W.R. Grace & Co.

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W. R. Grace and Co. is an American chemical business based in Columbia, Maryland. It produces specialty chemicals and specialty materials in two divisions: Grace Catalysts Technologies, which makes catalysts and related products and technologies used in petrochemical, refining, and other chemical manufacturing applications, and Grace Materials and Chemicals, which makes specialty materials, including silica-based and silica-alumina-based materials, used in pharmaceutical/consumer, coatings, and chemical process applications.

For much of its early history, Grace's main business was in South America, in maritime shipping, railroads, agriculture, and silver mining, with 30,000 employees in Peru. In the 1950s, Grace began to diversify and grew into a Fortune 100 worldwide conglomerate. After emerging from a prolonged bankruptcy period of 12 years in 2014, the company spun off its other major operating divisions. In September 2021, Standard Industries acquired the company.

The company was founded in 1854 in Peru by William Russell Grace at the age of 22. Grace left Ireland during the Great Famine and traveled to South America with his family. He went first to Peru to work as a ship chandler for the firm of Bryce and Company, to the merchantmen harvesting guano, used as a fertilizer and gunpowder ingredient due to its high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen.

His brother, Michael P. Grace, joined the business, and in 1865 the company name was changed to Grace Brothers & Co. The company set up head office operations in New York City in 1865. Working in fertilizer and machinery, the company was formally chartered in 1872, and incorporated in 1895.

In 1904, Michael P. Grace became president after the death of William Grace.

The company expanded, creating business divisions including Grace Shipping, Grace Cruise Lines, Grace Petroleum, Grace Drilling, and Grace Healthcare. Grace acquired and combined other companies to create and expand businesses such as Barilla Pasta, FAO Schwarz, Ingersoll-Rand, Roto-Rooter, Del Taco, and Cartavio Distilleries.

In 1914, it created Grace National Bank.

In 1945, the founder's grandson, J. Peter Grace, became president. Under his leadership, the company owned the country's largest oil-drilling fleet, ran the world's largest cattle ranch and the world's largest cocoa bean company; sugar plantations in Peru; cotton mills in Chile; silver, clay, phosphate, and tin mines; and processed rare earths for the US nuclear arms program. Grace owned a food group that operated 900 chain restaurant locations, a retail division with chains for sporting goods, home improvement, jewelry, aftermarket automotive parts, and leather goods. The company operated fertilizer companies, confectioners, and beverage companies, including Miller Brewing. Grace pioneered genetic engineering at its Agricetus division in Wisconsin, and human gene therapy at its Aurigent Pharmaceuticals group. The company constructed a 160-acre research complex, the Washington Research Center, in Columbia, Maryland. It also commissioned the New York City skyscraper, the W. R. Grace Building, as its world headquarters, in midtown Manhattan, from where it directed worldwide operations, including Grace Container Products.

In 1954, the company acquired Davison Chemical Company and Dewey & Almy Chemical Company, entering the specialty chemicals and specialty materials industries.

In 1987, Grace built a can sealant plant in Minhing, China, near Shanghai, thereby became the first wholly foreign-owned, private company to do business in The People's Republic of China.

In 1953, the company became a public company via an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1954, Grace acquired Davison Chemical Company and Dewey & Almy Chemical Company, establishing the basis for the current product lines.

In February 2016, Grace completed the corporate spin-off of GCP Applied Technologies.

In July 2016, the company acquired a catalysts business from BASF.

In June 2021, the company acquired a unit from Albemarle Corporation.

In September 2021, Standard Industries acquired the company.

There are two accounts of the incorporation date of W. R. Grace & Co. According to The New York Times, the company was incorporated as part of estate and successor planning, in 1895. The three brothers consolidated most of their holdings into a new private company, incorporated in West Virginia, called W. R. Grace & Company. The consolidation involved W. R. Grace & Co. of New York, Grace Brothers & Co. of Lima, Peru, Grace & Co. of Valparaiso Chile, William R. Grace & Co. of London, and J. W. Grace & Co of San Francisco.

According to its website, W. R. Grace & Co. was incorporated in Connecticut in 1899. The listed capital of $6 million did not include Grace Brothers & Co. Limited in London or its branches in San Francisco, Lima and Callao, Peru, nor in Valparaiso, Santiago, and Concepción, Chile.

