Another member of "the Greatest Generation" who made a serious impact on the automation industry has left us.
SOR Inc., manufacturer of pressure, level, temperature and flow measurement products, was founded by Roy Dunlap, who passed away April 25, 2013.
Roy Dunlap initially realized his dream of having his own commercial machine shop shortly after he left the Navy following World War II. Starting small with a grubstake of $2,000 and one employee, he opened the doors of MechniArts Associates in 1946 and began manufacturing the Tel-A-Dial – an attachment for platform scales used in feed stores. That machine shop was later named one of the top 10 machine shops in America, by American Machinist magazine.
The new company got its first big break, according to the SOR website, when a TWA (now American Airlines) employee told Dunlap that the varying widths of seats in their aircraft created a problem of having to carry and store different sized serving trays. Dunlop designed and built a single serving tray that adjusted to fit all the seats with a turn of a dial. TWA made his trays standard equipment.
Dunlap continued to search for ideas for a new product. Like many members of the Greatest Generation, he dreamed of creating something unique. He wanted to produce a product that would be the best in the world, that he could manufacture to ensure excellence of quality and service.
According to SOR's company history, in 1956 he came up with a product concept by listening to two men who had problems with their oil tanks overfilling. He decided to study existing pressure switches to learn why they weren’t accurate and then began developing his own.
To further develop his concept, Dunlap contacted Ben Brown, a physics professor at Kansas University. Together they created the Static-O-Ring. This simple but innovative design resulted in a switch of very high accuracy that, according to SOR's company history, would change the power generation and oil and gas industries forever.
In 1978, according to SOR's website, with the addition of new products, the company name was changed to SOR.
Roy remained involved in the business and on the Board of Directors until his passing. His daughter, Linda Dunlap, assumed the role of Chairman of the Board in 2010.
“He had a rich, full life and would have turned 91 in July,” said Dunlap’s daughter, SOR Chairman of the Board, Linda Dunlap. “My father touched the lives of many people and will be greatly missed, but his legacy continues on through the continued growth of the company that he loved so much.” she said.