand Junction, CO C5 Medical Werks
Grand Junction, CO Thick-film substrates
Gumi City, Korea CoorsTek Korea[36]
Hillsboro, OR Formerly Wilbanks International, Inc.
Kyungbook, Korea Formerly Doo Young Semitek Co., Ltd.
Oklahoma City, OK Formerly RI Ceramics Co.
Oak Ridge, TN Formerly Coors Technical Ceramics Co.[37]
Ottawa, ON, Canada DEW Engineering and Development Ltd.[38]
Red Deer, AB, Canada Petrochemical, oil and gas hardware
Salt Lake City, UT Ceramatec, Inc.[39]
Vista, CA Formerly BAE Systems[40]

Former subsidiaries

Alpha Optical Systems Inc. Ocean Springs, MS
Ceram[41],[42] El Cajon, CA
Ceramicon Designs Golden, CO
Cercom, Inc.[43] Vista, CA
Coban Industrial Ltda. Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
Coors Biomedical Co. Lakewood, CO
Coors Ceramics Asia-Pacific Singapore
Coors Components, Inc.[44] Broomfield, CO
Coors Electronic Package Co.[45] Chattanooga, TN
Coors Optical Systems Co.[46] Golden, CO
Humphreys Investment Co. Denver, CO
MicroLithics Corp. Golden, CO
Resistant Materials Systems, Inc./Coors Wear Products, Inc.[47] Lawrence, PA
Royal Worcester Industrial Ceramics, Ltd. Tonyrefail, Wales


  • Adolph Coors I (1920-1929)
  • Adolph Coors II (1929-1947)
  • H.W. Ryland[48] (1948-1957)
  • Joe Coors, Sr. (1957-1972)
  • R. Derald Whiting (1972-1985)
  • Joe Coors, Jr. (1985–1992, 1997-2000)
  • James Wade (1992-1997)
  • John K. Coors (2000- 2004)
  • Derek Johnson (2004 - 2005)
  • John K. Coors (2005 - )

