By Eric Smith
Robert W. Gore, the inventor of the widely used fabric-waterproofing technology Gore-Tex — as well as W. L. Gore & Associates Inc. — died last week, the company said in a press release. He was 83.
Gore, who went by “Bob,” was chairman emeritus of the board of directors of Newark, Delaware-based W. L. Gore & Associates.
His “scientific discoveries spawned Gore-Tex Outerwear and paved the way for advancements in industries as varied as performance fabrics, medical devices, space exploration and filtration, assumed the chairman emeritus role in 2018 after 57 years of service on the Gore board, 30 of those as chairman,” the company said in its statement. “Bob also served as president of Gore from 1976 to 2000.”
Gore’s impact on the snowsports industry can’t be stressed enough. Gore-Tex gave winter outdoor enthusiasts a material innovation to keep them warm and dry on the slopes.
The company said of Gore’s signature invention: “Bob’s commitment to research and development led to his 1969 discovery of a versatile new polymer form, expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE). The introduction of this groundbreaking new material opened a world of possibilities for products and further innovations. The substance provided myriad new product applications including GORE-TEX® Fabrics, the world’s first waterproof breathable outerwear and a product that through the years has become synonymous with the outdoors.”
During his time as company president, Gore helped his namesake company became a billion-dollar “global materials science company dedicated to transforming industries and improving lives.”
When Gore reached $1 billion in annual revenue in 1996, Gore said, “We plan to leave a legacy to society and to future generations: infants with surgically reconstructed hearts that live because of our medical products; governments of free societies that are better able to protect themselves because of defense products; communities with cleaner and healthier environments because of our filtration and sealant products; And yes, people that just have more fun in the outdoors because of our Gore-Tex Outerwear.”
Gore now has more than 10,500 employees and generates annual revenues of $3.7 billion.
Photo courtesy Gore