Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Ashland Overseas Finance Corporation - Lehman Brothers Collection

Ashland Overseas Finance Corporation

List of Deals

J. Fred Miles founded the Swiss Drilling Company in Oklahoma in 1910. Swiss Drilling's original purpose was to explore and operate new wells. In 1916 Miles moved his company to new fields in Kentucky, where competition from the then-giant Standard Oil was not as fierce. The Swiss Oil Company was incorporated in 1918. Swiss Oil became one of the leading oil concerns in Kentucky. Swiss suffered in the 1920s due to the exhaustion of oil wells and post-war depression.

In 1923 Miles hired Paul Blazer to select, buy, and operate a new refinery in the area. Blazer was named head of the new Ashland Refining Company, a division of Swiss Oil, in 1924. The refinery facility was established in Cattlesburg, Kentucky. Ashland thrived, as its proximity to the crude oil supplied from Swiss made it possible to sell its refined petroleum products more cheaply than competitors who were forced to transport their crude or finished products from farther away. By 1926 Ashland's annual gross sales were $3 million.

Ashland continued to grow through acquisitions. In 1930 the company purchased Tri-State Refining Company. Tri-State had a sizable refinery and its own team of gas stations and trucks, which gave Ashland the makings of an integrated refining and marketing organization. In 1931 Ashland bought the Cumberland Pipeline Company, which facilitated the shipment of crude oil from the ocean, as well as from the fields. As Ashland continued to do well, Swiss Oil was failing. Swiss could no longer sustain the two companies; thus in 1936 they were merged into the Ashland Oil & Refining Company. The company then joined Standard Oil Company in a pipeline from southern Illinois. By 1941 Ashland's sales were $8 million. During World War II Ashland used government assistance to build a new refining facility at Cattlesburg and increased its revenues to $35 million in 1945. In 1948 Ashland merged with Allied Oil Company, a fuel-oil broker; the merger extended Ashland's marketing area to Cleveland and as far west as Chicago. The company acquired several more companies, and by 1950 it was the nineteenth-largest oil company in the nation. Ashland was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1950 as well.

Ashland entered the field of petrochemicals in 1956, when it purchased the R. J. Brown Company. Ashland acquired other petrochemical holdings, including the United Carbon Company and Archer-Daniels-Midland Chemicals Company. In 1962 Ashland purchased the Central Louisiana pipeline system, a major pipeline that gathered most of the oil produced in greater Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico fields. The net effect of such expansions was that Ashland's sales increased from $490 million in 1963 to $723 million in 1966. The company's 1966 acquisition of Warren Brothers Company introduced Ashland to the contracting business, the majority of which was the manufacture and installation of asphaltic and portable cement concrete surfacing. In the late 1960s, Ashland placed increasing emphasis on research and development. The company's acquisition of United Carbon Company, Catalin Corporation, and Archer-Daniels-Midland Chemicals provided for better research facilities and increased technical abilities.

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