Uniroyal Holding Company History
The company known today as Uniroyal Holding, Inc. has changed names and ownership several times since its inception, which dates all the way back to 1874. In that year, the Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturing Company opened its doors on a 43-acre piece of land in Mishawaka, Indiana. In 1922, the company became a subsidiary of the United States Rubber Company and began manufacturing Ball Band rubber footwear and other products at the same location. In 1967 the company changed its name again, this time to Uniroyal, Inc. Its Mishawaka factory site was built up significantly over these years, and by the time the factory ceased operations in 1997, it housed 58 buildings and employed 10,000 people. Uniroyal Holding’s headquarters is listed in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Products Manufactured by Uniroyal Holding, Inc. that Contained Asbestos
From 1941 to 1976, Uniroyal’s predecessor, the United States Rubber Company, manufactured an asbestos cloth under the name of “Asbeston.” Asbeston was a lightweight lagging cloth, a type of fabric that was sometimes used to repair or cover insulation, and it was frequently sold in great quantities to shipyards. For example, a single shipyard near Puget Sound, Washington, bought thousands of pounds of the cloth per year between the years of 1958 and 1960, court records show.
When Asbeston was installed, repaired or replaced, it was frequently ripped or cut down to size to fit a certain location; as it aged, it tended to grow brittle and break down. At these times, the fabric released tiny, chrysotile asbestos particles that hung in the air and became attached to workers’ clothing, shoes and hair. Workers who handled Asbeston have recalled going home at night with their clothing covered in a fine dust from the product.
They didn’t know it at the time, but that dust was putting them – and their loved ones – at a serious health risk. Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is comprised of long, thin, crystalline fibers that, when inhaled, can become embedded in a person’s lung tissue and plant the seed for deadly diseases like emphysema, asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer. Unfortunately, companies in the U.S. began using asbestos regularly in the late 1800s, and it wasn’t until a century later, in the 1970s, that the mineral’s health risks were fully understood. In the interim – especially during the highly productive years of World War II – millions of regular, unsuspecting people were exposed.
Products manufactured by Uniroyal Holding, Inc. or its predecessors that contained asbestos include, but are not limited to:
- “Asbeston” asbestos cloth
Occupations at Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Shipyard workers and veterans were two of the occupations most affected by asbestos exposure overall, and sadly, this is again the case with Uniroyal’s products. Workers who handled, installed, repaired or tore down Asbeston paper aboard ships were at a very high risk for exposure. This includes shipyard workers who worked aboard vessels as they were being built or serviced, as well as sailors and deckhands who maintained ships while they were at sea. Individuals who worked at Uniroyal (then known as the United States Rubber Company) manufacturing plants could also have been exposed.
It can take an exceptionally long time for symptoms of mesothelioma cancer to begin to appear in the human body, so a person who was exposed to asbestos decades ago may just be starting to show symptoms today. Both men and women are at risk, but smoking greatly increases the likelihood of diagnosis. If you or someone you know may have been exposed to asbestos, take the time to learn about the risk factors and treatment options today.
In February 2009, a federal judge decided that Uniroyal could not be not responsible for the environmental clean-up of its former factory grounds in Mishawaka, Indiana. The city of Mishawaka had filed a lawsuit in 2004 requesting $9 million to clean the site, which had been a site for manufacturing for more than a century.
As of May 2011, numerous lawsuits have been filed against Uniroyal by plaintiffs who say they suffered ill health because of exposure to asbestos in the company’s products.Sources
“City of Mishawaka and Uniroyal Holding Inc. Reach Settlement”
“Mishawaka Loses Uniroyal Lawsuit”