Business Focus Changes

In 1941, after Korfmann's death, his son, Calvin, became president of the company. During the ensuing decade, demand for rubber products greatly increased in the 1940s, enabling the company to further diversify its business base, while still retaining brewing-industry customers.

In 1957, current owner Don Gutknecht was hired as an inside salesman, presaging a changing of the guard. In 1967, Korfmann  who was preparing to retire  sold the company to Gutknecht and two other employees, the late Bill Ehlers and Lou Miller.

The ensuing two decades proved eventful for RK Rubber as the company adapted to changing times. In the early 1960s, the company moved from its shop on the south side of downtown Milwaukee to the city's northwest side. In addition, the company switched gears in 1968 and became a distributor of a full line of Goodyear rubber products, including conveyor belts, V-guides and sheet-rubber and engineered products for industrial companies.

"It was a pretty exciting time," Gutknecht recalls. "We bought the whole kit and kaboodle and had lot of great ideas and high hopes...and it all paid off."

The business landscape changed, too. During the early 1960s, business volume was split just about evenly between brewery supplies and rubber products for industrial companies. But the brewery end of the business slowly faded, reflecting a larger beer-industry trend as smaller breweries around the state gradually went out of business.