Founder Wilhelm Wendt might never have imagined the success of the modern specialty chemical enterprise we know as Perstorp today. But he surely wouldn’t have been surprised. Entrepreneurial by nature, enterprising by necessity, Wilhelm followed his vision with industry and enthusiasm—prerequisites for success by any measure.
A lot has happened in the last 137 years. As with any industry, there have been ups and downs, small changes and global shifts. Throughout it all, Perstorp has led the way for what a chemical company can be. Showing the unmistakably Swedish qualities of perseverance in the face of every challenge. Foresight and responsibility in every action. Focused innovation in the service of sustainable progress.
Today, Perstorp builds on the hard-won expertise and experience earned over its rich history with the same energy and dedication of its founder. And with unwavering confidence that the history we’re making now will be every bit as eventful.
Perstorp founder Wilhelm Wendt registers his company, then named Stensmölla Kemiska Tekniska Industri. The company intends to produce acetic acid, tar, charcoal and wood alcohol.
Wendt realizes that he must maximize the refinement and utilization of raw materials yielded by charcoal burning to keep his business going. This leads to the use and refinement of every possible waste product from the distilleries and the development of many new products.
Production of formalin begins. Despite the economic crisis in Sweden, optimistic experiments in new chemical products continue. Production of creosote becomes an important source of revenue, and the Russo-Japanese War means that all creosote is sold to the Japanese army.
World War I creates a boom in acetic acid sales. Acetic acid becomes so popular that for many years it would be Perstorp's best-known product by far. Perstorp also begins producing its own glassware to meet demand for bottles. Early examples of Perstorp glassware have become quite valuable today as collector's items.
The budding radio and electrical industries in Sweden become large consumers of plastic such as Perstorp's Isolit. Environmental thinking isn’t really a “thing” just yet, but local operation managers are already beginning to appreciate the importance of restricting how byproducts are disposed of. Production of laminates begins.
Despite a period of financial crises, Perstorp introduces new plastic products almost every day. One of these, beech parquet floors, is a great success, and leads to the creation of Sweden's biggest parquet factory.
The Second World War creates a need for quality coal to generate gas for automobiles. Perstorp's economy gets a boost, as a new charcoal-burning plant has just been built. At the end of the war, Perstorp emerges as Scandinavia's first modern plastics industry, with more than 10,000 different products—everything from billiard balls to aerial masts.
In the post-war era, decorative laminates begin gaining favour with the public. Perstorp launches a new light-coloured board, which is an immediate success. Perstorp's turnover increases by 50% and new housing facilities are built to accommodate workers.
The company undergoes rapid expansion in size, staff and research. A new President, J.O. Nauclér, institutes the Perstorp Research Foundation. Perstorp begins supplying the paint industry with polyalcohols made from formalin, which become important products for the company.
Perstorp shares are introduced on the open market. The company begins acquiring companies internationally and becomes the world's largest exporter of decorative high-pressure laminates. The decade also sees the start of a research and product development program on a scale unmatched in company history.
The company extends into new fields, such as biochemistry. Perstorp also launches Pergo, which becomes one of its most important products. Pergo is a laminate floor, and its creation comes from Perstorp´s long know-how in the areas of laminate and chemistry. Today Pergo is an independent listed company and a well-known brand name in the flooring market worldwide.
A period dominated by a refocus on the core business. All non-chemical and materials technology operations are divested, and Perstorp formulates its goal of becoming a world leader in specialty chemicals. The renewed focus on chemicals results in the 2001 acquisition of Perstorp by Sydsvenska Kemi AB, which is controlled by Industri Kapital, a private equity investment firm.
Boltorn™ dentrimer technology and other innovations open the door to superior performance in a growing number of applications - all part of the Winning Formulas that Perstorp is constantly developing for its customers worldwide. In 2001, Perstorp is delisted from the stock market and integration begins with Neste Oxo.
The focus on specialty chemicals is completed and extensive capacity investments start in order to meet growing demand. At the end of the year, the private equity company PAI Partners acquires the Perstorp Group from Industri Kapital.
Production starts at Scandinavia’s largest plant for renewable vehicle fuel. Today, Perstorp is Scandinavia’s largest manufacturer of rapeseed methyl ester, RME. Customers mainly include oil companies, who use Perstorp’s RME to mix with their diesel, but many bus and transport companies have also started to use 100% RME.
