Company

135 YEARS AGO - 1882

Degussa goes America

Our company’s activities in the United States have their beginnings in a fourroomed rental apartment on Fulton Street 135 years ago in 1882 in what is now the New York borough of Brooklyn.

There, next to his living quarters, the 26-year-old Franz Roessler set up a small laboratory in which on July 1 he began producing gold foil for decorating porcelain and glass. The younger brother of Degussa’s two founders, Hector and Heinrich Roessler, had only immigrated to the United States shortly before. He had been given 30,000 Mark to take with him by the supervisory board of the Frankfurt-based company with instructions to establish a business in North America and meet the growing demand in the U.S. porcelain and glass industry for high-quality decorations.

Within a very short time, Franz Roessler was so successful that Degussa decided to expand its activities to include the distribution of chemical products. To this end, Jakob Hasslacher, who had done a commercial apprenticeship at the Frankfurt headquarters, traveled to New York. When he, too, demonstrated rapid success, Degussa decided as early as 1885 to give its American business a firm basis by founding Roessler & Hasslacher Co., New York. Franz Roessler and Jakob Hasslacher put up 25 percent of the capital and Degussa furnished the remaining 75 percent.

Roessler & Hasslacher Co. immediately transferred the gold foil production operations to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where the first production facilities for acetone and chloroform additionally came on stream in October 1885. Four years later, the company was reorganized as a stock corporation named The Roessler & Hasslacher Chemical Co., New York, which soon took over Degussa’s entire production portfolio for its plants in Perth Amboy and Niagara Falls and became one of the largest importers of chemicals in the United States. Only World War I put a temporary stop to the rapid growth in business (see 1917).

Today, the North America region is one of Evonik’s growth markets. Following its recent acquisition of Air Products, Evonik now has over 4,660 employees in this region.