Abrasive Technology, with headquarters in Lewis Center, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Abrasive Technology, with headquarters in Lewis Center, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The company, 8400 Green Meadows Drive North, manufactures grinding wheels and tools. The products are used in the dental, aerospace, stone-cutting and electronic industries, to name a few, said company president and founder Loyal Peterson Jr., of Dublin.

The company is "shaping the world around us," said Daryl Peterman of Columbus, a leadership team member and shareholder in the company.

The phrase, "shaping the world around us" is an internal campaign the company uses to remind employees of the impact of their daily efforts.

"The Waterford crystal ball that came down in Times Square in 2000 was ground with our diamond wheels," said Loyal Peterman. "The black tiles on the outside of the space shuttle were ground with tools I designed. When the Statue of Liberty was refurbished, our grinding wheels were used. The stones for Olympic curling are ground with our diamond wheels. Our tools were used on the Hubble telescope and the whale pool at the San Diego Zoo. (Dale) Chihuly uses our product to grind some of his glass (artwork)."

The company's process of welding diamonds to steel, called brazing, was patented in 1975 and was a "game-changer" in the field, he said.

"We added a new bonding technology to what was available," Loyal Peterman said. "Our patent was the most looked-at patent in the diamond industry for 20 years, and now that the 20-year patent expired, the process is used around the world by almost every diamond manufacturer."

A steel drill put into materials that are abrasive might wear out in minutes, said Loyal Peterman, but the company's patented diamond drill lasts through a million pieces.

Abrasive Technology's products are cost-effective and more environmentally friendly, said Daryl Peterman, who is Loyal's son.

Though Loyal Peterman has been the sole owner of the company since 1992, he and three partners started it in 1971 with a product used in dentistry.

"In the early days, we made the product at night, put it in the suitcases in the morning and went door to door selling to dentists, collecting money to make them the next night," Peterman said.

They started the business in Columbus before branching out to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Detroit "for a year selling product till we had enough sales," he said.

The company started on Huntley Road in Worthington. It moved to Lewis Center in 1986.

"When we needed expansion room, (we) looked for land close to Worthington," Peterman said. "Lewis Center was a growing location with plenty of room with amenities, such as a lake and mature trees. The whole ambiance was critical to me in building a facility that met what the organization is about."

The Lewis Center facility is 100,000 square feet and has 175 employees. The company has grown to 11 locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Britain, Spain, Singapore, Germany and Poland. With about 400 employees, it is one of the largest privately held superabrasive grinding and tooling manufacturers in the world, a company press release said.

Abrasive Technology weathered the tough economy, said Peterman, and now business is booming.

"The economy in 2008 and 2009 was horrible for the entire world and our industry (as well). But the reason we've done so well is, really, our good people who want to do the right kind of stuff - really good products and a diversified customer base," said Peterman. "We were able to make it through that difficult time because we had so many different platforms to offer our product to. The economy is really swinging up for us."

His greatest challenges in the 40 years was managing the business after buying out his partners in 1992 and moving the business model to a process centered organization (PCO), which was adopted in 2001.

The Petermans credit the PCO model for much of the company's success and employee dedication.

They said the standard hierarchal business structure is inefficient and stifles ingenuity.

The PCO structure "allows more flexibility, efficiency and productivity than the vertical structure that most corporations have," Peterman said. "You end up with lots more new stuff coming out, more opportunities, more of people thinking about ways to challenge and move forward and grow and change what they do."

However, it was not an easy transition for the company, said Daryl Peterman, because everyone was used to having a boss giving instructions.

"There are some people that don't work well with that (PCO) organization and once they realize that, they choose a different path," he said. "There was in that transition period a significant amount of turnover. As with any business model, for it to succeed you have to have the right people and their innate characteristics have to be in line with that model."

Loyal Peterman said, "A process organization is open, so people are freer to do what they need to do, but they need to think more, which is what is good about the structure."

"In a place where you have a high level of autonomy," said Daryl Peterman, "where you have a chance to develop your skill set and you believe in what you're doing, you're going to get a group of people who enjoy coming to work and enjoy creating high-quality product for themselves, their company and their customers. When you put that combination together it's a powerful place to be."

For more information, visit www.abrasive-tech.com.