Early Successes for Tetra|
Tetra's growth began in 1964, when F. Lee Hawes purchased Sycraft Plastics, a small company with two extruders, in University City. In 1965 it moved to nearby Maplewood and changed its name to Tetra Plastics. The Greek word for four, "Tetra" signifies the four values the company is built on: quality, service, innovation, and engineering.
In 1968 the company built a new plant in Chesterfield and developed an innovative extrusion process to produce expansion tubes for Combustion Engineering's use in nuclear power plant construction. That same year, Tetra engineered a process that applied hot melt adhesive to a square tube used as wing sticks on plastic kites.
In 1972 Tetra became the only U.S. company to successfully develop and manufacture plastic top surface, sidewall, internal parts, and base materials for the production of snow skis. Previously, all materials were supplied from Europe. The company also developed the original predecorated ABS plastic top for fiberglass water skis.
In 1981 Tetra began work with NIKE to develop the NIKE Airsole® cushioning system. A proprietary extrusion process was developed by Tetra engineers to produce the polyurethane film for the originals Airsoles® used in the early 1980s. In 1986 the company developed another proprietary process for production of a heel cushioning Airsole¥ that was visible through windows in the shoe. In 1991 Tetra developed a proprietary blow-molding process that produces an air system totally visible in the heel and creates maximum cushioning. Tetra is the only supplier of Airsole® cushioning materials to NIKE worldwide.
In 1991 when Hawes retired, NIKE purchased Tetra to ensure the company's continued support of NIKE Air®.
In Deep Water
Although solving problems is what Tetra did best, the Great Flood of 1993 presented a huge challenge. The company was faced with the physical damage to the Chesterfield plant and the possibility that production of NIKE Air® shoes might be forced to shut down, as well as other Tetra customers. Drawing on the strengths that had kept Tetra at the leading edge of its industry, the company set out to keep NIKE and its other customers' plants running.
After moving the equipment to a temporary leased plant in Earth City, restarting production required many innovations such as portable power generators, using ice cubes to cool process water until chillers could be rebuilt, etc. Initial production resumed just 27 days after the levee broke.
In 1995 Tetra move into a new 220,000 square foot plant located in the Missouri Research Park in St. Charles, just across the Missouri River from the old plant, a reminder of Tetra's longtime dedication to rising above the challenge.
In 1998 NIKE INC. officially changed the name from Tetra Plastics, to NIKE IHM, INC., a subsidiary of NIKE INC.
In 2000 NIKE IHM entered the new millennium with plans to triple the non-NIKE business volume within a few short years.