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A Colorful History

Heubach’s history is a unique story. It is a story that is typical of its time. It is a story of entrepreneurial courage and social change. And it is the story of a company that has existed for almost 700 years. Heubach illustrious history for now is completed with the merger of Heubach and Clariant pigments at the beginning of the year 2022.

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In 1350, the Heubach family began producing decorative glassware, already then using colors of mineral origin. The company thus stood for new beginnings and a new era. A time in which, 100 years later, Johannes Gutenberg was to invent the printing press not far from the cradle of Heubach’s production.

Even though the plague was raging in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages, major social changes were already on the horizon. The upcoming Renaissance was a formative change. Craftsmanship, art and science came to form a close symbiosis during the Renaissance. The desire to depict things and people grew. Creativity became highly valued.

A leap in time of more than 12 generations and almost 500 years brought new developments. At the end of the 18th century, Johann Simon Heubach began manufacturing porcelain.

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A few years later, in 1806, the foundation of the Goslaer Farbenfabrik marked the beginning of the pigment business we know today. It was carried on by Julius Westen, a partner of Louis Heubach and Eduard Heuäcker as well as Louis’ father-in-law, who built additional facilities in the towns of Oelze and Osterwieck.

And again, it was a time of great political and economic upheaval. A year earlier, in 1805, Napoleon had marched across the Rhine and over the next ten years took over almost whole of Europe. In the same year, the Frenchman Joseph-Marie Jacquard presented a weaving machine controlled by punched cards. From today’s perspective, this is regarded as a decisive trigger for the Industrial Revolution, the transition from an agrarian society to the industrial economy.

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A few decades later, another remarkable color story began a little further southwest, in Höchst on the banks of the Main. In 1863, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Meister, Eugen Lucius and Ludwig August Müller founded the “Theerfarbenfabrik Meister, Lucius & Co.”, a factory that produced paints from coal tar, a waste material from coke production. Soon after the start, Adolf von Brüning took over Müller’s shares and was the namesake for further development. The street where Heubach is based in Frankfurt today is named after him. The three inventors set a boom in motion that spread to many European countries. Several companies producing pigments and dyes were established along the Rhine. These included the aniline factory of Edouard Sandoz and Alfred Kern in 1886, the nucleus of Sandoz and later Clariant, both based in Switzerland.

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The products from these three strong roots form the foundation of the broad and bright product range of today’s Heubach Group. Pigments that are manufactured by many producers today were invented by its ancestors. One of these is Violett 23, invented in 1928 by Hoechst. It is one of the highest-volume products in the pigment sector worldwide – used in many applications. Groundbreaking successes were also achieved by Heubach with the Tico product range, products that replace chromium and lead, as well as Heubach’s anti-corrosive pigments, which mark the industry standard.

The first half of the 20th century was an eventful one for the two companies Sandoz and Hoechst. In addition to colorants, they had developed a wide range of products in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. Heubach, on the other hand, had remained loyal to pigments and grew with these core products.

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The social awakening of the 60s and 70s needed color in life. The economic upturn was based on new freedoms. It couldn’t be colorful enough. The business of the colorants divisions of Sandoz, Hoechst and Heubach flourished. Numerous subsidiaries abroad and huge exports ensured exponential growth. By its 100th anniversary in 1963, Farbwerke Hoechst AG employed a total of 63,000 people and generated 41 percent of its sales in over 70 countries outside Germany.

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Heubach also expanded: in 1984, the pigment division of Dupont des Nemours was purchased, and only a few years later another factory was built in Fairless Hills, PA.

In 1994, construction finally began on the factories in India that are now among the largest production sites for blue and green organic pigments. Further acquisitions of the pigment business of large international groups by Heubach contributed to further growth of the company.

The Swiss company Clariant surprised the market in 1997 when it bought the pigments division along with the much larger specialty chemicals division of the German Hoechst AG. This subsidiary then operated as Colorants International together with the merged Sandoz color business and was represented worldwide.

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The illustrious and century long story reached a new stage in January 2022 when Heubach Group and SK Capital, a private investment firm with focus on specialty materials, chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors, completed the acquisition of the global pigment division of Clariant AG. The Heubach Group, the new global pigments powerhouse, was born.