W. L. Gore & Associates

Last updated
W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
Type Private
Founders Bill Gore and Vieve Gore
Headquarters Newark, Delaware, United States
Key people
Bret Snyder, Chairman of the Board/President/CEO [1]
Revenue$4.5 billion (2022) [2]
Number of employees
12,000 (2022) [2]
Website www.gore.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. is an American multinational manufacturing company specializing in products derived from fluoropolymers. It is a privately held corporation headquartered in Newark, Delaware. It is best known as the developer of waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex fabrics.



The company was founded in 1958 by Wilbert (Bill) Lee Gore and his wife Genevieve (Vieve) Walton Gore in Newark. Bill Gore had spent 16 years with the DuPont Company in a number of technical positions that included fluoropolymer research when he decided to form his own company. While working in his basement, he set out to develop a process for insulating a series of parallel electrical wires using polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a fluoropolymer discovered in 1938 by Roy Plunkett, a chemist with DuPont. [3] His son, Robert W. Gore, in college at the time, suggested a method for encapsulating the wires which proved successful and led to the company's first patent. The resulting product was called Multi-Tet cable, a multi-conductor ribbon cable used in computers, communications, and process control equipment. [4]

Bob Gore joined the company in 1963 upon completion of a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota. In 1969, he was researching a process for stretching extruded PTFE into pipe thread tape when he discovered that the polymer could be "expanded." The discovery followed a series of unsuccessful experiments in which he was attempting to stretch rods of PTFE by about 10%. As it turned out, the right conditions for stretching PTFE were counterintuitive. Instead of slowly stretching the heated material, he applied a sudden, accelerating yank that unexpectedly caused it to stretch about 800%. This resulted in the transformation of the solid PTFE into a microporous structure that was about 70% air. The company initially referred to this new material as "fibrillated PTFE". One year later, it was given the name of "Gore-Tex expanded PTFE". [5] Today, expanded PTFE (ePTFE) accounts for the vast majority of the company's products.

In 1985, Bill Gore received the Prince Philip Award for Polymers in the Service of Mankind, which honored Gore's Medical Products Division. The award is given in recognition of polymers that have provided a significant service for mankind. In 2005, the Society of Chemical Industry presented Bob Gore with the Perkin Medal, which recognizes the most significant achievements in applied chemistry. In 2006, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame [6] for the invention of ePTFE. [7]

Charles Carroll, a long-term business leader in the Electronics and Fabrics Divisions, replaced Bob Gore as president in 2000. Terri Kelly, who joined Gore in 1983 as a mechanical engineer in the Fabrics Division, became president in 2005. [8] Jason Field replaced Kelly in 2018. [1] Bret Snyder replaced Field in 2020. [9] The company remains privately held.

Allegations of anti-competitive practices

During the 2010s, W. L. Gore & Associates was investigated by authorities in the European Union and by the Federal Trade Commission in the United States amid allegations that the company had bullied outdoor equipment manufacturers away from competing products, thereby restricting fair trade and competition.

The US investigation sought to determine whether Gore engaged in unfair methods of competition “by contracts, exclusionary practices, or other conduct relating to waterproof or waterproof and breathable membranes or technologies and related products.”

In Europe, the outdoor brand Columbia and its brand OutDry filed a complaint that Gore violated EU anti-competition laws covering waterproof/breathable membranes in footwear and gloves. [10]


From 1984 to 2017, W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. earned a position on Fortune magazine's annual list of the U.S. "100 Best Companies to Work For." [11] Its European operations have also earned similar honors. [11]

Gore's culture evolved from the company's success with small teams during its early years. This approach to business was based on Bill Gore's experience tackling problems with "task force teams" while he was employed at the DuPont Company. They were usually multidisciplinary operated for short periods of time outside the company's formal management hierarchy.

