|Omar T. Frick (1870-1949)
Founder of Standard Ultramarine & Color Company, Huntington, West Virginia
Omar T. Frick Biography
By Robert J. Baptista, February 12, 2005
Omar Theobald Frick was born December 17, 1870 in Evansville, Indiana. His parents were Peter and Susan Frick. Peter Frick was
born in Rhea, Switzerland and came to the U.S. in 1868.
Frick was educated in Evansville schools. He started his career as an assistant bookkeeper with Standard Oil in his hometown. He
moved to Chicago and worked for Marshall Field’s merchandising emporium. In 1894, Frick married Margaret B. Shelly of Peoria,
Illinois and they had one daughter, Marcia. He became a salesman for the S.P. Shotter Company, an exporter of naval stores (rosin
and turpentine) with a branch office in Chicago and headquarters in Savannah. In 1902, Frick moved to Savannah to work for the
American Naval Stores Company, the largest exporter of naval stores in the South. He eventually became general sales manager of
In 1909, having demonstrated strong business development and managerial skills in his career, Frick established the Standard
Ultramarine Company in Tiffin, Ohio. Ultramarine is a blue pigment that was widely used at the time as laundry bluing, which has a
whitening effect on laundered items. The process had technical problems that could not be solved by Frick’s chemist. In 1910, Frick
engaged the services of Henri Dourif, a chemist from France who was experienced in ultramarine manufacture. Dourif solved the
problems and began a long business relationship with Frick.
The Tiffin plant was flooded when the Sandusky River overflowed. Production of ultramarine in Ohio was also expensive due to the
high cost of natural gas. These factors led to the search for a new production site. Frick found that natural gas was cheaper in West
Virginia and located some property in Huntington for a new plant. The City of Huntington was anxious to attract new investment and
offered the property free. The original site was only a half acre on Fifth Avenue, just east of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway.
Construction was begun in 1912 and the plant began operations in 1913 as the Standard Ultramarine and Color Company. The small
company, initially employing 20 persons, prospered due to the business talents of Frick, company president, and the technical skills of
Dourif, vice-president. The plant was expanded several times, growing to 27 acres and employing up to 500 persons. The company
supplied colors in 600 shades to industrial markets in the U.S. and exported products worldwide.
Frick was a leading figure in the industrial, civic and social life of Huntington. He was a charter member of the Rotary Club, formed in
1916. He helped establish the Huntington Manufacturers Club and was vice-president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association.
He served as a director of the Union Bank & Trust Company and was president of the Huntington Community Chest from 1927-1932.
He was active in Republican politics in West Virginia.
Frick was one of the founders of the First Church of Christ Scientist in Huntington and was president of the congregation for a number
of years. He was outstanding as a leader of the Huntington’s cultural resources. During the 1938-1943 period, he served as president
of the Huntington Symphony Association. With a strong tenor voice, he enjoyed singing in choral groups and was a supporter and
president of the Huntington Choral Society for many years. He was named "Citizen of the Week" in Huntington on several occasions.
After World War I, Frick traveled widely. He and his family made trips to Europe (1923), China and Japan (1929). His first wife Margaret
died on September 28, 1945. On December 28, 1948, he married Mrs. Howard O. Dunbar, formerly of Toledo, at Fort Lauderdale. He
had a winter home in Fort Lauderdale and a summer home in Michigan.
In the early part of October 1949, Frick suffered a heart attack. He initially showed signs of recovery, but relapsed and died October
20, 1949 at his home “Hillcrest” in the Park Hills area of Huntington. Survivors included his second wife and his daughter, Mrs. Claude
W. Stewart of Huntington.
1) "O.T. Frick, Industrial Leader, Dies", The Huntington Advertiser, October 20, 1949, pp.1, 37
2) "Frick Services Set For Sunday", Huntington Herald-Dispatch, October 21, 1949, pp. 1, 45
3) "Maj. Henry Dourif Is Dead at 85", The Huntington Advertiser, February 21, 1967, pp. 1, 4
4) Williams Haynes, American Chemical Industry, Vol. III, p. 102 (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1945)
5) George S. Wallace, Huntington through Seventy-Five Years, p. 158, (Huntington, West Virginia, 1947)
6) Bob Withers, "Printer's Future Written in Blue Ink", The Herald-Dispatch, March 20, 2005
ColorantsHistory.Org thanks the staffs of the Cabell County Library, Local History/Genealogy Room and Marshall University, James E.
Morrow Library, Special Collections Department for supplying historic documents for this biography.
Omar T. Frick Biography
|View of Huntington, West Virginia from Park Hills Location of Omar T. Frick's Home "Hillcrest"
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