J. Louis Schaefer, who joined the company as a boy, played a key role in not only W. R. Grace & Company, in which he became a vice president, but also as president of Grace National Bank. Schaefer was a co-executor of the estate of Michael Grace with William's son and corporate successor, Joseph Peter Grace, Sr. J. Louis Schaefer died in 1927.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Charles Francis Adams, 1862-1943. South America Expedition Records 1904-1922. Harvard University, Tozzer Library
referencedIn Portrait Photograph Collection, 1930-1940 Baker Library, Harvard Business School
referencedIn Various. Freight Circulars 1859-1875 . Peabody Essex Museum
referencedIn E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Correspondence, 1805-1901. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Ivins family papers, 1885-1961, 1900-1946 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn J. Walter Thompson Company. Domestic Advertisements Collection, 1875-2001 and undated, bulk 1920s-1990s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Carrier, Bruce Alan. Bruce Alan Carrier Interview, 2002 Montana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Research Triangle Foundation Records, 1955-1999 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Lipscomb, Gaston Joel. Papers, ca. 1910-1948. Auburn University.
referencedIn Thomson, Eva Ardeen Vatland. Eva Ardeen Vatland Thomson Interview, 2002 Montana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Catron, Damon Von. Papers, 1945-1968. Iowa State University, Parks Library
referencedIn ACTWU's Research Department's Industrial Union Department Company Records, 1956-1989 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn J. Walter Thompson Company. Corporation Vertical Files, bulk 1960s-1990s, circa 1915-1999 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Ivins family. Ivins family papers, 1885-1961, bulk (1900-1946). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn ACTWU's Subject Records, 1925-1995 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
referencedIn Barnum, Richardson Company Records., undated, 1793-1925. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
referencedIn Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. ACTWU's Research Department's Industrial Union Department Company Recordss, 1956-1989. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Pease, Clarence A. G., 1887-1973. Papers, 1912-1970. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Pennock, Alfred Victor. Alfred Victor Pennock Interview, 2002. Montana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Freeland, Emile C. Emile C. Freeland papers, 1877-1975 (bulk 1926-1967). Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
creatorOf W.R. Grace & Co. W.R. Grace & Co. records, 1828-1986, bulk 1861-1960. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Learned Hand papers Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Dedrick, Carrie Mildred. Carrie Mildred Dedrick Interview, 2002. Montana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Harry Igo Papers, S476. 1., 1934-1994 and undated Southwest Collection/Special Collections Libary, Texas Tech University
referencedIn Sam Ragan Papers, 1948-1996 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Baker, Ellsworth D. [Papers]. American Textile History Museum Library
referencedIn Benefield, David C., b.1939. David C. Benefield, Interview, 2002. Montana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Clayton, Martha Harper. Papers, 1846-1884. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Passenger ship collection, 1888-1995. G. W. Blunt White Library
referencedIn Wilkins, Bob, b. 1927. Bob Wilkins Interview Montana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Bagby, Robert,. Robert Bagby photographs and other material 1948-1972 RIT Library, Wallace Library
referencedIn Crill, Michael David. Michael David Crill Interview, 2002 Montana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Noble, Michael Calvin. Michael Calvin Noble Interview, 2002. Montana Historical Society Library
referencedIn J. Walter Thompson Company. Shirley F. Woodell Papers, 1943-1958 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alexander, James Waddell, 1839-1915. person
associatedWith Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. corporateBody
associatedWith Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Arthur, Chester Alan, 1829-1886. person
associatedWith Astor, John Jacob, 1864-1912. person
associatedWith Bagby, Robert, person
associatedWith Baker, Ellsworth D. person
associatedWith Barlow, Samuel Latham Mitchell, 1826-1889. person
correspondedWith Barnum Richardson Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Benefield, David C., b.1939. person
associatedWith Bryce, Grace & Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919. person
associatedWith Carrier, Bruce Alan person
