By: Frank Dulicai, 1976
Note from ColorantsHistory.Org: Frank Dulicai (1910-1980) was Manager-Administration for Pharma Chemical for many years. He was the nephew of Dr. Eugene A.
Markush, founder of Pharma Chemical Corporation. Mr. Dulicai wrote a personal history of the company when he retired in 1976. It is reproduced below without
Pharma Chemical was the original name of the tiny company established in 1918 by Dr. Eugene A. Markush in Bayonne, New Jersey.
The name survived for 50 years - but with difficulties! During the late 50’s and early 60’s many of the executives who assumed charge through a series of mergers
found it extremely illogical. The question was asked: “Why ‘Pharma’ when it only produces dyestuffs?”. A justifiable query, yet there is a logical explanation.
The terrible worldwide influenza epidemic of 1918 created a market for new drugs, hopefully curative, but even preventatives were well received. Hence the
somewhat suggestive name of “Pharma”. The new company’s first product was a creosote derivative - no miracle cure - but of definite antiseptic value. It
alleviated coughing and protected the mucous membranes. A short-lived product, yet the profits produced enabled the first expansion and relocation to its present
site on 52nd Street in Bayonne, New Jersey.
With prohibition on the horizon, foreign distilleries were anxious to liquidate American assets, land as well as equipment. A great opportunity for Pharma! The
acquisition consisted of two buildings - the present “H” building (lower floor was then a warehouse) - and the present “I” building (now the maintenance shop)
which represented the manufacturing facilities.
A 500-gallon cast iron autoclave, with 3-inch walls (which, by the way, was never approved for anything but atmospheric pressure) was the feature of Bldg. I. What
purpose did it serve in a distillery? The mystery has never been solved but it became Pharma’s first intermediate production unit.
Products of the 1920’s
Two of which surprisingly still have limited applications: Levanol Yellow GG and Acilan Tartrazine XXX.
The synthesis of the second one was quite involved. Due to the unavailability of other materials - started with tartaric acid. But the real money-maker … the line of
Acradine-S. Actually only one product, an orange, a bright orange at that but shaded with purchased dyes to two varying degrees of reds - all for the leather trade.
This was the age of conspicuous shoes.
The early 1930’s saw the advent of the Pharmacines. A great technological achievement - not the research nor the synthesis but the purity of the plant-produced
dyestuff. Due to the delicacy of the fiber for which they were used - silk - impurities were intolerable. Producing pure dyes in relatively crude equipment was an
achievement! It earned Pharma the reputation of “Best of the Small Ones”. This reputation was accented, many years later, by Dr. O. Loehr in his first speech to
the Pharma personnel after the acquisition by Bayer: “We wanted reputation, ergo Pharma!”
The most significant development of the 30’s was the introduction of the Pharmasols. Theretofore, an exclusive of the I.G. The famous court case which Pharma
won can be simplified as follows: “Specific formulation can be protected by patent for certain applications,
but not the application if other dyestuffs with somewhat similar formulations can be applied for the same purpose.” The court decision * earned worldwide
reputation for Pharma and just about tripled its volume. (Known as the “Markush Clause.” Has frequently been cited in present litigation not only in chemicals but in
things as remote as electronics.)
This additional volume required a new building - “M” - and additional equipment in existing facilities. In addition to the dyestuffs, Pharma undertook the manufacture
of the entire line of Naphthols and had to develop and produce its own line of stabilizers since those used by the I.G. (Sarcosine and Methyl-Taurine) were protected
by the patent.
The Poly-Azo line, introduced in the late 30’s was the pinnacle of manipulation and/or of adaptation. The motto was - “circumvent competitive patents” - i.e. if the
patent called for aniline-di-sulfonic, try naphthylamine disulfonic. Or, if the order of couplings was “alpha naphthylamine and Cleve’s acid, reverse the two and see
what happens. What did actually happen? A complete line of direct dyes, marketed under the trade name of “Pyrazolenes”, some with properties superior to those
of the competitive products. Bldg. “R” and the adjacent yard area represent the culmination of the growth during this period.
