You are here
Home > LATEST STORIES > Where It All Started—Sonnax

Where It All Started—Sonnax


From its humble yet enterprising beginning, Sonnax has gone from a small startup to a global leader in the cutting-edge design, manufacturing, and distribution of automatic transmission, torque converter, and driveline components for commercial vehicles, private sector, performance, and beyond.

After spending three decades working in transmission shops and auto parts stores, Max Joseph had a dream to start his own business and challenged his 21-year-old son, Neil, to come up with an improved design for a transmission governor. With no formal engineering training, Neil’s innovation exceeded expectations and soon became more popular than its OE counterpart. The men, working off their kitchen table in Ohio, conducted sales nationwide. The company that they founded in 1978 was named “Sonnax,” to reference “son” and “Max” and to also include the initials of Neil (N) as well as his sisters, Nadiline (N) and Sandy (S).

Neil bought out his other family members in ’82 and relocated Sonnax to southern Vermont—an area historically known as “Precision Valley” for its machining and manufacturing prowess. It outgrew its space within five years, and Neil moved operations to the nearby town of Bellow Falls. Sonnax remains there today, but now boasts a three-building campus with 80,000-square-feet of office, manufacturing, warehouse and research/development space. The company offers more than 4,000 individual products and employs more than 200 people worldwide.

Moving from private ownership to 100-percent employee owned in 2011, Sonnax was ultimately purchased by Marmon Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, in 2018 after shareholders approved the sale.

Sonnax offers many transmission parts popular in drag racing, including components for the Powerglide, TH400, 4L60E, 4L80E, and 6L80, plus heavy-duty upgrades for units like the 48RE and 68RFE. Many performance aluminum driveshafts are built end-to-end with Sonnax yokes and tubing.

Sonnax is fully entrenched in the performance aftermarket and committed to providing racers, including 2018 NHRA Top Sportsman Champion Ronnie Proctor, Street Outlaws star Chuck Seitsinger, Lead Sled Lea Ochs, and 2018 NHRDA PPE Super Street Champion Phillip Franklin, with the high-quality parts they need to keep drivetrains working flawlessly. The company is also proud to be a longtime exhibitor at the SEMA and PRI trade shows.

Over the years, two things have never changed at Sonnax: an uncompromising commitment to quality and a philosophy of addressing the root cause of a problem rather than treating the symptoms.

Ainsley Jacobs
P.TEN Marketing's Ainsley Jacobs is a freelance motorsports marketing professional with extensive experience in marketing and communications, website development, social media management, photography, journalism, and more.