The Crowley Companies: 84 Years of Service in the Chemical Industry
A Look Back in History
In many ways, the history of the Crowley Companies mirrors the evolution of the chemical industry in the United States.
September 28, 1920
Daniel L. Crowley founded Crowley Tar Products Company.
During the 1920s, the company functioned as a trading company in coal tar products and pine derived chemicals. Our coal tar products were obtained from gas manufacturing utilities in the northeast. Pine chemicals were secured in the southeastern United States and Mexico.
We built our first plant in Keyport, New Jersey, to manufacture benzene toluene, xylene, and solvent naphtha, then another in Portland, Oregon, to produce naphthalene. Both were based on by-products from manufactured gas.
Tar distillation began in High Point, North Carolina, where we made road tar, creosote oil, and methyl naphthalenes. International trade grew with imports of cresylic acid and naphthalene.
As the decade ended, utilities began receiving natural gas by pipelines, ending the manufacture of gas and resulting in the closure of our three plants.
Crowley Chemical Company was formed and our first petrochemical plant went into operation in Oklahoma City. Products included aromatic polymers and plasticizers.
From our expanded R&D, we developed compounds that enabled us to become the largest U.S. supplier of rubber reclaiming oils to tire and rubber manufacturers. Market development on amorphous polypropylene (APP) put us in the forefront of APP sales for hot melt adhesives, sealants, and single-ply roofing. Forty tank cars were in service transporting SAF-T-SOL petroleum aromatics from the U.S. Gulf to paint manufacturers in Michigan and Ohio.
Ocean going chemical tankers were built which enabled us to begin bulk shipments of solvents to Europe and naphthenic acid to Japan. Other international activities continued with exports of asphalt to Ethiopia and the Far East. Creosote oil was shipped to the railroads of Zambia and Guinea.
To serve the Midwest, we built a blending and compounding plant at Kent, Ohio. In a joint venture, we constructed a plant in Ontario to produce coumarone indene and petroleum hydrocarbon resins for the Canadian adhesive and rubber industries.
Our R&D activities resulted in the development of Viplex vinyl plasticizers, Syn-Fab polyester dye carriers, Polytac adhesives, Rosinal rubber tackifiers, Peptrex rubber softeners, Inhibitor J for oil well compounds, and Cyclo-Flo for improving oil well flow.
To meet the increasing demand for our products, we expanded our distribution system by leasing storage tanks in Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey and warehouse space in several locations. We also added to our tank car fleet.
We aided in the development of specially equipped tank transports to transport amorphous polypropylene at 375oF from Louisiana to Wisconsin, opening new markets for amorphous polypropylene. R&D added metal working rosin oil MWC-6 for the automotive industry. Polymer C was developed as a wax modifier and Polypol 19 for use in automotive sealants. Impervotar was exported throughout the world as a soil binder for helicopter fields and small airports.
A new industry came on the scene -- asphalt-modified single ply roofing. Roofing material made in the factory would simply be rolled on flat roofs. A key additive was Supertac APP which was supplied to new plants being built throughout the country.
In the northeast, we began marketing surface sealing coal tar used for airports and residential and commercial parking areas. We also started supplying creosote oil to the wood preserving industry.
In Europe, the tar distilling industry required large quantities of heavy coal tar. From Sparrows Point, Maryland, we began tanker shipments to European tar distillers of up to 60,000 tons annually.
International marketing agreements were negotiated. One was with a European tar distiller to import ultra-pure naphthalene in isotanks for manufacturers of sulphonates; another with a European producer of amorphous polyalphaolefin (APAO) for sales to the roofing industry.
Production of coal tar declined in the United States because of many coke oven closures. To fill this gap, we began tanker shipments of coal tar from several European countries to tar distillers in the U.S.
R&D expanded our range of Viplex plasticizer/extenders into new markets. Vycel U was developed for use in polyurethane systems. Research on Vycel P uncovered its unique value in fiberglass reinforced unsaturated polyesters.
Our R&D staff and our marketing groups are opening new markets. Many of our new products are free of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and are biodegradable and non-carcinogenic.
Plant expansions are underway at both the Kent, Ohio, and Oklahoma City plants. Quality control equipment and electronic data services are continually being upgraded.
During the past 80 years, we have participated in the dramatic and exciting evolution of the chemical industry. We are confident that we can meet the challenges of the new millennium with technologically-advanced and environmentally friendly products.
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