Bill Gore presented the concept of a "lattice" organization to Gore associates in 1967. He refined this to "culture principles" in a paper entitled "The Lattice Organization – A Philosophy of Enterprise", which was distributed to Gore associates in 1976. [12]

He proposed a flat, lattice-like organizational structure where everyone shares the same title of "associate." There are neither chains of command nor predetermined channels of communication. Leaders replace the idea of "bosses." Associates choose to follow leaders rather than have bosses assigned to them. Associate contribution reviews are based on a peer-level rating system.

He articulated four culture principles that he called freedom, fairness, commitment and waterline:

In the lattice organization, associates are encouraged to communicate directly with each other and are accountable to fellow members of their teams. Hands-on product innovation and prototyping are encouraged. Teams typically organize around opportunities, new product concepts, or businesses. As teams evolve, leaders frequently emerge as they gain followership. This unusual organizational structure and culture has been shown to be a significant contributor to associate satisfaction and retention. [13]

This corporate culture was highlighted in Malcolm Gladwell's 2000 book, The Tipping Point and in Brian Carney and Isaac Getz's 2009 book, Freedom, Inc. [14] [15] [16] [17] . The company was also depicted as one of several organizations denoted "Teal" organizations in Frederic Laloux's 2014 book Reinventing Organizations .

Today, the lattice organization principle is known as open allocation.

Product portfolio

Vapour-sealed data cables for aviation applications Passenger Experience Week 2018, Hamburg (1X7A3733).jpg
Vapour-sealed data cables for aviation applications

Gore's product line builds around a core material set using expanded PTFE and other fluoropolymers. PTFE has a combination of properties well suited to high performance applications. Some of those properties are

In addition to these properties, PTFE is very soft and mechanically weak, which can be a disadvantage in certain applications. However, Gore has developed capabilities using forms of expanded PTFE with engineered microstructures that can significantly increase its strength and durability. Other Gore capabilities enable different materials to be incorporated into the ePTFE microstructure, such as catalysts and antimicrobial agents. This leads to products that can extend the inherent properties of PTFE, such as gas diffusion membranes with chemical reactivity.

Gore's product portfolio derives from a number of basic ePTFE forms that include tubes, fibers, tapes, membranes and custom shapes, such as gaskets and patches. Extreme performance testing and reliability are important steps in the development process.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Polytetrafluoroethylene</span> Synthetic polymer

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene that has numerous applications. It is one of the best-known and widely applied PFAS. The commonly known brand name of PTFE-based composition is Teflon by Chemours, a spin-off from DuPont, which originally discovered the compound in 1938.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Neoprene</span> Family of synthetic rubbers

Neoprene is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene. Neoprene exhibits good chemical stability and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range. Neoprene is sold either as solid rubber or in latex form and is used in a wide variety of commercial applications, such as laptop sleeves, orthopaedic braces, electrical insulation, liquid and sheet-applied elastomeric membranes or flashings, and automotive fan belts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gore-Tex</span> Trademark for a waterproof, breathable fabric

Gore-Tex is a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane and registered trademark of W. L. Gore & Associates. Invented in 1969, Gore-Tex can repel liquid water while allowing water vapor to pass through and is designed to be a lightweight, waterproof fabric for all-weather use. It is composed of stretched polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is more commonly known by the generic trademark Teflon. The material is formally known as the generic term expanded PTFE (ePTFE).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Perfluorooctanoic acid</span> Perfluorinated carboxylic acid

Perfluorooctanoic acid is a perfluorinated carboxylic acid produced and used worldwide as an industrial surfactant in chemical processes and as a material feedstock. PFOA is considered a surfactant, or fluorosurfactant, due to its chemical structure, which consists of a perfluorinated, n-octyl "tail group" and a carboxylate "head group". The head group can be described as hydrophilic while the fluorocarbon tail is both hydrophobic and lipophobic.

A fluoropolymer is a fluorocarbon-based polymer with multiple carbon–fluorine bonds. It is characterized by a high resistance to solvents, acids, and bases. The best known fluoropolymer is polytetrafluoroethylene under the brand name "Teflon," trademarked by the DuPont Company.

