Spolchemie celebrates 165 years of existence
In mid- February, we are celebrating a significant and almost unbelievable anniversary: our 165th birthday. Exactly this many years ago – on February 13th, the company SPOLCHEMIE – Spolek pro chemickou a hutní výrobu, the Association for Chemical and Metallurgical Production, was established under the then still German name. This took place in 1856 at Prince Schwarzenberg´s Palace in Vienna at the inaugural meeting of the founders, made up of the Austro- Hungarian aristocracy and leading businessmen. They were approached by Christian Gustav Clemm and presented with ambitious plans to establish a large chemical company. By comparison, the chemical giant Bayer wasn´t founded until seven years later. Thus today, Spolchemie is a member of an elite group of the longest, continuously functioning chemical plants in the world and rightly belongs amongst the family silver of Czech industry.
The company has been based, since its very beginning, in the city of Ustí nad labem, due to its attractive location near the source of raw materials, where inorganic chemistry operations began production in just a few years. The word “metallurgical”, which became part of the company´s name due to the expectation that reserves of non-ferrous metal ores were in the nearby Ore Mountains, has remained in the company´s name as silent witness to an idea which has never been confirmed and the company never pursued metallurgy. Nevertheless, by the end of the 19th century, we had become the largest chemical plant in then Austria-Hungary and within a European context, one of the most important.
After the independence of Czechoslovakia, the composition of shareholders began to be dominated by Czech capital represented by Živnobanka. In the 1920s and particularly in the 1930s, the company diversified its group structure and represented practically the entire Czech chemical industry. We were at the birth of today´s successful companies – Synthesia Pardubice and Spolana Neratovice.
Chemical plants Sokolov, Tonaso Neštěmice, in Slovakia, Novacké chemical plants and others. From the very beginning, the basic plant in Ustí nad labem was primarily designed for the production of inorganic products. At the turn of the century, the field of organic dyes and semi finished products was added, representing numerous and demanding organic technologies and processes. After nationalisation in 1945, the group structure fell apart and its former significant standing was lost over the years, although its fundamental importance remained in some fields within the economic organisation of the Eastern bloc of the CMEA.
In the 1950s we began to develop the production of synthetic resins and today, epoxy resins are one of the main pillars of our current production. At the end of 1990 the company became a joint-stock company once more – at this time it was producing more than 500 products, from dyes to cosmetics preparations. However, the product range, like the company itself, had to be significantly restructured in the coming years and increasingly focused on chemistry with a high added value – such that has a chance to succeed worldwide in the most demanding markets. We are successful in this to this day. The latest in out recent successful chapter of modern history began to be written in 2020, when we became part of the Kaprain Investment Group. This allows us to not only further develop, but also to deal with all the new challenges of the 21st century. We are currently not only one of the leading European producers of synthetic epoxy resins and inorganic chemistry, but also a major Czech exporter (we export to tens of countries on five continents), and we are also one of the most important regional employers.
Today, in contrast to ancient history, we place a fundamental emphasis on ecology and sustainability - the company's premises no longer resemble smoking factories like in the "Steel City". Billions in investments in environmentally friendly operations (for example, modern ecological membrane electrolysis), fundamental reduction of emissions, we take waste production and pollution as our clear duty and responsibility. The rest of our products also help in the fight against global warming - whether it is components for wind power plants or the automotive industry or a new project that can significantly help in the fight against the creation of so-called greenhouse gases.