The War Years
Due to the raw material quota system and reduced labor forces it was a constant struggle until the advent of Halocrene! A component of the much needed anti-
malarial Atabrine. One day a notice appeared in a federal publication “Open to Bids: I.E. Atabrine” and the very next day Dr. Markush attended a war production
meeting in Pittsburgh and made perhaps the first and only rash statement of his entire life: “We can deliver a sample in a week”. A daring statement in view of the
fact that not even one lab experiment was attempted at Pharma prior to the date of the meeting. But the sample was delivered on time because the synthesis was
very similar to that of a basic Pharma dye. A few years later for quality and reliable deliveries, Pharma was awarded by the authorities the much coveted war
production flag - a blue background with a big blocked “E” which stood for excellency!
The Halocrene project benefited Pharma’s civilian production also. A few weeks after the delivery of the first batch, a questionnaire arrived from Washington with
the instructions to give percentages for each division: 1. war production, 2. civilian production. The answer regarding Dyestuff Division was easy, 20% and 80%
respectively. The lion’s share of the 20% consisted of fast stable salts intended for the Far East and marketed through government agencies. The hardest part of
this adventure was the packaging. Tons and tons had to be shipped in 1-kilo tins, all manually filled!
The answer pertaining to Pharma’s Pharmaceutical Division required a little imagination. Since the questionnaire did not specifically define just what could be
considered a “Division” this writer audaciously (perhaps inspired by Dr. Markush’s dare-deviltry) declared: Pharmaceutical Division - 100% War Production - even
though the “Division” occupied only one corner of Bldg. R and consisted of two glass-lined vessels and some auxiliary equipment. The 100% war production in one
Division merited increased allocations of raw materials for the other Division, the Dyestuff Division for civilian production. Thus Pharma unlike other manufacturers
suffered no loss of civilian volume during the war years. Actually, the pounds delivered during 1945 exceeded that of the 1941 total.
The Post War Years
Bldg. W was erected very shortly after VJ Day. Several new products were added to each category but no new lines emerged. Yet the several metallized direct
dyes introduced were well received and were very lucrative. The profit for 1949 would have been phenomenal but for the surtax. Management resolved this
problem by the decision: “Lets not pay excess profit taxes - instead benefit the employees”. The 1949 bonus distributed was fabulous.
1950 - 1958
Considerable effort went into the production of four dyes for the cosmetics trade. High priced, sophisticated dye intermediates. However, the Federal Purity
specifications were extremely rigid. Due to impurities carried over from the starting materials, the standards could not be met consistently thus the expected
volume never materialized. The field of optical brighteners was also entered but only on a “foot-in-the-door” scale. Even with these new products it was a period of
ups and downs with clear indications that further growth was near impossible without new product lines, ergo the acquisition of the downtown property for
additional azo production and for selected vat and triphenylmethane dyes.
Had the national economy been more stable, perhaps this venture could have been successful but as it was Pharma’s entering new fields was not received with
open arms by the competition. An unexpected and tragic price-war developed. When the vat building was on the drawing board the Yellow GC marketed for $1.75.
By the time the first batch was delivered the price was down to $1.40. To aggravate the problems, the azoic patents expired and several other manufacturers
entered the field. Heretofore, General Aniline and Pharma combined enjoyed 95% of he market. This enviable position rapidly deteriorated. The products were also
being offered as components, solutions of dyes and competition and retained its position, volume-wise, but the once high profits disappeared.
In spite of these adversities, Pharma survived showing modest profits but with imported products selling in increasingly higher quantities the future did not look
bright. While the announcement “Sold to Bayer” was received with certain apprehension in Bayonne, soon logic prevailed and it was recognized as “all for the
best”. The cool confidence of Leverkusen executives, their frequent visits and encouragement molded a team in shorter time than was expected. Yet, the first
post-merger years produced many problems. The two major ones specifically affecting Pharma were: 1) the production and profitability of volume items (such as
Chrome and Developed Blacks that Pharma always shied away from) in relatively small units when the competition had been producing them for years in batch
sizes far exceeding Pharma’s and 2) the overnight loss of intermediate production (approximately 30% of the total previous volume) due to importation. A prudent
long range decision but disastrous immediate impact while material costs decreased, the manufacturing costs increased disproportionately since no prompt
replacements were found for the lost volume to absorb the fixed expenses.
