Amchem History

History of Amchem Products, Inc. previously known as American Chemical Paint Company

  •  James Harvey Gravell, founded the American Chemical Paint Company (ACP), in Philadelphia, in 1914.
Print of Original Plant in Philadelphia in 1914
  • Gravell compounded and patented the first metal pre-paint cleaner chemical, Deoxidine, in answer to a serious need from the automotive industry.
  • Deoxidine protected the first automobile steel bodies from rust and corrosion.
  • Gravell called Deoxidine a “chemical paint” since it prevented rust and corrosion and therefore named the company the American Chemical Paint Company.
  • Gravell often said of those early days, “The Company was started with a bucket, a broom and a good idea”.
  • Growth had been steady and in 1924 ACP moved to Ambler, which became the corporate headquarters and major operations.
Building #1 in Ambler in 1925 with Reading Railroad tracks
  • ACP expanded not only due to the increasing popularity of the automobile, but also the wide use of metal in general, including the phenomenal growth of the aluminum market.
  • In 1935, the American Chemical Paint Company, in need of additional space, purchased the closed J.E. Marsden Glass Works and began to renovate and consolidate the properties with their existing plant facilities. The laboratory, in Building #1, was increased in size and the additional buildings were utilized in the manufacture of the chemical products, which were applied to various metals, producing products for the building and automotive industries, i.e. Henry Ford.
  • Christmas, December 1936, Gravell initiated a company profit-sharing plan and paid the outstanding debts and mortgages of his employees, at a cost of $100,000. Gravell was congratulated by F.D.R. for his “generous remembrance of your employees at the holiday season”.
Christmas Gift of James Harvey Gravell in 1936 to the ACP Employees
Letter from FDR to Gravell regarding the Christmas gift of 1936
  • ACP entered the Agricultural Industry in 1938 and started production of synthetic hormones making them available to the Agricultural Industry to control the growth of plants. Ultimately, the product Amiben was developed and for many years was marketed as the major preemergence herbicide for soybeans.

  Amchem Products, Inc. 

Amchem aerial photo from 1957
  • ACP’s name was changed in 1958 to Amchem Products, Inc. because the company did not manufacture paint.
  • Employee growth kept a steady pace and the Company’s personnel records, as of April 1971, indicated all U.S. sites totaled approximately 1,000 people on the payroll while immediately prior to World War II the company only employed about 50.
  • First commercial agricultural product developed was Rootone, a ready to use compound for rooting cuttings, which is still being marketed today. Other plant hormone products followed.
  • The agricultural business became a full division of the company as they progressed with the plant hormones and their use to discourage plant growth.

Even after the purchase of Amchem Products by Union Carbide, in 1976, many of the ACP products continue to be manufactured and marketed today by other companies. 

Several companies have been located at the Ambler site over the years…

                         

                                                  

In 2015, Ambler Yards acquired the Ambler site to redevelop the historic site into an innovative, premier workplace for the next generation.

Amchem Employee Reunions:

In 1996, the first Amchem Employee Reunion was attended by 250 former employees.  Because of the spirit, dedication and friendships formed while at Amchem, the employee reunions currently continue every two years.

Wissahickon Valley Historical Society is a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization