S.S. White® Technologies Inc.

History of S.S.White

S.S. White Technologies, Inc. started life in Philadelphia some 162 years ago as a tooth factory founded by Dr. Samuel Stockton White in 1844 with a work force of three.

Samuel Stockton White was born on June 19, 1822 to William Rose White and Mary Stockton in Hulmeville, Pennsylvania. By the age of 21 he was practicing dentistry in his uncle's firm and supervising his manufacturing department. The next year, in 1844 young Samuel set up his own tooth factory in the attic of a house in downtown Philadelphia and practiced dentistry downstairs.

Samuel Stockton White's little tooth factory became, over the decades, the largest dental manufacturing company in the world--with sales offices in New York, Boston and Chicago; and catalogues in Spanish, French and German.

Dr. White was a visionary and a tireless inventor with ten patents to his name. His products earned eighty medals for excellence from the great industrial institutes in the U.S. and were as esteemed in Europe as they were in the United States. He inspired creativity and initiative in his employees, such as Dr. Eli T. Starr (1834-1904) whose mechanical and inventive genius contributed most to the excellence of S.S. White Company. Dr. Starr had over a hundred patents to his name.

Dr. White was also an enlightened businessman. He employed a black chemist in his laboratory when blacks rarely found anything but menial jobs. His company published "Dental Cosmos," a respected chronicle of dentistry, and assumed a major role in educating other dentists. His classmate and later the personal dentist of Napoleon III of France, Dr. Thomas Evans introduced White's innovative techniques in Europe.

During the Civil War, soldiers were required to have six upper and six lower teeth to bite off the end of a powder cartridge. Dr white led the American Dental Association and met with Abraham Lincoln with a proposal to provide dental services to the Union soldiers, though nothing came of it because of logistics issues.

In 1874 Dr. Eli Starr first introduced high speed Flexible Shaft in S.S. White dental engines. He obtained US Patent No. 158,325 in 1874 for his invention. It was so successful that Dr. White continued to buy patents for further improvements in Flexible Shaft thereafter. He encouraged fellow dentists to improve their practices which created a market for tools and supplies he manufactured and sold.

Dr. White died of a slight attack of congestion of the brain on December 30, 1879 in Paris, France, at the age of fifty-seven. He was worth a million and a half dollars. He is one of the most revered names in the field of dentistry for transforming dentistry from a secretive trade into a respectable medical discipline.

DR. ELI THOMPSON STARR, INVENTOR, DENTIST WAS BORN on January 7, 1834 to Irish Quaker parents Jeremiah and Mary (Thompson) Starr. He worked for his dentist father-in-law Dr. Emmor Jeffris in Wilmington, DE, where he struck the note to which his natural energies were attuned, and thereafter his work was in and for dentistry. Soon he attracted the attention of DR. J. DeHaven White, of Philadelphia, and later entered the employ of Dr. Samuel S. White in 1862 where he remained for over forty years.

For years he was one of the chief patent experts of the house for the examination of devices submitted for purchase, and his judgment was rarely wrong. The fecundity of his inventive talent is evidenced by the fact that nearly one hundred different patents were granted to him, covering nearly every department of dentistry. Besides chairs, engines etc., Dr. Starr invented a number of electrical devices for the use of dentists. He also patented forms of storage batteries and a system for lighting railroad trains by electricity. His mechanical and inventive talents contributed most to the excellence of S. S. White Company.

Adapted from DENTAL COSMOS, February 1905

THE S. S. WHITE CABLE ENGINE is largely his invention. To many in his profession he was known personally, but thousands have and are reaping the benefits of his industry. It is well for us to stop and give thanks to the men, too often unseen, who do so much to lighten our labors, and are really benefactors of the highest type.

Adapted from DENTAL REGISTER, February 1905

Dr. White's grandson Samuel Stockton White III was a gymnast and an athlete. Prior to joining the Company the youthful athlete had visited Paris in 1901 with his painter wife Vera. They were introduced to the world-renowned sculptor Auguste Rodin by a mutual friend. Young S. S. White III modeled for the sculptor who made two sculptures of the strong man called "The Athlete" which are currently exhibited at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. He joined the company in 1903 and became Director in 1926.