But the major top management decisions reversed the trend and by the mid 60’s both plants were well utilized. These decisions were: 1) release the Astrazons for
domestic Plant #1 production and 2) become progressively more and more basic in the Resolins which first produced in the early 60’s at Plant #2 from imported
intermediates in very advanced stages. This program, strongly advocated by Dr. H. Schran and well received by Mr. James H. Alexander, resulted in the concept
and later establishment of the Charleston plant.
Click Here for More Photos
History of Bayonne Plants 1 and 2
By: Robert J. Baptista, April 26, 1989
Robert J. Baptista-1996
Note from ColorantsHistory.Org: Dr. Robert J. Baptista worked for Bayer Corporation and its predecessor Mobay Chemical Corporation during 1972-2000. He
joined the Verona Dyestuff Division of the company as a research chemist in Bayonne Plant 1. He became Plant Manager in 1977. During the 1981-1985 period, he
was Plant Manager of Bayonne Plants 1 and 2. He wrote a personal history of the plants based on his own experiences and old newspaper clippings. It is
reproduced below with minor editing:
The Bayonne Plant 1 was founded by Dr. Eugene A. Markush (1887-1968) of New York City. Dr. Markush was born in Budapest and attended various universities in
Hungary, obtaining a Ph.D. degree. He came to the United States in 1913 and did post-graduate work at Columbia University. He was employed as a chemist for
Lederle Laboratories, a division of American Cyanamid, prior to founding the Pharma Chemical Company in 1917. Dr. Markush held 20 patents in dyestuff and
related fields, and initiated what became known as the Markus Doctrine of patent law, which was the outcome of a case involving aniline dyes (U.S. Patent
1,506,316). The Patent Office in 1925 recognized this important principle of patent law, which increases flexibility in the preparation of claims for the definition of an
The original plant consisted of a small, old wooden structure located in the vicinity of 45th Street and Avenue E in Bayonne, New Jersey. In here, Dr. Markush
produced under primitive conditions Salophen and obtained a contract for its production form the Bayer Company. In 1918, when the spread of influenza reached
epidemic proportions, there was a dire need for important drugs unobtainable in this country. It was at this time that Dr. Markush’s plant succeeded in developing
and producing Creosote Carbonate, Guaical Carbonate and Phenacitin. Hoffman-La Roche signed a contract with Pharma for the total production of Creosote
Carbonate. At this stage, the Pharma Chemical Company name was adopted.
In 1919, Dr. Markush in search for machinery, visited Nuyens Company - a French organization - who were in the process of dismantling their plants. It was here Dr.
Markush met Mr. Albert J. Farmer, who had a 40% interest in the Nuyens organization. Within a few weeks, a relationship developed between the two that lasted
until Mr. Farmer’s death. Mr. Farmer appreciated the possibilities of the Pharma Chemical Company and invested his holdings in it. Other stockholders of Nuyens,
including Charles M. Richter and Fred E. Diehl, also became financially interested in the organization. Pharma then leased a building at 169 West 52nd Street,
Bayonne, with enlarged facilities. The site, consisting of three acres, was later purchased. The Pharma Chemical Corporation was founded and organized under
the laws of the State of New York with the object of acquiring the assets and operations of the Pharma Chemical Company, which was owned outright at the time by
Dr. Markush. In the new corporate organization, Mr. Farmer became President and Dr. Markush Vice-President. In 1930, Mr. Farmer died and Mr. Charles M.
Richter, then Vice-President of Redbook magazine, acquired the Farmer family holdings and became President of the Corporation. The other stockholders’
interests were gradually absorbed by Mr. Richter and Dr. Markush.