Perstorp launches a range of “green” products with less environmental impact. These include Oxymer™, a polycarbonate polymer used in eco-friendly polyurethane coatings, and Ymer™, an ingredient in polyurethane coatings that helps the polymer to dissolve in water.
A new plant for producing potassium formate begins operation at the production unit in Perstorp. A new organizational unit is set up in Asia to meet the growth in the region. The Perstorp Performance System is introduced to monitor operating performance across the Group. The system is designed to help reduce unplanned downtime, while increasing job satisfaction, safety and product quality.
Perstorp successfully launches the world’s first renewable Penta, Voxtar™, a product that can cut carbon footprint by up to 75%. Perstorp also launches the specialty polyol Holtac™, a product that will contribute to the phasing out of lead used as a stabilizer in PVC plastics.
Perstorp completes the development of a novel formulation to preserve food and feed during silage as well as the development of butyric acid formulations to increase animal growth and health while reducing the use of antibiotics. These products are now sold under the brand names ProSeed™ MI 700 and ProPhorce™ SR respectively.
In the same year, Perstorp completes the investment at its Warrington plant to double the monomer capacity. Investments have continued with an increase in polyol and thermoplastic capacity to match the monomer expansion. Perstorp has become the world technology leader in caprolactones and offers a unique combination of knowledge, expertise, plant & test facilities.
Increased focus on sustainability. A review is conducted of the current footprint on all of Perstorp’s major product offerings to consider aspects such as efficient use of energy and reduction of waste water.
In 2013, Perstorp inaugurates the new production facility in Zibo is making Neopentyl glycol (”Neo”). The plant operates on the Shandong Fufeng Perstorp Chemical Co., Ltd. production site, alongside an existing Perstorp plant that has produced Trimethylolpropane (TMP) since 2008. Perstorp always puts safety, health and environment first and the two facilities have won multiple safety and environmental awards. In the same year, Perstorp divests its formaldehyde technology and catalyst business, Formox, to Johnson Matthey.
A new management team is in place from beginning of 2014 and a new market-driven organizational structure is gradually implemented. In 2014, Perstorp also acquires the penta and calcium formate businesses from Slovakian Chemko a.s. Strážske. For Perstorp, this is part of an ambitious investment plan to increase its polyol production and strengthen its market leadership.
Perstorp successfully inaugurates a new Oxo plant in Stenungsund, Sweden – the single largest investment in Perstorp’s history and one of the most important as well. A gradual ramp-up of the production capacity in 2015 and 2016 enables effective production of innovative products such as the plasticizers Emoltene™ 100 and Pevalen™. Later in the year, Perstorp strengthens the position in Asia by acquiring the Penta business from Koei Chemical Company Ltd., a Japanese chemicals producer. As part of the business transfer, Koei Chemical Company Ltd. will act as Perstorp’s agent in Japan, which will secure continuous high service and reliable partnership with the customers in the Japanese market.
Another acquisition is taking place in Norway, where Perstorp buys an existing biodiesel plant in Fredrikstad, Norway, which will almost double current production capacity by the end of the year.
The strategic investment project Valerox, a new production plant for Oxo products in Stenungsund, Sweden, now has a second reactor up and running. This reactor will be used primarily for additional production of valeric acid and 2-PH, which means we now have a facility in place that can address new application areas such as synthetic lubricants and the pharmaceutical industry.
Perstorp acquired a biodiesel plant in Fredrikstad, Norway and has supported growth in the Norwegian market for biofuel and also enabled a step into the non-mobile segment.
2016 was a year of several production records; TMP at site Perstorp where the team already in end of November managed to beat the old yearly volume record, several 7-day-production-records have been achieved at the DPHP plant in Stenungsund and site Zibo delivered a new yearly TMP production record.
On November 17th, Perstorp successfully closed the refinancing process and secured a renewed long term capital structure, which is a sound basis to continue developing the business and further strengthen the market position in the coming years.
The transformation of Perstorp from a Good to a GREAT company is midterm, and having made substantial investments, it is now time to harvest the benefits of those and enter a period of consolidation and delivery.