Our founder, Thomas Emery Sr., was an entrepreneur and a benevolent man ahead of his time, and his successors would follow in his able footsteps.

When recession forced his grocer, wine and hop business to close in the late 1830s, Thomas Emery Sr. took advantage of the booming meat packing industry in Cincinnati, and converted by-products into lamp oil and later candles. His sons – Thomas J. and John J. (and later J. Howard) - would join the family business, and the company would be styled “Thomas Emery and Son” and then, following the passing of Thomas Emery Sr., “Thomas Emery’s Sons”.

Emery’s History

Right about the time Thomas Edison’s incandescent electric lamp was granted a patent in January 1880, the Emery family was already involved in fatty acid research. In 1872, the company’s accounting ledger would chronicle the “purchase of four barrels of acid bottom, for experimental purposes.” - research that undoubtedly intensified when the company’s first full-time chemist, Dr. Ernst Twitchell was hired in 1886. The Emery Candle Company was by this time, known for its successful manufacturing of sturdier candles, Elaine oil (oleic acid) and sweetwater (glycerine).

Dominating also the wool lubricants business, it had an enviable international business that saw it selling more candles in Germany than in the state of Ohio! With operation largely managed by others, it was only after the deaths of Thomas Emery Sr, of Thomas J. and John J. that an Emery family member returned to the management fold. John J.’s son, Jack, visited the family business and found, “a grease factory with obsolete equipment and a sort of Dickensian office”. He returned to the family business to turn things around, thus beginning his more than 50-year involvement with the Emery company - bringing it to great heights and international fame - until his retirement in 1968 at the age of 70.


In the 175 years that the Emery brand has been in existence, we have undergone several iterations that have each contributed to our success.

The business started by Thomas Emery Sr. had already changed its address several times before settling in Ivorydale, St. Bernard, along the Mill Creek, where our Cincinnati site has been located since the mid-1880s. The company changed its name to Emery Chemical Company, and subsequently, in 1887, the Emery Candle Company was incorporated, setting in motion a legacy in manufacturing of renewable-based solutions we are known for today.

Emery’s History

After Jack Emery came on board, he consolidated the Emery Candle Company, Twitchell Process Company and Duratone Company into Emery Industries Inc. in 1935. While the company was undergoing various changes through mergers, acquisitions and growth, a different set of events was unfolding in Holthausen, Germany. Another family-owned empire started its first fatty acid/ hydrolysis plant based on the Twitchell Process on December 18, 1909. The Henkel Group went on to great expansion, establishing its presence and manufacturing plants in, among others, Düsseldorf, Loxstedt and Malaysia. In 1989, Henkel KGaA, the holding company for the Henkel Group, acquired the Emery division from Quantum, strengthening its leadership in oleochemical-based materials. The Henkel Emery Group brought together two businesses that were equally determined to include environmental issues in its R&D policies.

In 2005, the entity was called Cognis, and entered into an equal joint venture with Golden Hope Plantation (later Sime Darby Plantation) and became Cognis Oleochemicals (M) Sdn Bhd (COM). The manufacturing sites at Cincinnati, Düsseldorf, Loxstedt, Toronto and Malaysia were transferred to COM, transforming it into the biggest oleochemical player in Malaysia and second largest fatty acid producer in the world. In 2008, Goldman Sachs sold its shares to PTT Global Chemical, starting another era of this evolving brand.

Capitalizing on the company’s rich heritage, shareholders Sime Darby Plantation and PTT Global Chemical rebranded the company to “Emery Oleochemicals” in 2009. This re-emergence of the Emery name brought promise of a partnership that is committed for the long-term “to invest in growth, focus on customer needs, expand market driven R&D, and drive innovations”.


The business very quickly outgrew the first store in Cincinnati, and geographical boundaries ceased to limit our market reach ever since.

While our founder Thomas Emery Sr. was still at the helm, he expanded his manufacturing facilities four times and moved to larger premises along the way to accommodate growing demand. In the mid-1850s, he sold by-products from candle making for the lubrication of wool yarn, dominating this market east of Pittsburgh where the majority of wool mills were situated. Before the end of the 19th century, the Emery Candle Company was a thriving international business with a firm footing in North America and Europe through its sales of candles and chemicals. High quality products like Lily® stearic and Elaine® oleic acids had become unmatched standards in the industry.

Loxstedt - Neynaber (1952)

The Roaring Twenties

Through Jack Emery’s leadership that began in 1924, the company saw even greater expansion, requiring manufacturing plants in seven U.S. states, and in Canada, Europe and Australia. The chemicals industry was certainly benefitting from large-scale adoption of automobiles and unprecedented industrial growth with accelerated consumer demand and aspirations brought about by lifestyle and culture of the “Roaring Twenties”. It was also Jack’s commitment to innovation that led to significant investment in human capital and R&D, and Emery Industries’ proprietary ozone technology and new research lab in the 1950s were game-changers for the company. By the 1980s, Emery’s synthetic lubricants conquered the USA’s trucking industry with up to 85% of new heavy-duty trucks using its products.

