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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Dart Industries, Inc. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Dart Industries, Inc.

List of Deals

The origin of Dart Industries dates to 1903 when the United Drug Company was founded in New Jersey. In the first few decades of its existence, United Drug acquired or merged with another company nearly every year. It often created various subsidiaries and other corporations that it would later dissolve or to which it would transfer assets. The end result was that by 1946, when United Drug changed its name to United-Rexall Drug Company, it operated 565 retail drug stores. It also manufactured drug store merchandise and owned over 300 trademarks, including such well-known trademarks of the time as Rexall, Puretest, Firstaid, Klenzo, and Kantleek.

United Drug manufactured and sold a diverse range of products, from hot water bottles to grape juice, chocolate bars, stationary, and pharmaceuticals. Sales in 1945 amounted to $158.2 million with earnings of $1.9 million. By comparison, six years earlier in 1939 sales were $89.4 million and net income was $1.1 million. In May 1946 the company changed its name to United-Rexall Drug, Inc., and in the following year it was changed once again, to Rexall Drug.

During the postwar years, the company continued with an aggressive acquisitions policy. In 1953 it merged with Lane Drug Stores and Mansfield Chocolate Company. In 1955 Rexall merged with Hudson Valley Food Company, and in 1957 it acquired a controlling interest in Blum's of San Francisco. In 1958 it added Tupper Company, Tupperware Home Parties, Inc., and Chemtrol Corporation. In early 1959 the company acquired Chippewa Plastics, Inc., Carnegies of England, Injection Molding Company, and Albert Tool & Gage Company. In April 1959 the company's name was changed to Rexall Drug & Chemical Co.

During the 1960s, Rexall continued to expand, especially through non-U.S. acquisitions. In 1960 it added Darwin Laboratories of Los Angeles and the ethical pharmaceutical division from Schenley Industries, including Schenlabs Pharmaceuticals. It also established Consolidated Thermoplastics and the Rexall Chemical Company. In 1961 Rexall acquired White Metal Manufacturing and also a majority interest in Kettlehack G.m.b.H., a West German pharmaceutical concern. In 1962 it added Evanston Argentina SACIF, a Buenos Aires drug company, and SAREX of Switzerland, a producer of plastic molding machinery.

Through the remainder of the 1960s, Rexall added thirty-two more companies. They ranged from manufacturers of outdoor illuminated plastic signs to cosmetics companies. While the majority were U.S. companies, others were in France and Spain.

The name of the company was changed from Rexall Drug & Chemical to Dart Industries in 1969, after J.W. Dart, the chairman and president.

By the early 1970s Dart, through its acquisitions program, had grown into a large highly diversified conglomerate. Sales in 1971 were $808.9 million as compared to $483.9 million in 1966. The company had six major operating groups: chemicals and plastics, consumer products, glass containers, land development, and direct selling (such as Tupperware). The sixth and oldest segment of the company, Rexall Drug and Retail, now only accounted for about 15 percent of company sales.

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