Early Winters, Ltd. of Seattle, Washington, United States was founded in 1972 by William S. Nicolai, who formed the company after creating a tent called the Omnipotent. Early Winters was the first company to create and sell a consumer product made with Gore-Tex laminates produced by W. L. Gore & Associates in Elkton, Maryland. The first product made with Gore-Tex fabric debuted in 1976 and was a streamlined, two-person tent called The Light Dimension. The tent was created by Nicolai and William H. Edwards and was marketed by Ron Zimmerman.

Wilbert Lee "Bill" Gore was an American engineer and scientist, inventor and businessman who co-founded W. L. Gore and Associates with his wife, Genevieve (Vieve).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Waterproof fabric</span> Textile that resists moisture penetration through its construction, inherent materials or finish

Waterproof fabrics are fabrics that are, inherently, or have been treated to become, resistant to penetration by water and wetting. The term "waterproof" refers to conformance to a governing specification and specific conditions of a laboratory test method. They are usually natural or synthetic fabrics that are laminated or coated with a waterproofing material such as rubber, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane (PU), silicone elastomer, fluoropolymers, and wax. Treatment could be either of the fabric during manufacture or of completed products after manufacture, for instance by a waterproofing spray. Examples include the rubberized fabric used in Mackintosh jackets, sauna suits and inflatable boats.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Durable water repellent</span> Fabric finish

Durable water repellent, or DWR, is a coating added to fabrics at the factory to make them water-resistant (hydrophobic). Most factory-applied treatments are fluoropolymer based; these applications are quite thin and not always effective. Durable water repellents are commonly used in conjunction with waterproof breathable fabrics such as Gore-Tex to prevent the outer layer of fabric from becoming saturated with water. This saturation, called 'wetting out,' can reduce the garment's breathability and let water through. As the DWR wears off over time, re-treatment is recommended when necessary. Many spray-on and wash-in products for treatment of non-waterproof garments and re-treatment of proofed garments losing their water-repellency are available.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fluorinated ethylene propylene</span>

Fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) is a copolymer of hexafluoropropylene and tetrafluoroethylene. It differs from the polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) resins in that it is melt-processable using conventional injection molding and screw extrusion techniques. Fluorinated ethylene propylene was invented by DuPont and is sold under the brandname Teflon FEP. Other brandnames are Neoflon FEP from Daikin or Dyneon FEP from Dyneon/3M.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">SympaTex</span>

SympaTex is a type of fabric that is branded as waterproof but "breathable", made or licensed by SympaTex Technologies GmbH a company founded in 1986. The fabric features a waterproof, windproof and breatheable membrane that is laminated to fabrics either on its inner surface or sandwiched between two fabric layers. The latter system offers greater durability, by better protecting the integrity of the SympaTex layer from abrasion to both the outside and the inside of the garment.

Windstopper is a windproof breathable fabric laminate made by W. L. Gore & Associates. One of its most common applications is a lamination with polar fleece, to compensate for fleece's lack of wind resistance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ECTFE</span> Chemical compound

ECTFE (ethylenechlorotrifluoroethylene) is a copolymer of ethylene and chlorotrifluoroethylene. It is a semi-crystalline fluoropolymer designed to provide chemical resistance in heavy-duty corrosion applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert W. Gore</span> American scientist and businessman (1937–2020)

Robert W. Gore was an American engineer and scientist, inventor and businessman. Gore led his family's company, W. L. Gore & Associates, in developing applications of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) ranging from computer cables to medical equipment to the outer layer of space suits. His most significant breakthrough was likely the invention of Gore-Tex, a waterproof and breathable fabric popularly known for its use in sporting and outdoor gear.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Non-stick surface</span> Coating that prevents sticking

A non-stick surface is engineered to reduce the ability of other materials to stick to it. Non-stick cookware is a common application, where the non-stick coating allows food to brown without sticking to the pan. Non-stick is often used to refer to surfaces coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a well-known brand of which is Teflon. In the twenty-first century, other coatings have been marketed as non-stick, such as anodized aluminium, silica, enameled cast iron, and seasoned cookware.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mountain Hardwear</span> American outdoor apparel company

