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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Industrial Rayon Corporation - Lehman Brothers Collection

Industrial Rayon Corporation

List of Deals

The beginnings of the Industrial Rayon Corporation date to 1917 when the National Artificial Silk Company was formed. This company was acquired in June 1919 by American Borvisk Company, which, in turn, was consolidated and merged with the Industrial Fibre Corporation of America in December 1920.

American Fibre was one of the leading manufacturers of artificial silk rayons in the United States through much of the 1920s. It was the fourth-largest producer of rayon in the country in 1925. In July of that year, a syndicate formed by Walter W. Birge and Samuel Ungerleider incorporated the Industrial Rayon Corporation in Delaware with $60 million in capital. They then purchased nearly 400,000 shares of Industrial Fibre from "Italian interests," giving them control of the company.

Industrial Rayon purchased the Commercial Fibre and Throwing Company in December 1925, and plans were made to expand plant capacity by 50 percent, which would enable the company to produce 4,000,000 pounds of the rayon staple annually. In July 1929 the company also acquired the Industrial Rayon Corporation of Covington, Virginia.

Through the Great Depression, Industrial Rayon encountered decreased demand and falling prices, but in the 1930s it once again began to make profits. It earned $684 thousand in 1931, rising to $1.8 million in 1933 and $1.3 million in 1934.

Industrial Rayon sold 146,007 shares at $30 per share in a stock offering in 1937. The proceeds of the sale were used to install additional equipment at its Cleveland plant and to construct a new plant near Painesville, Ohio. The new plant was estimated to cost between $8 million and $10 million and was expected to have an annual productive capacity of twelve million pounds of rayon yarn. Industrial Rayon diversified beyond its traditional lines of business in August 1940 by acquiring all of the assets of Storrs & Harrison Company, one of the largest nurseries in the country.

Sales and earnings for Industrial Rayon grew from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, as the company developed into one of the leading producers of viscose-type rayon yarn. The company achieved sales of $6.7 million in 1938, and by 1944 sales had risen to $22.4 million.

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