Since its inception in 1932, Stepan Company has steadily grown from a small provider of chemical products into one of the world’s leading chemical manufacturing companies. The history of Stepan Company spans eight decades and includes multiple acquisitions and the development of 17 facilities in 12 countries — all under the guidance of the Stepan family.
The Early Years
In its earliest days, Stepan Company was just Alfred C. Stepan Jr., who began distributing chemical products to control road dust on country roads in Illinois. His first location was a rented desk at Chicago’s North Pier Terminal.
1932: Chemical Distributors is founded by 23-year-old Alfred C. Stepan Jr.
1935: Establishes first sulfonation process: oils for non-lathering shampoos.
1937: General Oil Products Company is formed.
1937: The young chemical companies relocate to a two-story building on Goose Island in Chicago.
1940: Chemical Distributors and General Oil Products Company combine to become Stepan Chemical Company.
1951: Stepan acquires new space for offices, manufacturing and research at Kedzie Avenue location.
1954: Modest operations begin at new 380-acre site in Millsdale (Joliet), Illinois.
1959: Stepan purchases Maywood Chemical Works in Maywood, New Jersey.
1960: Stepan Chemical Company moves into headquarters in Northfield, Illinois.
1961: Stock trades publicly on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol "SCL."
1964: Sulfonation production at new Bzura manufacturing facilities in Fieldsboro, New Jersey.
1965: Stepan purchases facilities in Anaheim, California.
1970: Develops biodegradable surfactants.
1976: Acquires first European company, Industries Chimiques de Voreppe, in Voreppe (Grenoble), France.
1982: Purchases the Kessco esters business from Armak.
The Growth Years
In the 1980s and 1990s, Stepan Company grew rapidly, acquiring new business in several states as well as abroad.
1984: Stepan Chemical Company becomes Stepan Company.
1985: Stepan Company purchases surfactants business and manufacturing facilities of Westvaco in Winder, Georgia.
1985: Purchases urethane business of Reichhold.
1986: Purchases anionic and cationic surfactants business of Millmaster Onyx.
1987: Purchases PVO; incorporates it into the facilities at Maywood, New Jersey.
1988: Purchases the Petrolite surfactants facilities in Matamoros, Mexico.
1989: Purchases chemical companies Canada Packers in Toronto and Domtar in Longford Mills, Ontario, Canada — both surfactants businesses.
1991: Purchases ACCOSOFT® line of chemical products from Karlshamns USA.
1991: Purchases U.S.-based sulfonate and sulfonate blend business of ICI Americas Inc.
1993: Forms joint venture — Stepan Colombiana, Cali, Colombia.
1995: Forms joint venture — Stepan Philippines Inc., Bauan, Batangas, Philippines.
1996: Acquires Cologne, Germany, plant.
1996: Stepan Company stock begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
1997: Forms subsidiary — Stepan Quimica, ltda., Sao Paulo, Brazil.
1997: Acquires Lonza West Coast surfactant business.
1998: Acquires DuPont and Boehme-Filatex chemical companies.
The Global Expansion Years
Today, Stepan Company is the largest merchant manufacturer of anionic surfactants, with more than 2,000 employees and 17 manufacturing locations worldwide.
1998: Stepan Company acquires Stepan Colombiana.
2001: Purchases the Manro Performance Chemicals Plant in Stalybridge (Manchester), United Kingdom.
2001: Purchases Akcros Chemicals Ltd. surfactants business.
2002: Acquires chemical companies Degussa Quaternary and Pentagon Chemical Specialties (formerly owned by Dow Haltermann).
2004: Forms joint venture — Nanjing Stepan Jinling Chemical Co. Ltd., Nanjing, People's Republic of China.
2004: Purchases sulfonation plant in Vespasiano, Brazil, from Unilever.
2007: Acquires a specialty agricultural surfactants product line from the HallStar Company.
2007: Stepan celebrates its 75th anniversary.
2008: Stepan Europe purchases two chemical product lines: an esterquat product line for the fabric softener market and a phosphate ester product line from CECA, a subsidiary of Arkema, headquartered in Paris, France.
2008: Stepan Company acquires additional ownership in Nanjing Stepan Jinling Chemical Company Ltd. in Nanjing, China.
2008: Forms a joint venture with Nalco Holding Company under the TIORCO name, for enhanced oil recovery.
2010: Acquires the manufacturing assets of Peter Cremer GmbH's 100,000-ton-per-year methyl ester plant located on Singapore's Jurong Island.
2010: Stepan Europe purchases Alfa Systems' new polyester polyols plant, located in Brzeg Dolny, just outside of Wroclaw, Poland.
2010: Acquires additional ownership in Stepan Philippines Inc. (SPI) joint venture in the Philippines.
2011: Stepan Specialty Products LLC acquires the Clarinol®, Marinol® and PinnoThin® specialty chemicals lines of Lipid Nutrition B.V., a part of Loders Croklaan B.V.
2013: Stepan purchases the Bayer MaterialScience North American Polyester Resins business and the Columbus, Georgia production facility.