Quality laboratory, Düsseldorf’s glycerine plant (1922)

The World Leader in Value-added Natural-based Chemicals

In parallel, Henkel’s global reach and innovation growth had spurred site expansions and technological investments at Düsseldorf including the establishment of “central workshops” with a laboratory in the glycerine factory, in mid-1920s.

As is evident throughout the Emery history, R&D is core to our business success and has become perhaps even more critical as market demands evolve. With technological advancements driving changes to our product range - from tallow candles to stearic acid to specialty fatty acids, and to now include solutions for many high-growth industries, Emery Oleochemicals continues to develop renewable-based products and in 2010, introduced a new line-up of market-based business platforms to support our vision of becoming “the world leader in value-added natural-based chemicals”. Between 2010 to 2015, USD500 million was invested to accelerate the global growth of the company.


We began with only two core products – tallow candles and lamp oils; today, we are able to offer more than 3,000 diverse products designed to meet the growing demand for high-performance and environmentally-friendly solutions.

We have always been innovative, being able to manufacture one product from another or to innovate and use by-products in making solutions for complementary industries. After transitioning from using tallow to stearic acid to produce candles, by-products comprising glycerine and oleic acid were sold to soap manufacturers and wool makers.

World Leader in Oleochemicals

In the early 1900s, a new line of Twitchell Oils and lubrication products for natural and synthetic fibres were developed, becoming the early forerunners of today’s broad line of surfactants. After Jack Emery took over, the commercial production of existing products was improved, and the Emery Candle Company would further its product line into the fields of plasticizers, synthetic lubricants and aroma chemicals with advanced proprietary technologies.

Site expansions in 1980 in Cincinnati saw the addition of one of the world’s largest fatty acid distillation columns that is capable of refining and producing pharmaceutical grade 99.8% glycerine. Later, under the Henkel organization, additional technologies, fatty alcohols and alkyl polyglycosides were brought to the site. These were also the result of research activities, which originated outside of Cincinnati, testament to Henkel’s in-depth understanding of the opportunities in the chemical industry. Our leading brand, LOXIOL®, which today is one of the plastics industry’s success stories, originated from the Loxstedt production site in 1957.

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Interestingly, Cognis’ Nutrition & Health, Care Chemicals, Organic Specialties and Oleochemicals businesses took a more customer-focused approach to its specialty chemical business and grew to supply over 2,000 products to manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble and Lever Brothers. It also provided formulations for detergents and household cleansers, cosmetics and toiletries, and organic specialties (natural-based) such as plastics, paints, coatings, lubricants and agricultural chemicals.

The Malaysia base that was established in1984 expanded the company’s reach in a region that was primed for exponential growth. As Cognis Oleochemicals, the company became the world leader in oleochemicals by manufacturing a wide range of fatty acids and alcohols. By this time, specialized chemicals for Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) lubricants, oilfield, fatty acids, glycerides, triacetine and many more were part of the product range.

With Emery Oleochemicals, the Sime Darby Plantation and PTT Global Chemical partnership combines unmatched expertise and synergy in plantations, oleochemicals and petrochemicals. This allows the company to leverage opportunities for upstream and downstream integration, benefitting customers with a comprehensive range of application-driven business solutions.

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Thomas Emery Sr. first made his products in his humble store on Sycamore Street. Today, Emery Oleochemicals processes enormous quantities of chemicals in vast state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, located in three different regions of the world.

Cincinnati, USA

Our Cincinnati site is our oldest manufacturing facility, established in 1885. It was relocated to its present location in St. Bernard, along Mill Creek, after the former site along the Ohio River was damaged by flooding. Throughout the years, it has kept ahead of technological advancements and expanded its capacity and capabilities; among many noteworthy accomplishments, it boasts one of the world’s largest fatty acid distillation columns, capable of producing 99.8% pharmaceutical-grade glycerine. Emery Oleochemicals recently invested USD50 million to grow the site’s capacity and technical capabilities in bio-polyols to drive our Eco-Friendly Polyols platform.



The history of the Düsseldorf site begins during the Henkel era, when the company’s first fat splitting plant using the Twitchell Process came on stream on December 18, 1909. When Henkel carved out its chemical division in 1999,
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this site became part of the new company called Cognis, which later entered into a joint venture with Golden Hope Malaysia (later Sime Darby Plantation). Cognis sold its shares to PTT Global Chemical, and the new entity that re-emerged later as Emery Oleochemicals would decide to divest this site to focus on specialty chemicals.
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The Loxstedt site began as an apothecary and cod liver oil factory in Geestemünde, established by Oscar Neynaber and Friedrich Albert Pust in 1898. It was here that the manufacturing of our renowned LOXIOL® brand began in 1957. Its journey towards becoming an asset
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of Emery Oleochemicals mirrors that of our Düsseldorf site, when it too was also transferred to Cognis during the carve-out.
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Telok Panglima Garang, Malaysia

The youngest among our suite of manufacturing facilities, the Telok Panglima Garang site has seen the fastest growth and largest investments in tandem with the accelerated urbanization in the region. Henkel Oleochemicals brought the TPG site on stream in 1984. The facility is located in a Free Trade Zone, and is Halal and Kosher-certified.