Working out of his family home in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, back in October 1986, Barry Stoughton developed polyurethane track pads for asphalt pavers. He wanted to make a product that performed better than the standard rubber track pads that were then used in the construction industry. He sold the first set of track pads to a Chicago paving contractor, K-Five, for their Barber Greene paver.
Since then, BLS Enterprises Inc. has become an international manufacturer of TUFPADS polyurethane track pads. “Polyurethane track pads started with asphalt pavers and quickly moved to being able to be used for asphalt milling machines, concrete pavers, excavators and other tracked equipment,” says Matt Stoughton, company president and son of founder Barry.
Over the years, the polyurethane track pad has evolved, through both material and attachment improvements. Although BLS Enterprises is the U.S. originator of polyurethane track pads, Stoughton says it didn’t stop them from “working to make a great product better.”
They started with a base material that he says worked very well, but after receiving customer feedback over the years, and having learned how machines are actually used in the field, they came to realize that one material isn’t enough. “Machines work in different environments, with different applications and operators. All of this plays into the material and style of pad that best suits each customer.” Therefore, BLS added rubber track pads for specific applications.
BLS’s current focus is to stay within the undercarriage market for tracked construction equipment, Stoughton reports. Distribution of complementary high-quality undercarriage products such as track chains, shoes, rollers, idlers, and sprockets has increased over the years.
“That being said,” Stoughton speculates, “opportunities may arise that push us into other categories of wear parts for the construction industry.” They have gained extensive knowledge of many industries and spend a considerable amount of time listening to customers. “When a new opportunity presents itself, BLS will be ready to make a move.”
One move the company made in 1993 was to join AED. “We have always believed that giving back to the industry is a critical part of the business,” Stoughton says. BLS supports all the organizations they’re a part of, including NAPA (National Asphalt Pavement Association) and ARRA (Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association). He values the relationships made in these groups. “Not only has BLS made hundreds of business connections, but there have been lifelong friendships created as well.”
As BLS Enterprises marks its 35th anniversary, Stoughton is focused on the future and the company’s place in the industry.