In 1948, the Corporation acquired additional property in Bayonne consisting of 14 acres, including a deep-water pier at Port Johnson, a heavy industrial area in the
southeast section. In 1949, Mr. Richter’s holdings were absorbed by the Corporation and thus the controlling interest was assumed by Dr. Markush and Mrs.
Eugene A. Markush. On February 22, 1952 Mrs. Markush passed away.
The Pharma Chemical Corporation was the first organization in the United States to produce pyrazolones and to obtain patent rights which were exercised for many
years. This led to the development of drugs and dyes based on pyrazolones.
A complete line of developed and direct dyes for cotton and rayon was developed and marketed under the name “Dipyrazo Colors”. The wool color line was
extended and a full line of silk colors under the name “Pharmacines” was introduced by 1929. A great number of these dyes had patent protection, and became
staple items in the textile industry.
In 1931, a complete line of milling colors was developed and introduced; also, a full line of colors adaptable to silk and wool under the name “Pharmatex Dyes”.
Research work, which was initiated as early as 1920, and further developments in the years 1930 - 1932, resulted in the creation of a line of azoic dyes introduced
to the trade as “Pharmols” and “Pharmasols”. Patent rights were granted to the Corporation on this development. These dyes were used in the rayon and cotton
printing industry. Another innovation in this line was the preparation of these products in solution form, thus minimizing the work and preparations usually required
by the dyer.
Many additional developed colors were added, including a direct light fast group for cotton and union goods under the “Pyrazoline” trade-name, a group of wool
colors entitled “Pharmanil”, a line of “Pharmatrals” for hosiery and wool, and a line of chrome colors and color salts.
During World War II, when the armed forces required large quantities of Atabrine, it was found that certain equipment in the Pharma plant could be adapted quickly
to the necessity of large production of Halocrin, one of the components of Atabrin. The company was given the U.S. Certificate of Award, for the promptness with
which the most exacting requirements in quality and deliveries were met.
Research work, until 1920, was conducted solely by Dr. Markush. The research force was then expanded to support the growth of the company. Dr. Mark Mayzner
was educated in Switzerland and Mr. Meyer Gootner, of New York University, became associated with the Corporation in 1920. Mr. Julius Miller, also a graduate of
New York University, joined the Corporation in 1929. Mr. Roland Kugler, who was the Superintendent of the plant, joined the Corporation in 1919. Dr. Herbert
Whitlock joined the organization and was head of Research and Development. Mr. Frank Dulicai, Production and Administration Manager, a Columbia University and
St. Peter’s College graduate, joined the Corporation in 1941. Mr. Dulicai was Dr. Markush’s nephew. Mr. Vincent. G. Daniel joined the company as a research
chemist. In the early 1950's, Mr. Daniel was closely involved with the construction of the new plant (Plant 2) located on East 2nd Street in Bayonne. Mr. Daniel was
Plant Manager of this facility until 1957 when he became Division Personnel Manager of the company, a position he held for many years. "Vinny", as he was known,
was adept at managing labor relations and was company spokesman for the community. Mr. Dominic Del Guidice served as Plant Manager of the 52nd Street plant
from 1957 until his death in 1971.
The Port Johnson property on East Second Street was originally the location of the Babcock and Wilcox steel fabrication facility which dated back to the early 1900’
s. This large facility produced steel plate for boilers and railroad locomotives. During World War II, the U.S. goverment acquired the property, and converted it into a
military supply terminal and departure port for soldiers sailing to Europe. The site was surrounded by a high concrete wall topped with barbed wire, since it housed
Italian prisoners of war. Old timers at the plant recalled that Italian citizens of Bayonne delivered home cooked spaghetti dinners to their imprisoned countrymen on
The Port Johnson property initially had only one large building, Bldg. 6, which was set-up for drying and blending.
In 1950, Bldg. 4, the Boiler House and the first production building were started. In 1951, Bldg. 5 was built to produce Pharmacid Blue B, a large volume acid
triphenylmethane dyestuff. In 1953, a major expansion program was commenced, with the construction of Bldg. 3, an explosion-proof unit suitable for vat color
Pharma raised cash for this expansion by selling the pier portion of the property to the adjoining Lehigh Warehouse and Bulk Storage Terminal. Pharma supplied
steam to this company for many years.
