Inspired by a display of disposable diapers at a local drugstore, Craig Rubin spent years developing Crypton Super Fabric, a stain-resistant, waterproof, and decorative upholstery fabric that could withstand the rigors of heavy public use. Today, Crypton is one of the most sought-after fabric brands in health care and hospitality. Some 20 million yards have been installed in less than 10 years—from Buckingham Palace to McDonald's.
CEO, Hi-Tex Inc.
West Bloomfield, Michigan
FROM CRAIG'S ORIGINAL ENTRY:
Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does) and the specific challenge you faced.
I am Craig Rubin and I created Crypton Super Fabric. For years I was selling textiles into the contract world that was continually frustrated with laminated, vinyl fabrics that were difficult to upholster and would crack and peel in use. No one really likes to sit on furniture that is hot, sticky, and uncomfortable and looks institutional. My customers were requesting decorative fabrics that in reality would not withstand the rigors of heavy public use. For places like hospitals and restaurants, in addition to stain resistance, a barrier to protect the cushion was required and the only option was vinyl. I was selling products that people did not really like, but there was no other option. My challenge was to create the beautiful textile that my customers wanted but did not exist. I had a clear vision of what the market wanted, but not the technical background to create it.
What was your moment of truth?
My moment of truth occurred at a drugstore when I saw a display of disposable diapers. There it was—an item that was a barrier, dry to the skin, breathable, had a decorative face and PERFORMED. My vision of the perfect fabric was right in front of me. There I was with no technical expertise and limited capital. I had to find out how to do this. The diaper people weren't going to tell me their secret. For many years, I worked on this project and had numerous failures. In 1992, I met my wife Randy. With her research and marketing background she helped me realize my vision. We followed one lead to the next and eventually realized that I could in fact make a fabric perform like no other fabric on earth. Everything in life is a risk—if I wanted to birth my invention, Randy and I agreed that I had to quit my job, risk our money and spend my time developing my dream fabric. We chose the name Crypton® because we had developed a super fabric. Everyone associates strength with the guy in the red cape and the planet he comes from. (The exact date? 8/13/1990)
What were the results?
In less than 10 years, Crypton is the most sought after brand in healthcare and hospitality. Generating more than $90 million in sales, with more than 20 million yards installed around the world, we have licensed our technology to nine of the largest U.S. textile mills. Today, people are sitting comfortably on Crypton from McDonald's to Buckingham Palace, as well as Disney, Marriott, Hyatt and numerous health care facilities. Recently adopted by Bloomingdale's for its performance and good looks, even the U.S. government has realized the strength and value in Crypton and has specified it in a number of their installations. Six patents surround Crypton.
What's your parting tip?
You may have a great idea, but if you are not willing to risk, you will never be successful.