After 63 years and three generations in the Summers family, Summers Rubber Company has a new owner.
When he took the Lakewood mayor’s post two years ago, Summers stepped down as president of the Cleveland-based company but continued to own the business.
“I don’t think I fully appreciated how burdensome my concern and worry for the company would be,” he said. “I feel a great sense of relief. I don’t think I understood how difficult it would be. I didn’t spend much time there.
“But I got a new job, and I really couldn’t quit my old job.”
The official job switch resulted in “quite a cut” in pay, said the mayor, declining to specify how much he earned before he accepted the mayor’s job.
He earns $90,000 per year as mayor.
“At a different time in my life I wouldn’t have done this,” he said. “My kids are grown and gone to college. I was at a nice point in my life where I could consider that.”
Mayor Summers, who wouldn’t disclose the purchase price, citing a confidential purchase agreement, said that he took the company from a handful of employees to a multi-million-dollar enterprise.
“Summers Rubber was doing exceptionally well, survived the recession and continued to grow,” he said. “It’s a good time to sell.”
The company will keep its name — as well as the 56 full-time employees — but Summers will keep ownership of five of the properties and lease the land to the company.
Wendy Summers, the mayor’s wife, will remain the company’s vice president of finance for a year.
With eight locations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Summers Rubber specializes in the fabrication of hose assemblies, inspection, testing and certification services.
Summers’ grandfather William Hiram Summers left Goodyear to start the company in 1949 with his son, William Michael Summers, who had been working for Chrysler in Detroit.
“I started in 1980, and my dad left in 1985,” Mayor Summers said.
“Leaving a three-generation legacy isn’t something that you do easily. I’ve been exploring the options. None of my kids wanted to run the business.”
Does this signal retirement?
“It doesn’t signal anything other than a new owner taking Summers Rubber and taking it to the next level,” he said. “I still have three years left as mayor of Lakewood. That’s all I know at this point.”