associatedWith Catholic Church corporateBody
associatedWith Catron, Damon Von. person
associatedWith Cerro de Pasco Mining Syndicate. corporateBody
associatedWith Chapman, John Jay, 1862-1933. person
associatedWith Clayton, Martha Harper. person
associatedWith Cleveland, Grover, 1837-1908. person
associatedWith Corrigan, Michael Augustine, 1839-1902. person
associatedWith Cortelyou, George B. 1862-1940. person
associatedWith Coudert, Frederic R. 1832-1903. person
associatedWith Crill, Michael David. person
associatedWith Daly, Joseph Francis, 1840-1916. person
associatedWith Dana, Richard Henry, 1851-1931. person
associatedWith Davis, J. C. Bancroft 1822-1907. person
associatedWith Davis, Noah, 1818-1902. person
associatedWith Dedrick, Carrie Mildred person
associatedWith Dodge, William Earl, 1832-1903. person
associatedWith Douglas, Robert M. 1849-1917. person
associatedWith E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Eyre, Edward, 1851-1937. person
associatedWith Fish, Hamilton, 1808-1893. person
associatedWith Fish, Stuyvesant, 1851-1923. person
associatedWith Freeland, Emile C. person
associatedWith Frye, William P. 1831-1911. person
associatedWith Gorman, Arthur P. 1839-1906. person
associatedWith Grace, Joseph Peter, 1872-1950. person
associatedWith Grace, Michael Paul, 1842-1920. person
associatedWith Grace, William Russell, 1832-1904. person
associatedWith Guardia, Tomás, 1832-1882. person
associatedWith Hallock, Charles, 1834-1917. person
associatedWith Hand, Learned, 1872-1961 person
associatedWith Harding, B. L. person
associatedWith Havemeyer, William Frederick, 1850-1913. person
associatedWith Hay, John, 1838-1905. person
associatedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878. person
associatedWith Holt, Henry, 1840-1926. person
associatedWith Hornblower, William B. 1851-1914. person
associatedWith Igo, Harry person
associatedWith Ingersoll-Rand Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Ivins family family
associatedWith Jarvis, Thomas Jordan, 1836-1915. person
associatedWith J. Walter Thompson Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Lamont, Daniel Scott, 1851-1905. person
associatedWith Lipscomb, Gaston Joel. person
associatedWith Loomis, Francis B. 1861-1948. person
associatedWith McCall, John A. 1849-1906. person
associatedWith McClellan, George B. 1865-1940. person
associatedWith McKinley, William, 1843-1901. person
associatedWith Milliken, Seth Mellen, 1836-1916. person
associatedWith Mills, Darius Ogden, 1825-1910. person
associatedWith Montt, Pedro, 1846-1910. person
associatedWith Morgan, J. Pierpont 1837-1913. person
associatedWith Noble, Michael Calvin person
associatedWith Palmer, William Jackson, 1836-1909. person
associatedWith Pan American-Grace Airways. corporateBody
associatedWith Pease, Clarence A. G., 1887-1973. person
associatedWith Pennock, Alfred Victor. person
associatedWith Peruvian Corporation, Limited. corporateBody
associatedWith Phelan, James D. 1861-1930. person
associatedWith Porter, David D. 1813-1891. person
associatedWith Porter, John Addison, 1856-1900. person
associatedWith Prado, Mariano Ignacio, 1826-1902. person
associatedWith Quincy, Josiah, 1859-1919. person
associatedWith Ragan, Sam, 1915- person
associatedWith Research Triangle Foundation corporateBody
associatedWith Robinson, Tracy, 1833-1915. person
associatedWith Rogers, Henry Huttleston, 1840-1909. person
associatedWith Sargent, A. A. 1827-1887. person
associatedWith Saunders, William Lawrence, 1856-1931. person
associatedWith Shearman, Thomas Gaskell, 1834-1900. person
associatedWith Sherman, J. S. 1855-1912. person
associatedWith Stickney, Albert, 1859-1908. person
associatedWith Straus, Isidor, 1845-1912. person
associatedWith Straus, Oscar S. 1850-1926. person
associatedWith Strobel, Edward Henry, 1855-1908. person
associatedWith Thomson, Eva Ardeen Vatland. person
associatedWith Ward, William Lukens, 1856-1933. person
associatedWith Warner, John DeWitt, 1851-1925. person
associatedWith Watts, Frederick, 1801-1889. person
associatedWith Wheeler, Benjamin Ide, 1854-1927. person
associatedWith Wilkins, Bob, b. 1927. person
associatedWith Williams, George Fred, 1852-1932. person
associatedWith Woodward, James T., -1910. person
associatedWith Yglesias Castro, Rafael, 1861-1924. person
associatedWith Zelaya, José Santos, 1853-1919. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Republic of Costa Rica 00 CR
England ENG GB
Ireland 00 IE
Republic of Chile 00 CL
New York City NY US
San Francisco CA US
New York NY US
United States 00 US
Republic of Nicaragua 00 NI
Callao 07 PE
Republic of Peru 00 PE
London ENG GB
South America
Banks and banking
Canals, Interoceanic
Mines and mineral resources
Real property
Ship brokers
Ship chandler
Capitalists and financiers
Chief executive officers


Establishment 1854

Active 2022




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