Wilsonart is a global manufacturer and distributor of High Pressure Laminates and other engineered composite materials, used in furniture, office and retail space, countertops, worktops and other applications. Headquartered in Temple, Texas, Wilsonart was founded by Ralph Wilson Sr. in 1956. The company sells decorative laminates and other engineered surfaces under the Wilsonart brand and international brands Arborite, Polyrey, and Resopal. Wilsonart founder Ralph Wilson moved to Texas to retire after suffering a heart attack in the early 1950s. Instead, he was encouraged by American Desk owner Arthur P. Brashear, Sr., to open a laminate company next door to American Desk’s school desk factory in Temple, Texas. He did, forming Ralph Wilson Plastics Company (RWP), later Wilsonart International, in 1956. At the time there were 16 competitors in the decorative laminate industry, including Formica, which held 65% of the market. RWP became a publicly held corporation in 1964 with an initial offering of 290,000 shares at $15.
In 1960, Dr. Ralph Wilson, Jr. left his dental practice in Los Angeles and moved to Temple to join RWP as Executive Vice President. Upon the death of his father, he became President of RWP, and served on the board of directors of Dart until its merger with Kraft Inc. in 1986. When Premark International was created as a spinoff of Dart and Kraft, he was named group vice-president of the company, and president of the decorative products group. He retired in 1989. Bill Reeb served as president of Wilsonart from 1995 to 2005. During his time as president, the company doubled its revenue. He formalized the mission of the company and put it in simple terms: “Serve the Customer. Serve the Enterprise. Serve the People”.