In 1960, Don Hurley started cutting gaskets based out of a garage in upstate New York. He had been working as a purchasing agent for American Brake Shoe but when the company decided to relocate from Rochester, NY, to California, Don decided not to move his growing family across the country. Instead, he saw an opportunity in the increasing demand for sealing products in the booming regional manufacturing market.
Becoming a specialist in gasket design and fabrication, Don built a solid, consistently growing and eminently flexible gasket fabrication business, receiving long-term approved supplier status from many of his customers. Two fabrication plants, one in Rochester and one in Elmira, NY, which opened in 1974, as well as an additional sales office in Syracuse,assured prompt delivery and services for Web Seal’s major customers of small to medium original equipment manufacturers throughout the northeastern US. Over the decades, as Web Seal evolved into a full-service fabricator and distributor of sealing components, it was twice named one of Rochester’s Top 100 Companies.
The family business was based on the Hurley commitment to a few “down-home” philosophies: personal attention, partnership, value, and community involvement. Right from the beginning, Don's focus was on customer relations, providing personal attention with a diversity of engineering and other services to make the customer’s own job easier. Through the years, Web Seal has created innumerable custom programs and services for customers. Educating his employees about providing value along with product was also important for Don, ensuring prompt access to technical expertise, customized training, and on-site problem resolution and other assistance.
As a responsible corporate citizen, Web Seal has actively and financially supported a wide variety of causes, and encouraged employees in their own local activities. Among the many social service organizations the company supported was as founding sponsor of the annual Rochester St. Patrick’s Day Kids Fun Run to raise money for The Irish Children's Program Fund, which brought equal numbers of Catholic and Protestant children from Belfast, Northern Ireland, to the greater Rochester area each summer. The company has also supported a local day care center, YMCA fundraisers, city and county summer jobs programs, and programs for refugee resettlement, displaced homemakers, sheltered workshops, halfway homes, and homeless shelters.
As Web Seal grew, Don’s spouse Betty, a former social worker, took over accounting responsibilities for many years in addition to raising 10 children, and actively served as treasurer of the corporation until 2018. At one time or another, each of Don's and Betty’s kids worked in the company, especially during summers, school breaks and annual inventory when young, and as the years went on that included many of their 17 grandchildren.
Don was known for his trademark bowties, his gregarious nature and storytelling prowess, his exceptional fondness for all things Irish, his enjoyment of Tullamore Dew, and his gentleman’s handshake. He often gave the impression of being one of those fabled leprechauns he often talked about.
In late 1989, his oldest son John took over day-to-day operations, sales and marketing responsibilities, leaving Don to “retire” in order to return to his first love, the “gasket shop.” In late 2000, Don became chairman of the board, naming John president. After returning from a trip to his adopted second home of Ennis, Ireland, in 2001, Don suffered a paralyzing stroke. He maintained his sharp-witted playfulness and sense of dignity in the face of his disability and passed away in 2006. Every March, the company holds its annual Town Hall Meeting and Employee Service Awards around St. Patrick’s Day in honor of Don.
Today, Web Seal is a global supplier of sealing components and services under the second-generation ownership of John Hurley. John holds an MBA from The University of Miami (FL) Jenkins School of Business and carries on the family commitment to personal attention, partnership, value, and community service. He is active in two local choirs as well as local and state politics.
Betty continued to enjoy hearing stories about the business until her passing in February, 2021 at the age of 93.