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Dow Chemical Company and Dow Chemical Company of Canada

Dow Chemical Company Logo
Logo registered 1948; now inactive.

The Dow Chemical Company was founded by Herbert Henry Dow who was born in 1866 in Belleville, Ontario. His American parents took him to their home state of Connecticut when he was an infant. His father, Joseph Henry Dow, was a Mechanical Engineer and product Inventor and while Herbert Dow was still a child the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to follow his father’s work.

Herbert Dow attended University at the Case School of Applied Science. He began specialized research into the chemical composition of brines in Ohio and nearby areas as a university project to complete his degree in Chemistry.

In 1889 Dow filed for his first patent after inventing a process for extracting bromine (Br) from underground deposits and immediately formed his own company. After the underfunded corporation declared bankruptcy, Dow found employment with the Midland Chemical Company and in 1891 he patented a better bromine extraction process using electrolysis he called the Dow process. Dow wanting to expand his electrolysis method into other chemicals, continued to research various processes which brought him into a dispute with his employers. His time with Midland Chemical Company ended on bad terms in 1894.

Dow was not willing to accept alternative employment as a Chemist as he had a vision as to how his research and inventive nature could be put to productive use. He secured financial backing from family, friends, schoolmates and other entrepreneurs with a goal of using his personal patents and developing more. In 1895, 50 miles south of Cleveland, Ohio, in Massillon, Ohio, on the banks of the Tuscarawas River he founded the Dow Processing Company.

Not content with this step, Dow returned to Midland Ohio, the city of his previous employment as a chemist with the Midland Chemical Company and incorporated the Dow Chemical Company.

Three years after incorporation, Dow Chemical purchased the Midland Chemical Company. Dow continued research and development filing many patents for products which his company then produced as a saleable product.

Dow Chemical benefited from the fact that the majority of active chemical companies were located in Germany and with the start of WWI (July 1914) those companied were not available to any nation on the side of the Allies. Dow was able to supply chemicals needed for the war effort including chlorine, explosives, blasting agents and mustard gas. Building on his wartime success, Dow continued with research and development of new materials and products including plastics, polystyrenes, rubber and fertilizers.

One of his most successful patents was a product called DOWFLAKE™ (patent 1923 USA, 1925 Canada) which was a compound for the settling of dust and curing concrete with the added bonus of being a product that treated ice buildup on roadways on roads prone to slippery conditions. Cleveland having “lake effect” ice and snow was in great need of this product with the rise in motor vehicle use in the 1920s. This was the first product registered by Dow Chemical in Canada. At that time there was no Dow Canada, although Dow had its foot into the Canadian market with the registration of DOWFLAKE® which was soon followed by patents for DOWMETAL™ and PARADOW™.

Harold H. Dow became a powerful business figure at the helm of his corporation who until his death in 1930, just shy of his 65th birthday, continued to manufacture chemical products needed by many industries, including industrial chemicals, pharmaceutical chemicals, aromatic chemicals; chemicals useful for agricultural fertilizers. Dow did not sell their products in retail stores, focusing on sales to large industrial manufactures who used their products in the development and production of materials for the pharmaceutical, construction, petrochemical and agriculture markets.

The Dow home in Midland Ohio had an extensive botanical garden that was opened to the public in 1936 by Dow’s widow, Grace, when she started a charitable foundation in Herbert H. Dow’s name that continues to operate to this day on the earning from Dow’s personal material patents. The house has been deemed a site of historical importance and the foundation operates from the property.

Dow Chemical was asked by the Canadian government to produce materials for the war effort in 1942 and invited to open a manufacturing facility in Corruna (Sarnia) in what is known as the “Chemical Valley” to produce styrene needed to make synthetic rubber. Bayer Rubber and Polymer (later renamed Polysar) together with many other corporations were already established in the Sarnia area. This was Dow’s first manufacturing facility in Canada and Dow Canada was registered and operated as a separate corporate entity since that time.

Dow later went on to construct a plant in West Hill (now part of Toronto) Ontario, as well as Fort Saskatchewan and Prentiss, Alberta. These facilities are still operational and between the manufacturing facilities and the sale offices in Toronto and Calgary, Dow Chemical has over 54,000 employees worldwide with over 3000 of those in Canada. The industries for which Dow supplied raw or partially refined chemical components include Agriculture (fertilizer & feed), Construction, Beauty & Personal Care, Paints, Oil and Gas, Pulp and Paper, and Telecommunications and electronics. Dow continues research and development to stay at the forefront of industry needs including being a trusted supplier of sanitizer products to help combat the coronavirus threat in 2020.

Dow Chemical owns or is invested in hundreds of subsidiary corporations. This includes Rohm and Haas Canada, that share the same address of 2 Manse Road in West Hill, (Toronto) Ontario. Dow also had a short-lived merger with DuPont. Despite now being a global company, the corporate head office remains in Midland, Ohio.

Dow Chemical (Canada) also support local charities and accept application for donations on an ongoing basis in keeping with the values of their founder, Herbert Henry Dow.

Many of Dow Chemical’s facilities are listed as known asbestos sites due to the inclusion of asbestos in their buildings in an attempt to be fire rated and therefore safe. Dow, like so many other corporations not in the primary asbestos business, believed that the inclusion of asbestos was of benefit to their employees, having no knowledge of the danger that it posed to their workers.

Unfortunately, like so many manufactures, Dow has many retired employees who now have mesothelioma. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease caused by working at a Dow Chemical facility, please contact us to obtain information about the claims process. Most occupation induced asbestos claims will fall into the category of workers compensation but a phone call to find out is free. Our toll-free number is 1.877.430.3383 extension 224.