The founder of the company, Lee Shepherd, began his career with a degree in chemistry from Case Institute of Technology. He worked at industry leading companies in the growing chemical industry, through which he gained the skill and confidence to start his own enterprise. Guided by an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to establish his career in his hometown, he purchased a plot of land in Norwood, Ohio and constructed the original manufacturing facility in 1916. Three years later, in 1919, he moved the operations to a nearby site which is now Shepherd's largest manufacturing facility and global headquarters.
Shepherd’s original products were metal soaps (such as cobalt, lead and manganese linoleate) used as printing ink and paint driers. Compounds such as cobalt, lead, and manganese linoleate were manufactured at the Shepherd facility and sold into the marketplace. In addition to paint and ink driers, Shepherd’s early products included lubricant additives for use in Model T Ford planetary transmissions.
As sales of Shepherd's cobalt products grew, so did its interest in the sources of this important metal. In the 1920’s and 30’s Shepherd undertook efforts to establish supply sources of cobalt from around the world to supplement its primary sources in Canada.
Shepherd’s secure metals supply and capabilities led to it becoming a leading supplier of metal salts and carboxylates for a variety of growing applications. In the 1930’s Shepherd began to make high purity salts for metal plating applications, it also began to supply cobalt salts into the growing animal micronutrient market. In the late 1920's, the founder’s son – John F Shepherd, joined the company and began the business for manufacturing and sites of coloring oxides for use in porcelain enamel applications. Guided by the same entrepreneurial spirit as his father, John, a ceramic engineer, began his business which has since expanded into new markets such as architectural coatings. Through its focus on quality and customer satisfaction, the business grew to a stand-alone company in 1980 - The Shepherd Color Company. It is now one of the leading suppliers of complex inorganic color pigments in the industry.
During WWI, in support of the domestic manufacturers, Shepherd developed and began production of products which were previously only available from Europe. One example was lead dioxide, a key raw material in certain dyestuffs. During WWII, the founder of the company, Lee Shepherd, served on War Production Board which directed use and consumption of important industrial raw materials within the country.
The 1950’s and 1960’s saw a period of steady growth for Shepherd Chemical with expansions of its manufacturing facilities at the Norwood Site. As the refining and petrochemical industries grew in the 1960’s and 1970’s Shepherd Chemical became increasingly involved as a supplier of high purity catalyst starting materials including solutions, salts, and precipitated products. These applications required close collaboration between the Shepherd and customer technical teams and formed the foundation for Shepherd’s technical consultative approach. Shepherd established itself as a supplier for cobalt/manganese for use in PTA manufacture, cobalt and nickel compounds for use in desulphurization catalyst manufacture, and other custom applications which continue today.
Shepherd’s markets continued to grow in the 70’s and 80’s as it entered, and has become, one of the leading suppliers of cobalt based rubber adhesion promoters. Our capabilities also resulted in the development and participation in inorganic nylon heat stabilizer products. The growing battery industry is also an area which required Shepherd’s capability in high purity inorganic starting materials which Shepherd began to supply during this timeframe.
The company’s third generation of family leadership guided the company through a period of geographic expansion, during which it established itself globally. While the company was routinely selling products in all regions of the world at this time, during the 1990's Shepherd established sales offices around the world, acquired two European manufacturing facilities, and constructed a new manufacturing facility in the US. Purchase of Chempro Facility (now Shepherd Mirecourt) extended Shepherd’s organic carboxylate manufacturing and sales capability. Purchase of the Chemcat Facility (now Shepherd Widnes) expanded the company’s inorganic capabilities. Along with acquisitions pursued organic growth through the construction of a new manufacturing plant in Middletown, Ohio about 35 miles north of the original site. At the end of this period, the company’s manufacturing, sales, and logistics networks had grown to be a global enterprise.
The Shepherd Chemical Company is now operating under the leadership of the family’s fourth generation. Owing to efforts of the company’s employees since its founding, it now has the scale and resources to invest in new and exciting technologies and markets. We invite you to contact us to learn more about our plans to expand our capabilities to serve our existing customers and earn new relationships across the globe. Throughout our technical and commercial efforts, the hallmarks of quality and character continue to guide the company’s philosophy towards its customers, employees and business partners as they did in 1916.