The Orangeburg site is Walker Emulsions newest addition having been purchased in February 2014.
In its beginnings, Associated Chemists Inc. (ACI), owned by Dick and Mary Rosenberg, purchased the property in Orangeburg, South Carolina. At the time of the purchase the building was owned by Mosler Safe as a manufacturing site for small home safes. The property was purchased in January of 1994 and production began in June with shipments starting in July.
Originally sited as a facility to manufacture both Edge Seal and defoamer, the plant quickly became a dedicated Edge Seal producer. The first addition to the building came within three years and second addition was added a few years later. Primer manufacturing was added in the late 1990’s as well as the manufacturer of release agents used by oriented strand board mills in their presses.
The production efficiency of the ACI plant enabled the company to become the dominant producer of edge sealant in the world with an estimated 90% global market share at the peak.
In addition to the North American market, shipments to Ireland, Poland and France were made from Orangeburg. Shipments of 600,000 gallons per month were common from the ACI facility.
In 1997, Louisiana-Pacific, the largest customer for ACI, was going through a corporate diversification strategy. LP’s interest in growing their business and the desire of the Rosenberg family to sell resulted in the Louisiana-Pacific acquisition of ACI.
Many of the customers, all LP competitors, were reluctant to support the competition and continued to buy their Edge Seal from ACI. In the end no business was lost at Orangeburg due to the quality of the product, the reliability of delivery and mill site service.
Eventually Louisiana returned to a core business strategy and sold the company to management, who used a San Francisco based equity firm, Industrial Growth Partners, to facilitate the purchase in December 1999.
When the equity firms financial return was realized, the firm was subsequently sold to Valspar, a Minneapolis based large manufacturer of paint and coatings in August 2004. ACI was attractive to Valspar because of the overlap of products into the industrial wood coatings market and the production efficiency of the South Carolina facility.
Today, this newest addition to Walker Emulsion allows us to expand our market reach into the southern U.S., with the Burlington plant supplying the northeastern part of North America and the Portland plant the west.