Release Date: March 24,2022

Mayor Horrigan Announces Chemstress Consultant Company as the Presenting Sponsor of the Akron Rubber Worker Statue

City of Akron pays tribute to Chemstress Founder Robert Handelman 

Akron, Ohio, March 24, 2022 — Today, Mayor Horrigan is pleased to announce that Chemstress Consultant Company, based here in Akron for over 55 years, has provided the funding to be the presenting sponsor of the downtown Akron Rubber Worker Statue. This gracious sponsorship was due in large part to Chemstress Founder Robert “Bob” Handelman. Mr. Handelman was undeniably dedicated to the Akron community. He generously supported the creation and installation of the Akron Rubber Worker Statue, wanting to pay homage to those who built Akron and to honor the tenacity and strength of Akron’s work force. Mr. Handelman sadly passed away on March 8, 2022.

"I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Bob's passing," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. "Bob was a passionate advocate for Akron. He was an extremely generous, kind, and forward-thinking man and I know he will be missed by not only his friends and family, but our community at large. My prayers and condolences are with his family at this time." 

Mr. Handelman embodied the spirit of the rubber workers of years past, always working hard and building a foundation for those to come. In 1965, at the young age of 25 years old, Mr. Handelman founded Chemstress Consultant Company with nothing more than a typewriter, a vision, and a passion for providing quality service. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company awarded Chemstress with its first purchase order, and Goodyear remains a client of Chemstress to this day. As founder, CEO and salesman, Mr. Handelman headed Chemstress for 55 years, retiring in the spring of 2021 as Chairman. His daughter, Julie Wesel, now leads the company as CEO. 

“My Dad quietly committed himself to make the world a better place,” said Julie Wesel, CEO of Chemstress. “You can see this commitment in the engineering company he built and the completed impactful projects, and his dedication to the Chemstress People.  In addition, he assisted many, including his family and friends, improving their worlds through kind words or deeds and endless energy.  He will be missed by many in our community.” 

In September of 2019, the City of Akron announced that a statue would be installed in the center of the newly redeveloped Main St. in downtown Akron to pay homage to the dedication of Akron's rubber workers who helped build up the city and the rubber and tire industry. The City hired Ohio Sculptor Alan Cottrill to create the statue and in May of 2021, the statue was installed. Throughout the process, the City sought donations and sponsorships from businesses and organizations in the community to help fund the project. With the donation from Chemstress, the City has now raised a total of $330,000 in sponsorships for the statue.

Before his passing, Mr. Handelman proudly announced Chemstress as the presenting sponsor of the statue to the employees of Chemstress. He said, "The leaders of the rubber companies are justifiably routinely honored. However, it is the people who worked in the rubber industry that enabled it to become successful. Chemstress, as we all know, is a service organization whose contributions to the well-being of society are provided by the Chemstress People who work here. Chemstress is humbled, grateful, and pleased to be the Presenting Sponsor for that wonderful sculpture at the roundabout intersection of Mill Street and Main Street. […] The location of the sculpture is but a half a block from our Chemstress Courtyard Building, a location very familiar to us day in and day out."

The City has installed a commemorative plaque in the center of the roundabout in front of the statue acknowledging Chemstress Consultant Company as the presenting sponsor of the Akron Rubber Worker Statue.

To learn more about the Akron Rubber Worker Statue, please visit akronohio.gov/rubberworker.