In 1956, Mr. Ernest Halbach, President of the Verona Chemical Company in Newark, a producer of dye intermediates, auxiliaries and specialty chemicals, suggested
a merger with Pharma. After transferring the stocks to Verona, Dr. Markush continued as President of Pharma and consultant on technical matters until 1957
when, according to the original agreement, he retired as President. The Verona-Pharma Chemical Corporation was founded and organized in 1957 under the laws
of New Jersey.
In December of 1957, the Corporation was purchased by Farbenfabriken Bayer A.G. of Leverkusen, West Germany and operated as the Pharma Chemical Division.
In 1960, Pharma purchased the 3.5-acre “Hiller” property across the street from Plant 2, which consisted of one large building of the United Industrial Chemical
Company which produced zinc oxide. This building - Bldg. 20 - was used primarily as a warehouse, but it was also the site of dispersion, drying and intermediate
operations. This building was also part of the original Babcock and Wilcox facility.
In 1962, after the Verona Chemical plant in Newark was closed, production of their major products such as Acramin Binder SLN, Brilliant Blue IF3G and Fast Red 3GL
was transferred to Plant 2. Also included was a special photo developer called Amidol M, which was manufactured under contract for the Polaroid Company. The
distillation equipment at the Verona plant was transferred to Plant 2 for trimethyl base, a large volume intermediate for Astrazon (cationic) dyes.
In 1965, Pharma purchased an additional 6 ½ acres of open land located northeast of the plant. This property was not developed and was later sold to the adjoining
Standard Tank Corporation.
This production of trimethyl base generated sulphur dioxide, and the product itself had a pungent, fishy odor. Vat colors also generated fumes.
In 1967, Pharma invested $25,000 in air pollution equipment to alleviate neighborhood complaints of odors. Plant 2 was managed during these years by Dr. Hans
Schran of Bayer. Under his direction, the production capacity for dyes and intermediates was tripled. The major product groups were:
1. Anthraquinone Vat Dyes (Veranthrenes)
2. Anthraquinone Disperse Dyes (Resolins)
3. Acid Dyes (Alizarines)
4. Specialty Dyes (Brilliant Blue IF3G)
5. Textile Auxiliaries (Acramines)
6. Intermediates for Sale (Fast Red 3GL, Amidol)
7. Intermediates for Plants 1 and 2 (Trimethyl Base, Transketone)
Dr. Eric Diment, Finishing R&D Manager, introduced easily dispersible Resolin powders and pastes. The rapid growth of the Resolin dyes, caused by the
tremendous popularity of polyester textiles, resulted in the search for a new manufacturing location not having the environmental problems associated with a
chemical plant in the densely populated city of Bayonne. A 1,650-acre site was found in Bushy Park, South Caronlina in the late 1960’s, and a new, large scale
dyestuff plant was built which was started up in 1970 by the Plant 2 management team that transferred to Charleston, South Carolina. The major product lines of
Plant 2 and some selected products from Plant 1 were transferred to the Bushy Park plant. The employment level dropped significantly from the peak of 300 just
prior to the transfer. Plant 2 had to struggle to survive on a stripped down product line consisting of miscellaneous dyes, auxiliaries and trimethyl base.
In the early 1970’s, Pharma Chemical Corporation became the Verona Dyestuff Division of Baychem Corporation, a Bayer subsidiary later merged with Mobay
Chemical Corporation. The Bayonne plants were managed by Dr. Peter Suchanek of Bayer, who reported to Manufacturing Director Dr. Heinz Machatzke. Dr.
