Business Leaders of the Year

Private Industry

Harry Arnon

Harry Arnon

Harry Arnon


(December 2019) – Harry Arnon becomes animated when he talks about airplanes, boats, cars or anything else that goes fast — not necessarily because of their speed, but because of the way they’re manufactured. Aerodynamic materials can make them lighter and faster, and he loves to explain exactly how that works.

As the co-founder and CEO of Hernon Manufacturing, Arnon oversees a team that has grown to 70 since he and his brother Josef created the company in their basement in New York in 1978. Both had moved to the United States from Israel and were looking for a way to make a difference as well as a living. Today Hernon has been in Sanford since 1990 and has a catalogue of as many as 5,000 adhesives used in everything from fighter jets, nuclear submarines and advanced missile systems to ammunition. It has also created dispensing equipment and UVLED curing systems that help manufacturers streamline their operations.

“It’s a pleasure to be in Central Florida and have all the support available to small businesses to grow,” Arnon said. “Hernon has a number of new technologies we will be introducing in the next few years that can change the manufacturing process.”

Hernon has helped manufacturers move to composite materials and structural adhesive offering greater than 40 joules of impact and stress distribution instead of the traditional parts of metal, bolts, rivets and welding that concentrates stress on a single point or a line and creates a drag in motion that slows down speed. This transition allows for lighter, larger craft that can carry bigger loads or more passengers and consume less fuel, Arnon said. It also makes them safer.

“In order to improve performance of new airplanes, boats, cars and other assemblies, we are trying to manufacture products so they have better resistance to impact, shock and vibrations,” Arnon said. “Adhesive is the solution to all of the above.”

Arnon and his brother have both always had an interest in aircraft. Arnon served in the Israeli Air Force, where he learned the mechanics of fighter jets. His brother, the company’s technical director, holds a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering.

Hernon now conducts business in 67 countries and has increased its sales 116% over the past three years. It holds numerous patents, and its extensive list of awards includes a President’s E Award, the highest recognition a U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. Arnon and his wife, Karen, who serves as the company’s executive vice president, are active in everything from professional associations to local charities.

In guiding the team, Arnon relies on leadership skills he developed in the military, where he served for four years in training and education. “There is a lot you learn,” he said, “especially when there is a war, and then you learn real fast what to do and what not to do — and how important it is to execute the right decision and not wait for it.”

When he finished his military service, he took a tour of Europe and ended up in the United States with $40 in his pocket. At some point, after Hernon kept expanding and still needed larger facilities, Arnon and his brother began to consider relocating to the Orlando area.

“Central Florida had a lot of advantages for what we were looking for,” Arnon said. “The space center is here, and a there are a lot of companies here that work as suppliers for the space industry. Working with high-tech companies forces you to move up a level and become a more high-tech manufacturer as well. That was one of our goals.”

Arnon also cited the weather, the beach, the lack of state income taxes and the state’s proximity to Latin America. “All of these made us decide this was the right place we wanted to move to, and I’m very glad we did.”

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About the author

Diane Sears

A career journalist, author and advocate for business growth, Diane Sears is the CEO, editor and publisher of i4 Business. She is also the founder and president of DiVerse Media LLC, which has handled content marketing projects including nonfiction books, white papers, executive speeches and scripts since 2000. She is co-founder of the nonprofit Go for the Greens Foundation, which helps connect women-owned and minority-owned business owners with growth opportunities internationally.

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