LUBRIZOL CORP., a diversified chemical company ranked 344th among the Fortune 500 companies in 1985, was founded on 28 July 1928 as the Graphite Oil Prods. Corp. by Francis A. "Alex" Nason, Thos. W. James, and three brothers: KENT H. SMITH, Vincent K. Smith, and ALBERT K. SMITH. Graphite Oil began production of lubricants in a garage on E. 93rd St. but soon moved to 9016 Manor Ave., changing its name the following year to the Lubri-Graph Corp., after a product of the same name designed to lubricate leaf springs on early automobiles. In 1931 the firm bought the former Clark Chemical Co. in Wickliffe to expand its lubricant and lubricating machinery production and employed 70 people in June 1934, when it became the Lubri-Zol Corp. A company research program, supervised by CARL F. PRUTTON, enabled it to introduce new products for the changing automobile industry during the 1930s and to meet the new demands for lubricants during World War II. Lubrizol's earnings more than doubled between 1940-45; its revenues were more than $11 million in 1943.
In 1942 the firm ended its retail operations to focus on research and production, building a new chemical-research facility in Wickliffe in 1946. It built a new manufacturing plant near Houston, TX, in 1950 and began to sell its products abroad. Between 1951-62, Lubrizol subsidiaries in 5 foreign countries established their own production facilities. After its first public stock offering in 1960, the company was placed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1966, and during the 1970s its sales and income increased annually. With headquarters at 29400 Lakeland Blvd. in Wickliffe, Lubrizol invested in new technologies by acquisition during the 1980s and expanded its output to include products for agribusiness and research into pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. In 1995 the corporation had 29 subsidiaries, annual sales of $1.6 billion, and a net income of $176 million.
In 1999, researchers at Lubrizol dedveloped a product called PuriNox, a diesel fuel designed to reduce emissions from heavy machinery, such as buses and construction equipment, by as much as 50 percent. In 2002, Lubrizol donated patents valued at approximately $22.4 million to the Cleveland Advanced Manufacturing Program administered by ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT, INC. Other notable gifts in Lubrizol's recent history included nearly $28 million raised from Lubrizol employees by former chairman M. Roger Clapp for the construction of the Kelvin Smith Library at CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY.
In April 2004, executives at Lubrizol announced that they would acquire Noveon International, a specialty chemical maker based in Brecksville, for $1.84 billion. Expected to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lubrizol, architects of the deal expected it would add nearly $1.2 billion in annual revenues to Lubrizol's annual sales, which were just over $2 billion in 2003. Based in Wickliffe, Lubrizol employed 5,200 in its 37 facilities located around the world in 2004.
Smalheer, Calvin V. Additives: The Story of Lubrizol (1972).