The company continued to flourish after Dr. White's death under a series of strong and creative managers, during the years 1881 through 1944.

In 1881 it became a stock company. Its product Flexible Shaft crossed over to industrial applications and soon became a ubiquitous presence in daily American life.

In 1915, S.S. White Flexible Shafts replaced drive links in automobile speedometers.

In 1931, the company published the industry's first Flexible Shaft hand-book which quickly became 'The Source' for all engineers interested in rotary motion.

In 1937 it established a vast manufacturing plant in Staten Island, NY.

In 1941 (during WW II) S.S. White designed sophisticated Flexible Shaft assemblies for aircrafts of the U.S. military.

By 1950, S.S. White had become the largest employer in Staten Island, NY.

In 1968, the Pennwalt Corporation-a Fortune 200 corporation-acquired S.S. White.

In 1972, the S.S. White Industrial Division relocated to its current modern plant in Piscataway, New Jersey; completely severing its ties with its sister company, S. S. White Dental Manufacturing.

In 1973, a bright young engineer, Rahul Shukla, joined the company. He who with three engineering degrees had never heard of the term "Flexible Shaft" in his entire career, observed that no definitive scientific formulas to design these complex shafts ever existed. This void inspired a vision in Rahul and he obsessively carried out tireless calculations, countless experiments, and lengthy research studies throughout the 70s. Then in 1984, a senior research engineer Adam Black III came on board who after five years of exhaustive investigation in the field of mechanics of Flexible Shaft, submitted a doctoral thesis to The Stevens Institute of Technology. Based on his research, S. S. White introduced "Perflexion(tm)," a proprietary software for designing Flexible Shafts to suit their respective applications. In 1987, a doctoral degree was awarded to Adam Black by for his groundbreaking research.


The very next year, in 1988, Rahul Shukla (pictured right) purchased the company from Pennwalt and became its president and CEO. He promptly changed the name from S. S. White Industrial Division to S. S. White Technologies, Inc., transforming it from a sluggish division of a subsidiary of a mega corporation into an independent, innovative and youthful technology outfit. Now for the first time since the turn of the century, the company had a leader whose commitment to the company and expertise of Flexible Shaft was without equal. He quickly reinforced White's original motto, "to make the best goods, justice to employees, and fair dealing with patrons." Rahul Shukla introduced a new style of management: he emphasized technological innovation, arduous hard work, personalized customer service, and respect for his workforce. He also encouraged gleeful camaraderie among the employees and introduced numerous social events, cruises, picnics and such, making work a pleasurable activity.

Under his stewardship the company now focuses on two main product lines:

Flexible Shaft specializing in rotary motion solutions for the aircraft, medical, automotive, and industrial markets. More than half the cars produced in the US today carry one or more of S.S. White's Flexible Shafts. Every aircraft produced in the world, whether helicopter, military jet, jumbo airliner (except the Russian jets), or prop plane has at least one S.S. White Flexible Shaft on board. We are considered the world leader in the design and manufacture of Flexible Shafts and related assemblies.


Surgical Instruments
- Another example of our continual improvement is with our orthopedic surgical instruments division. In 1999, we purchased "Snap-On Medical Products, Inc." In this division currently, our engineering team creates state-of-the-art Xtract-All(tm) hand-held surgical instrumentation for the removal of orthopedic implants. We sell these products directly to the doctors and hospitals that use them. In addition to our Piscataway plant, we have now in operation a second plant in Tempe, Arizona serving our aerospace clients. We also have presence in Detroit, Canada, and Israel. As an indication of our burgeoning growth, a manufacturing unit has been established near New Delhi, India and a second one is planned at a free port on Indian west coast.


True to our founder's credo, S.S. White has been continually developing new processes to make new products and finding new applications for our products. After eight years of research, our Dr. Adam Black worked out the mathematical formulas governing the performance of Flexible Shaft. Based on these formulas, our CEO Rahul Shukla developed a computer-modeling program for designing a Flexible Shaft to microscopically precise parameters. This led to the introduction of our new product lines of STEADY-FLEX® and POWER-FLEX® shafts. These shafts perform up to 25% better on average than comparable shafts made elsewhere.