Machatzke came from Bayer in 1968 and was initially responsible for R&D. Plant 1 prospered, with sales peaking at about $12 million in the late 1970’s. The major
product groups were:
1. Acid Dyes (Telons, Isolans, Levalans)
2. Azo Disperse Dyes (Resolins)
3. Cationic Dyes (Astrazons)
4. Reactive Dyes (Levafixes)
5. Stilbene Optical Brighteners (Phorwites)
6. Direct Dyes (Sirius)
7. Intermediates (Pyrazolones)
In 1975, the city of Bayonne imposed a color limit on the Plant 1 effluent. This required the use of a tank truck per day of bleach. The chlorine odor caused many
neighborhood complaints, and it was obvious that the product line had to be quickly restructured to comply with environmental regulations.
Dr. Peter F. Vogt, Plant Manager, and Dr. Robert J. Baptista, R&D Manager, made the following changes:
1. Stopped production of phosgenated Sirius dyes.
2. Transferred unbleachable Resolins, Telons, Isolans and Astrazons to Bushy Park.
3. Secured $200,000 for modification of old dye equipment to make Phorwite optical brighteners for the detergent, paper and textile industries.
The Phorwites soon became the largest product group in the plant, due to the skill of chemists Dr. Thomas Hall, Dr. Thomas Thomas, Abdul Sattar and Margo
Campos. Mr. Richard Ferencz, Supervisor of Process Development, introduced new technology: ultra filtration for Phorwite liquids, and continuous belt filtration for
the isolation of the intermediate Chloroproducts. The Phorwite powders were spray dried at Plant 2. Continuous Wyssmont tray drying of Phorwites at Plant 1
based on waste heat from the boilers, was not as economical as spray drying and the equipment was sold.
In the mid-1970’s, Mobay leased from Bay Ridge Lumber Bldg. 30, a 70,000 square foot warehouse located across the street from Plant 2. This building was
originally part of the Babcock & Wilcox facility, and was later used by the U. S. Government during World War II for the preparation of military vehicles and the
assembly of weapons for shipment to the European battlefront. Mobay used the building as a bonded warehouse for imported raw materials and for finished goods.
In 1980, Mobay acquired the du Pont paper dye business for $5 million. This strategic acquisition was led by Dr. Heinz Machatzke, Vice-President of Mobay and
General Manager of the Dyes and Pigments Division, and resulted in Mobay capturing the major market share in paper dyes.
The paper dyes, mainly liquids, were very profitable, presented very little pollution problems and were quickly started up in the Bayonne Plants 1 and 2, and in the
Bushy Park plant. However, overall low capacity utilization in Plant 1 resulted in the transfer of the paper dyes and optical brighteners to Plant 2 during 1981, at a
cost of $750,000. Plant 1 closed in December of 1981 and was subsequently demolished in 1983. It is currently undergoing environmental monitoring.
For several years, Plant 2 performed well based on paper dyes, optical brighteners, textile auxiliaries, pigment dispersions and trimethyl base. Continued
environmental concerns and the need to increase the capacity utilization of the Bushy Park plant led to the decision to close Plant 2 in December of 1984. Robert J.
Baptista, Plant Manager of Plant 1 (1977-79), and Plants 1 and 2 (1981-84), transferred to the Bushy Park plant as Manager of Information, Logistics and Marketing
Services. Several chemists and twelve hourly chemical operators were transferred to the Haledon, New Jersey pigments plant and the New Jersey facilities of
Agfa, Haarmann & Reimer and Miles.
The plant site was cleaned up according to the E.C.R.A. regulations at a cost of $1 million, and was sold in 1987 to the adjoining Norton Paint Company. The sale
also included the transfer of the lease on warehouse Bldg. 30.
|Pharma Chemical-ca. 1920's
169 W. 52 Street
Bayonne, New Jersey
|Pharma Dyestuffs Ad-1927
Click to Enlarge
|Army-Navy "E" Awarded to
Pharma during WW II
|Dr. Eugene A. Markush-1947
Founder of Pharma Chemical
Click to Enlarge
|October 1, 1965 Ad
Click to Enlarge
|Plant #1 Location
|Dr. Herbert Whitlock-ca.1994
Photo: Cape Cod Times
|Pharma Chemical Corporation
Bayonne, New Jersey