External links


  1. ^ "Profiles of Leadership," Ceramic Industry, December 1, 2005.
  2. ^ a b c d R.H. Schneider, Coors Rosebud Pottery, First Edition, Busche-Waugh-Henry Publications, 1984, ISBN 0-931511-01-1, p 10-19.
  3. ^ Chemical Porcelain Ware by Coors: The Evolution of a Lump of Clay, Coors Porcelain Co., 1935, p 2-3.
  4. ^ "Coors Ceramics, A Diverse Operation in the ‘90s," Ceramic Industry, Oct 1994, p 47-51.
  5. ^ G.C. Coors, “Apparatus for Forming Spark-Plug Insulators,” US Patent No. 1 362 926, Dec 1920.
  6. ^ F.L. Church, “Man of the Year: William K. Coors,” Modern Metals, January 1960, p 88–98.
  7. ^ G. Walker, “Environmental Stewardship Amid Rapid Growth at CoorsTek,” American Ceramic Society Bulletin, V85 #5, May 2008, p 26-29.
  8. ^ a b B.M. Conny, A Catalyst for Change, A. Coors Co., 1990, p 39 & 51-53.
  9. ^ G. Krauss, "CoorsTek Honored as Historical Landmark of ASM International," Advanced Materials & Processes, V167 #3, Mar 2009, p 49-50.
  10. ^ Ceramic Bulletin, V48, #4, Apr 1969, p 373.
  11. ^ V.E. Wolkodoff & R.E. Weaver, “Alumina Ceramic,” US Patent No. 3 377 176, Apr 1968.
  12. ^ "Coors Plans Colorado Plant," Ceramic Industry, Vol 103, #2, Aug 1974, p 10.
  13. ^ "Coors Acquires Ceramic Firm," Ceramic Industry, Vol 100, #4, Apr 1973, p 20.
  14. ^ J. Coors, Jr., "President's Corner," White Gold Employee Newsletter, April 1987.
  15. ^ "Coors Develops Ceramic Putter," Ceramic Bulletin, V67, #8, Aug 1988, p 1273-4.
  16. ^ a b D. Baum, Citizen Coors, William Morrow, 2000, ISBN 0-688-15448-4, p 25 & 338.
  17. ^ "Honorary Membership to Coors, Kelley, Warren," Ceramic Bulletin, Vol 64, #3, Mar 1985, p 403.
  18. ^ "Coors Porcelain to Coors Ceramics," Ceramic Bulletin, V66, #8, Aug 1987, p 1177.
  19. ^ "Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders," ACX Technologies, Inc., 17 May 1994, p 3.
  20. ^ "Coors Ceramics and CSM Form Center at CO School of Mines," Ceramic Bulletin, V67, #6, Jun 1988, p 957.
  21. ^ Ceramic Bulletin, V68, #6, Jun 1989, p 1149.
  22. ^ "Honors and Awards," Ceramic Bulletin, V81, #7, Jul 2002, p 50.
  23. ^ Dept of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, cited 17 Sep 2009.
  24. ^ a b "1993 Annual Report," ACX Technologies, Inc., p 24 & 33.
  25. ^ "Corporate Member Profiles," Ceramic Bulletin, V67, #11, Nov 1988, p 1745.
  26. ^ Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements (SEC annual stock report), CoorsTek, Inc., 2000.
  27. ^ C. Grahl, "Investing in Ceramics - CoorsTek: A Strong Player in High-Tech Markets," Ceramic Industry, June 1, 2001.
  28. ^ "Coors Announces His Retirement," Denver Business Journal, 10 Oct 2000.
  29. ^ "CoorsTek Signs Merger Agreement with Keystone," Ceramic Industry, January 8, 2003.
  30. ^ "CoorsTek to Acquire Saint-Gobain Advanced Ceramics," Ceramic Bulletin, Vol 89, #6, Aug 2010, p 3.
  31. ^ "CoorsTek Enters Agreement to Acquire Saint-Gobain Advanced Ceramics," Ceramic Industry, 29 June 2010.
  32. ^ "CoorsTek Completes Saint-Gobain Advanced Ceramics Acquisition," Ceramic Industry, 11 January 2011.
  33. ^ "Johnson Founds Firm," Ceramic Bulletin, V50, #6, Jun 1971, p 591.
  34. ^ "CoorsTek Expands Presence in Europe," Ceramic Industry, March 21, 2006.
  35. ^ "Coors Porcelain Opens Subsidiary in Scotland," Ceramic Bulletin, V61, #2, Feb 1982, p 268.
  36. ^ "CoorsTek Expands Korean Facility," Ceramic Industry, August 18, 2003.
  37. ^ "Coors Ceramics Plans Oak Ridge Location," Ceramic Bulletin, V68, #10, Oct 1989, p 1766.
  38. ^ "CoorsTek Acquires DEW Engineering and Development," Ceramic Industry, June 12, 2008.
  39. ^ J.P. Hasler, "The Key to the Battery-Powered House: Q&A with Ceramatec," Popular Mechanics, October 20, 2009.
  40. ^ "CoorsTek Acquires BAE Systems’ Advanced Ceramics Business," Ceramic Industry, 21-Sep-2011.
  41. ^ "Coors Receives Vendor Award," Ceramic Industry, Vol 118, #7, July 1982, p 14.
  42. ^ "Coors Division Markets Grinding Wheels," Ceramic Bulletin, V61, #8, Aug 1982, p 793.
  43. ^ "Coors Holds Interest in Cercom," Ceramic Bulletin, V68, #2, Feb 1989, p 319.
  44. ^ "Coors Buys Siemens Division," Ceramic Bulletin, Vol 65, #6, June 1986, p 814.
  45. ^ "CoorsTek Signs Letter of Intent for Sale of Chattanooga Plant," Ceramic Industry, October 16, 2001.
  46. ^ "Coors Creates Optical Subsidiary," Ceramic Bulletin, V68, #3, Mar 1989, p 480.
  47. ^ "Coors Ceramics Acquires RMS," Ceramic Bulletin, V67, #6, Jun 1988, p 954.
  48. ^ "H.W. Ryland Retires," Ceramic Bulletin, V36, #3, Mar 1957, p 26.

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