Mountain Hardwear is a subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear based in Richmond, California that manufactures and distributes apparel, accessories and equipment primarily for the high performance needs of mountaineering enthusiasts and outdoor athletes, as well as for consumers who are inspired by the outdoor lifestyle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oral-B Glide</span> Dental floss brand

Oral-B Glide is a PTFE (Teflon) dental floss manufactured by W. L. Gore and Associates exclusively for Procter & Gamble.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fluorochemical industry</span> Industry dealing with chemicals from fluorine

The global market for chemicals from fluorine was about US$16 billion per year as of 2006. The industry was predicted to reach 2.6 million metric tons per year by 2015. The largest market is the United States. Western Europe is the second largest. Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region of production. China in particular has experienced significant growth as a fluorochemical market and is becoming a producer of them as well. Fluorite mining was estimated in 2003 to be a $550 million industry, extracting 4.5 million tons per year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of fluorine</span> Aspect of history

Fluorine is a relatively new element in human applications. In ancient times, only minor uses of fluorine-containing minerals existed. The industrial use of fluorite, fluorine's source mineral, was first described by early scientist Georgius Agricola in the 16th century, in the context of smelting. The name "fluorite" derives from Agricola's invented Latin terminology. In the late 18th century, hydrofluoric acid was discovered. By the early 19th century, it was recognized that fluorine was a bound element within compounds, similar to chlorine. Fluorite was determined to be calcium fluoride.

Open allocation refers to a style of management in which employees are given a high degree of freedom in choosing what projects to work on, and how to allocate their time. They do not necessarily answer to a single manager, but to the company and their peers. They can transfer between projects regardless of headcount allowances, performance reviews, or tenure at the company, as long as they are providing value to projects that are useful to the business goals of the company. Open allocation has been described as a process of self-organization. Rather than teams and leadership arrangements existing permanently in a company, such relationships form as they are needed and disband when they are no longer necessary. Additionally, open allocation implies that projects are not unilaterally created and staffed by executive mandate. Rather, the person forming the project is responsible for convincing others to invest their time, energy, and careers into the effort.


  1. 1 2 "Bret Snyder Named President & Chief Executive Officer of W. L. Gore & Associates" (Press release). W. L. Gore & Associates. October 6, 2020. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  2. 1 2 "The Gore Story > Overview". W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  3. DuPont's trade name for PTFE is Teflon
  4. USpatent 3082292,Gore, Robert W.,"Multiconductor Wiring Strip",published March 19, 1963.
  5. Gore, Robert W. The Early Days of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. (Newark, DE: Published by the Author, 2008): 90-95. In the collection of the Archives of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., Newark, DE.
  6. "Inductees: Robert W. Gore". National Inventors Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  7. USpatent 4187390,Gore, Robert W.,"Porous products and process therefor",published February 5, 1980.
  8. Caulkin, Simon (November 2, 2008). "Simon Caulkin talks to WL Gore CEO, Terri Kelly". The Guardian. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  9. "Bret Snyder Named President & Chief Executive Officer of W. L. Gore & Associates". W. L. Gore & Associates. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  10. "W.L. Gore facing legal scrutiny on two continents for unfair trade practices". Outsidebusinessjournal.com. 2011-06-12. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  11. 1 2 "W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc". Great Place to Work. September 11, 2017. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  12. Gore 2008: 129.
  13. Hamel, Gary and Bill Breen. The Future of Management. (Boston: The Harvard Business School Press, 2007): 83-100.
  14. Brian Carney and Isaac Getz. Freedom, Inc.: Free Your Employees and Let Them Lead Your Business to Higher Productivity, Profits, and Growth. (New York: Crown Business/Random House, 2009; revised edition, Argo Navis/Perseus Books, 2016).
  15. "Bill Gore's Formula for Failure". Strategy+Business. Autumn 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
  16. "How Labor Is Liberated". Wall Street Journal. October 16, 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  17. "Capitalist Liberation". Forbes. Carl J. Schramm. Retrieved 24 March 2023.