Henry L. Upjohn Recognized with Distinction of Honorary Alumnus Award

Henry L. Upjohn, Chief Executive Officer of Special-Lite, Inc.-a leading manufacturer of flush doors-and longtime supporter of the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment (ESSIE) at the University of Florida (UF), was recognized on Wednesday, March 21st with the Distinction of Honorary Alumnus Award.

A reception was held in Upjohn’s honor at ESSIE’s Powell Family Structures and Materials Laboratory on UF’s East Campus and included a tour of the 6,000 square foot laboratory facility, highlighting major updates and new technology.

Upjohn is well known for working extensively with this laboratory, ESSIE’s hurricane expert, Dr. Forrest Masters, and his Special-Lite, Inc. team of engineers to develop more effective methods of testing hurricane-force winds on structures.

Upjohn, along with Masters, joined forces to create a 24-foot-wide by 17-foot-tall storm simulator-a project that was four years and $4 million in the making, with Special-Lite, Inc. covering 75% of the cost.

The simulator was designed to test both commercial and residential structures, simulating an EF-4 tornado and a category-5 hurricane. The hope is that the simulator provides a missing piece of the puzzle to manufacturers-helping them to visualize the damage that is occurring to structures during a storm and to see how their product is affected.

Upjohn holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Western Michigan University (WMU) and has worked successfully as a manufacturing engineer, as evidenced through his career accomplishments with Special Lite, Inc. His Special-Lite flush doors are featured in various locations including hospitals, schools and commercial establishments, most notably featured at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The engineering success of these doors is attributed to a unique process used by Upjohn that involved the development of a proprietary foam injection machine, filling molds uniformly with a high-density urethane foam that is chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-free and environmentally friendly.

Since purchasing Special-Lite in 1998, Upjohn has fostered an employee-centric, socially responsible culture, creating quality jobs for employees and quality products for customers. Because of this, Upjohn has led a small, “garage-shop” business to become an industry-leading company.

Upjohn is a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and the Society of Plastic Engineers (SPE). Upjohn provides continued support to his alma mater, WMU, and is also an active member of a family trust, supporting local hospitals and community service organizations.

For more information on Upjohn’s contributions to the Powell Family Structures and Materials Laboratory, please click here.