|"History of Keystone Aniline Corporation"
by Arthur J. Andrews, Chairman, May 17, 2001
Keystone Aniline Corporation
Keystone Aniline was founded in 1920 by William Peck, then a branch manager for National Aniline. The Chicago branch of National
Aniline was doing most of its business in the then new dry-cleaning industry because of the preponderance of the textile manufacturing
was then centered in Northeastern U.S. The connection with that industry was the spoon dyer that nearly every drycleaner had in the back
room to do garment dying. Garment dying, in those days was entirely done on garments that had been worn and of particular
importance were the WW 1 uniforms that the “doughboys” brought back after the “war 10 end all wars”. The dyes that were sold were
“Union” dyes composed of acid and direct dyes, the idea being to dye both wool and cotton fibers to the same shade in the same
Bill Peck took the entire National Aniline Chicago branch sales force with him when he left to establish Keystone Aniline and Chemical
Company, Inc. The sales force continued to call on the same accounts and Keystone developed into an exact parallel of National Aniline,
with the same line of products. Mr. Peck died within the first year that the company was established. He was succeeded by his son
Thomas, who successfully ran the company until 1950. Throughout that period, the emphasis was on chemicals for the dry-cleaning
industry because of the company’s outstanding chemist in dry-cleaning chemicals formulations and a sales force that was
knowledgeable in that business. However, the dyestuff business continued and remained important, especially during the war years of
WW II and immediately thereafter.
I was hired in 1950. Mr. Peck had a historical attachment to the dye business and one of my duties, after I was hired, was to see if I could
enhance Keystone’s participation in it. While I am a chemist with a Masters Degree , I had never worked in the dry-cleaning business. My
previous experience was in dyes, gained by working on packaged home dye formulations produced by Rit Products Corporation.
I left Keystone in 1953 for supposedly an opportunity that was never materialized. Peck called me in mid-1957 and asked if I would return
to Keystone as a 50 percent partner if he put in $60,000 in the capital account because Keystone was down to a zero net worth. He
wanted to see if we could salvage the business that his father had founded and which had been a profitable operation for nearly 35
years. I acquired the full ownership of Keystone in 1973.
As it is well documented, the 1960’s began the gradual demise of the dyestuff manufacturing industry in the United States. Every
manufacturer had a laboratory and warehouse in all the large metropolitan areas and as these facilities were closed during the next two
or three decades, there came an opportunity for Keystone to fill the warehouse and technical service gap. Keystone’s first success in
this direction was with Allied Chemical (now Allied Signal) when they turned over to us all less than full container (drum) business and
customers that were not large enough to warrant being serviced by them. We were chosen for this because of our historical connection
with National and because our warehouse contained mostly National Aniline dyes.
From the late 70’s into the 80’s and 90’s the major American owned dye manufacturers closed down their manufacturing facilities. The
German, Swiss and other Europeans who had established operations in the U.S., most recently have been forced to deal with
competition from the Asia and much of their production in the United States has been closed or significantly reduced. The void left by the
departure or severe reduction of product and technical services allowed Keystone to expand their dye business by offering strong
technical support and the wide range of products required.
As soon as my sons graduated from college they joined Keystone; John in 1976 and George in 1979. Keystone filled the warehouse and
technical support vacuum and became a full service distributor, compounder and processor of a wide range of dyes and a key player in
the industry. We now have full service laboratories in Chicago, Los Angles and in South Carolina. We have warehousing, repackaging
and blending facilities in all of these locations and an office and warehouse in the U.K. We have distribution arrangements with nearly
every dyestuff producer in the world and we can offer very nearly any dye that is produced, mostly from our own warehouse. Keystone is
now one of the largest and best-equipped dyestuff suppliers in the U.S.
Thank you for the opportunity to present to you a history of our company. We came into being at very nearly the start of the American
Dyestuff Industry and have survived to what, for practical purposes, is its decline. In some ways, a sad story.
ColorantsHistory.Org thanks Gary Mock for providing this history of Keystone Aniline Corporation, written by Arthur J. Andrews,
Chairman, on May 17, 2001.
Click here for Keystone Aniline website www.dyes.com