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August 26, 2008

Spartan Chemical Company: Celebrating a Half Century of Success

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It was 52 years ago when three young entrepreneurs had a dream to create a chemical company to meet the needs of maintenance professionals. In 1956, founders E.T. Swigart, Jr., Nord L...

It was 52 years ago when three young entrepreneurs had a dream to create a chemical company to meet the needs of maintenance professionals. In 1956, founders E.T. Swigart, Jr., Nord L. Simpson, and C.D. Werner started Spartan Chemical Company, Inc., which today is managed by the third generation of the Swigart family. It remains a leading global manufacturer of chemical maintenance products and industrial degreasers.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Spartan Chemical began in a 1,500-square-foot building on Summit Street in downtown Toledo, Ohio. The first product was the HD-10 All Purpose Cleaner, later renamed SD-20 and still sold today. E.T. Swigart often referred to SD-20 as “the girl that brought us to the dance.”

By 1960, Spartan products were sold through 53 distributors, had new products on the horizon and expanded its operation to 110 N. Westwood Avenue in Toledo—its home until 1994. It expanded on five or six occasions until Spartan found it necessary to eventually establish three additional satellite locations in Toledo.

During the late 1970s and 80s, Spartan expanded internationally, creating a variety of different joint ventures, licensing arrangements and international distribution.

In the 1980s, the company also launched a new product line for the metal forming industry called the Industrial Product Group—or IPG—and began establishing a network of distribution designated for that product line.

In the early 90s, the company then launched a patented chemical line based on biotechnology. This helped distinguish Spartan from the competition. So much so that in 1996, growth necessitated the building of a 600,000-square-foot plant on a 130-acre campus at 1110 Spartan Drive in Maumee, Ohio.

Spartan also diversified into the computer industry, acquiring a company called CompuClean, a software tool that was a natural fit with its end-user marketing and institutional cleaning products.

Today, Spartan manufactures close to 300 products from cleaning chemicals to disinfectants to industrial coolants and laundry products. With 500 employees worldwide, it has 500 authorized dealers, a manufacturing plant in South America and offices around the globe.

Frank Trevisani, manager of the building service contractors for Spartan has been with the company for 10 years and in the industry for three decades. He says Spartan has remained unique “in that it is large enough to service the biggest players out there but small enough to know them. The average tenure for a Spartan regional manager is 10 years and we have some people who have been with us for over 40 years. All our efforts are to making us cutting edge in the commercial cleaning market. We pride ourselves on 99-percent fill rates and can turn truckload orders around in less than six hours. We can respond very quickly and be flexible when need be.”

TODAY, SPARTAN MANUFACTURES CLOSE TO 300 PRODUCTS FROM CLEANING CHEMICALS TO DISINFECTANTS TO INDUSTRIAL COOLANTS AND LAUNDRY PRODUCTS

GREEN AND MORE

in 2002, Spartan led the national green cleaning movement with a line of environmentally preferable products called the green Solutions products. it was this line that started the “green revolution” in an industry previously dominated by yesterday’s technology.

Continuing with that proactive movement, in 2005 Spartan introduced new products, called Biorenewables, based on technology that promote renewable resources and contribute to environmental improvement.

“over the past 10 years, chemical technology has changed to the point where it once took high pH and alkaline products to clean tough dirt, which can now be done with neutral pH products with little or no harmful solvents and vocs,” explains trevisani. “We are now able to do this with products made from palm oil, soybean and oil corn derivatives. Spartan has over 17 chemists who search the globe for such technology.”

He adds that while Spartan realizes green products cannot tackle all cleaning issues, “We constantly strive to produce products that are safe for the user and the environment, but still capable of getting the job done with reduction in labor in mind.”

THE GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY 

in 2006, Spartan celebrated its 50th anniversary. looking into the future, Spartan will continue to create, manufacture and sell products to meet the ever-changing needs of the maintenance industry, while upholding its dedication to quality, cost-effective products.

“in this global economy, Spartan is focusing on scanning the world for new and creative ideas and transforming them into innovative cleaning products,” adds trevisani. “We foresee ourselves as the leaders in the green and sustainable movement. We are developing future products with technology that did not exist just three to fi ve years.”

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Lisa Kopochinski is an accomplished writer and editor with more than 20 years of journalistic experience. Her background includes working as a news anchor and reporter in television, radio and print. She has been in association trade publishing since 1987 and has written articles and edited numerous magazines, directories and newsletters for approximately 100 associations and industries across both Canada and the U.S.

Website: www.mediaedge.ca

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