Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

Harvard Business School Baker Library Historical Collections

Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

International Minerals & Chemical Corporation - Lehman Brothers Collection

International Minerals & Chemical Corporation

List of Deals

The International Minerals & Chemical Corporation was incorporated in June 1909 as International Agricultural Corporation. It initially owned a number of fertilizer manufacturing plants in Tennessee, all of the capital stock of the Kaliwerke Sollstedt Gewerkschaft Potash Mines in Germany, large deposits of phosphate rock in Tennessee, and all of the capital stock in the Prairie Pebble Phosphate Company in Florida. It added manufacturing plants in Alabama, Georgia, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee within the first few years.

Earnings rose quickly in the first few years of operation. Earnings were $1.0 million in 1910, doubling to $2.0 million in 1912. Demand for fertilizer fell during World War I, but this was offset by an increased need for sulphuric acid for war-related use. The company continued to grow after the war, but sales and earnings fluctuated from year to year.

International Agricultural earned $1.9 million on sales of $2.9 million in 1917. Earnings rose to $3.2 million on sales of $5.7 million in 1920. Sales were once again down to $1.9 million in 1924 with a loss of $549,007.

By the mid-1920s International Agricultural was the largest owner and seller of phosphate rock, which is used in the manufacture of fertilizer, in the United States.

Through the 1930s sales for the company continued their erratic course, driven largely by the fluctuating market for phosphate and fertilizer. The company earned $1.4 million on sales of $3.8 million in 1928. Yet, in 1931 it earned only $56 thousand on sales of $2.9 million, and in 1933 it lost over $1 million on sales of $826 thousand.

In December 1941 the company name was changed to International Minerals & Chemical Corporation. In April 1942 the company merged with United Potash & Chemical Corporation, a subsidiary engaged in the mining and refining of potash salt as well as the production of potassium chloride, potassium sulphate (both fertilizer ingredients), and magnesium chloride, the base for making magnesium metal.

The period during World War II was good for International Minerals, as competing imports from Germany were suspended. The company continued to perform well in the postwar period. In 1947, reflecting record demand for fertilizer, International Minerals reported the best year ever with sales over $50 million, up from $41.3 million the year prior. To take advantage of the heavy demand, the company embarked on a $21 million program to expand production, including new plants such as one in San Jose, California, to make monosodium glutamate, a seasoning agent.

The company continued to achieve new records for sales and earnings during the 1950s and 1960s. Sales were $93.6 million in 1954; ten years later, in 1964, sales were $225.7 million.

International Minerals began acquiring other companies in the mid-1960s. In December 1966 it acquired the manufacturing assets of E.J. Lavino & Company, makers of refractories for the steel industry. In 1968 it added both Chemicals, Inc., of Bartow, Florida, and Continental Ore Corporation of New York. These acquisitions helped lift sales from $299.3 million in 1966 to $501.8 million only two years later.

In 1970 the company bought Great Lakes Container Corporation of Detroit as well as Nabor Industries and American Metal Barrel Company. In July 1970 it sold its industrial chemicals business to Sobin Chemicals Inc. in Boston in exchange for a 36 percent interest in Sobin. This interest increased to 81 percent when International Minerals sold its ceramics operations to Sobin in July 1973.

International Minerals acquired Christopher Industries of Detroit and Acme Service and Container Company of Pontiac, Michigan, in 1971. It purchased a 58 percent interest in Cor-Plex International Corporation for $3.4 million in 1973 and sold it the following year.

In July 1973 the company purchased a 26 percent interest in Chemical Leaman Tank Lines for $5.5 million and a 49 percent interest in a French holding company for $6.2 million. International Minerals continued to expand in 1974. In February it added the Port Maitland Ontario plant from ERCO for $14.5 million; in July it acquired Republic Carbon Products for an undisclosed amount; and in August it purchased Tennessee Alloys Corporation and Tennessee Metallurgical Corporation from IU International for an undisclosed cash amount.

International Minerals & Chemical Corporation had become a leading producer of mineral and chemical products for industry and agriculture by 1975. It had operations in thirty-five states, as well as in Canada and fifteen other foreign countries.

Harvard Business School Harvard Business School Baker Library Histrorical Collections