From farmer's son to businessman
In 1898, Dirk de Wit set up the Eerste Noord-Hollandse Olie- en Smeerfabriek (the First North Holland Oil and Grease Factory), the first wax factory in the Netherlands, later called Paramelt. He produced paraffin-based polishes for carriages and leather. With this initiative he established the basis of the wax industry in the Netherlands. In the 1930s business had expanded widely. Dirk de Wit's background - as a farmer's son - meant that he was familiar with the problems of the cheese makers and traders. To prevent the cheeses drying out and growing mould, Dirk succeeded in inventing his own solution to the problem: a 'cheese fat' based on mineral wax. Noord-Holland was an obvious location for selling cheese wax and the company developed a wide range of products.
Wholesaler, importer and manufacturer
At the beginning of the 20th century there was a growing need for all kinds of waxes for industrial applications. The company stopped producing consumer goods in its factory in Purmerend (NL) and the core business of Dirk de Wit became the import and distribution of animal, vegetable and mineral waxes. The company imported larger and larger quantities of crude wax every year from all over the world; purifying and refining this wax and trading became his most important activity. As business had grown so much, Dirk de Wit bought a disused margarine factory in Rijswijk (NL) in 1931 and set up the first laboratory.
Jonk's wax is everywhere
Some employees moved to Rijswijk with the company of Dirk de Wit, but many decided to stay behind in Purmerend. One of those who stayed behind was Nico Jonk. In 1933 Jonk started making his own cheese wax. His range of waxes was comparable with that of Dirk de Wit and his commercial activities were broadly the same too. After two moves, Jonk was looking for larger premises for his growing business, and contacted the businessman, Simon Kaper. Kaper owned a trading agency and he also used wax supplied by Jonk. Jonk felt that times were too uncertain, because of the imminent threat of war in 1939 and joined forces with Kaper. They rented an empty cocoa factory in Koog aan de Zaan. There was enough room in the market for both of them: Was de Wit NV en Jonk NV. Was de Wit put the emphasis on quality, while Jonk focused more on a sharp pricing policy. Years later in 1951, both parties conducted preliminary discussions about a close collaboration, but nothing came of it in the end. The company’s ownership and name changed several times to Witco (1968) and later to Sonneborn. In July 2023, Paramelt acquired the specialty wax activities of Sonneborn Refined Products B.V. in Koog aan de Zaan. In many ways this acquisition can be seen as a homecoming – which has even more significance in the year that Paramelt celebrates its 125th anniversary.
Risks and adventure - business during and after war
When war was declared in May 1940, the entire stock was requisitioned and placed under the control of the National Bureaux for Chemical Products (RCP) and Petrochemical Products (RAP). Company stocks and new supplies to be imported were administered and distributed by the National Bureaux. In 1941, when the end of the supply was in sight, the company switched over to crude synthetic paraffin wax imported from Germany with the permission of RAP. The company chlorinated this raw material and this was used to make grease bands for fruit trees, a product to trap caterpillars. By oxidizing synthetic paraffin wax, the company could also manufacture another product: ‘Bataaf’ release agent for baking trays. Thanks to this product, thousands of bakers in the Netherlands could continue to produce bread. After the liberation of the Netherlands, the company was renamed ‘Was de Wit’ (De Wit Wax). Shortly after the war, demand for industry for wax products began to grow. From 1950 onwards, the use of synthetic waxes and waxes extracted from petroleum increased sharply. The activities of Was de Wit expanded considerably as a result of these developments. The premises in Rijswijk were now too small and management started to look for something larger.
Paramelt in Heerhugowaard
In 1960 Was de Wit was acquired by the Sikkens Group, which was part of today's AkzoNobel. In May 1970, Was de Wit was renamed "Syntac". Around the same time in 1961, with support and capital from some well known people in the wax industry a new company was started: Paramelt. Paramelt’s plans for building its own production facility were completed in 1972 and construction started at the industrial estate in Heerhugowaard (NL). In December 1973 the new factory went in operation. In early 1977, Syntac looked for ways of ensuring its survival and approached Paramelt with a cooperation proposal. In the end of 1977 Paramelt bought all the assets of Syntac. The new name of the company was Paramelt Syntac BV. For Syntac, Paramelt came at just the right moment. And for Paramelt, Syntac meant access to a wider market with many superior products.
Europe's largest wax blender
In the 80s and 90s, Paramelt Syntac developed into a dynamic enterprise, which was growing faster than the market. Paramelt Syntac was looking to broaden its market position and many successful take-overs followed. The company name was shortened to Paramelt and in 1997 the company had combined the activities of eight formerly independent companies: Was de Wit, Paramelt, RMC, Belix, Tissco, Van Stockum, Chr. Hansen and Schlickum Werke. In 1998 Paramelt also acquired the wax activities from H.B. Fuller in Lüneburg (DE). After this take-over, the year in which Paramelt celebrated its 100th anniversary, the company could claim to be the largest manufacturer of wax specialties in Europe.
Spreading our wings
Paramelt began to spread its wings, moving into a new phase of diversification: both in terms of complementary technologies as well as geographical reach. In 2002 we made a strategic move into water-based & reactive adhesives through the acquisition of Scholten Adhesives. The business continued to operate as Paramelt Veendam B.V. In 2005 Paramelt acquired the activities of Honeywell´s Industrial Wax in Europe and Asia. With this acquisition, Paramelt secured a manufacturing location in Suzhou, China, which provided the platform for future growth in the Asia Pacific region. In October of the same year the blended wax business of H&R in Chorley (UK) was acquired and supported by a new sales office in the UK. Over the following years Paramelt invested significant effort in identifying suitable partners in North America to complete the global footprint of the business. In 2010 Paramelt completed a number of important acquisitions. These acquisitions were concentrated around the investment casting market. This resulted in a dynamic new organisation, headquartered out of Muskegon (MI), with additional manufacturing capability in both Rosemead (CA) and Cleveland (OH).
Expressing our DNA
As a result of the previous two decades activities, Paramelt entered a new phase as medium sized multinational company with the critical mass to act independently and make significant financial investments in support of technology developments and process expansion. In September 2011 Paramelt acquired Evonik’s Dilavest® thermostat expansion wax business. In October 2011 Paramelt took over the water-based labelling adhesives activities of BENEO-Bio Based Chemicals, investing in a new manufacturing capability in Veendam to enable the transfer of the production. In 2015 Paramelt acquired Valan Wax Products Ltd casting wax recycling activity, serving mainly the UK investment casting market. This was further enhanced in 2018 when we invested in a new, state of the art facility in Redditch, to allow a full upgrading of the recycling process. In 2017 the Ter Group become the sole owner and shareholder of Paramelt, increasing critical mass, strengthening the organisation and maintaining our independence. This year Paramelt celebrates its 125 years anniversary. Which we hope will be just the next milestone as our history stretches out into the future.