Dupont

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E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) is a global science and technology company. It is involved in a range of different industry areas, including high-performance materials, synthetic fibres, electronics, speciality chemicals, agriculture and biotechnology. [1]

Contents

Market share/importance

According to Forbes magazine DuPont is the 33rd largest company in the US, ranking 17th in terms of profit this year (2002). [2] The company is the second largest chemical manufacturer in the US and is also the world's largest seed company. [3]

Chemicals provide the main focus of DuPont's operations. According to the company's annual report, it is the global leader in the sale and manufacturing of nylon and is the world's largest manufacturer of titanium dioxide, elastane and fluropolymers. The company also claims to be the world's leading automotive coatings supplier and a leading global manufacturer of industrial and speciality flurochemicals. In addition, DuPont is apparently a world leader in supplying resins and films for the packaging and selected industrial markets, advanced electronic materials to the global electronics industry and holographic optical components and holograms for electronics, security and authentication applications. [4]

DuPont's principal competitors include major chemical companies based in the United States, Europe and Asia (principally Japan, China and Korea). Arch-rivals include BASF AG, Bayer AG and Dow Chemical. [5] According to the company's SEC filing, competitors offer a comparable range of products from agricultural, commodity and speciality chemicals to plastics and fibres products. The company also competes in certain product markets with smaller, more specialised firms and with petrochemical operations in oil-producing countries. [6]

Since acquiring Pioneer Hi-Bred in 1999, DuPont has become the world's largest seed company, with sales of more than $1.9 billion in 2000. [7] It sells hybrid seeds principally for the global production of corn and soybeans, and thus directly competes with other hybrid seed suppliers. DuPont's Agriculture & Nutrition segment also provides crop protection chemicals. In addition, the segment provides soya based food ingredients and food safety equipment in competition with other major grain and food processors. [8]

History and Strategy

An explosive beginning

E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company was founded in 1802 on the banks of the Brandywine River near Wilmington, Delaware in the US. [9] The company began life as a partnership in gunpowder and explosives, becoming the nation's largest gunpowder manufacturer by 1811. [10] When the company was incorporated in 1902, it controlled 36% of the US powder market. By 1905 it held a 75% share. DuPont alone was responsible for 56% of the national production of explosives and, with $60 million in estimated assets had become one of the nation's largest corporations. The company was so dominant that in 1907 the US government initiated anti-trust proceedings against it. In 1912 the company was deemed a gunpowder monopoly and was ordered to divest itself of a substantial portion of its business. [11] Despite having been streamlined, DuPont still managed to supply 40% of all explosives shot by the Allied forces during World War I (1.5 billion lbs). [12]

DuPont gradually diversified into other areas of business, besides explosives, in the early part of the 20th century. The experiments by the company's chemists with a product known as guncotton, an early form of nitroglycerine, led to its involvement in the textile industry. After the end of World War I, the peacetime use of artificial fibres proved to be more profitable than explosives. In the 1920s DuPont acquired the rights to make cellophane from a French company. Researchers from DuPont managed to produce moisture-proof cellophane, transforming it from a decorative wrap to a packaging material for food and other products. The 1920s also saw DuPont acquire General Motors, and enter into a 50-50 joint venture with Standard Oil (now known as Exxon) to produce and market the lead additive in petrol (known as ethyl). The new company was called the Ethyl Corporation. [13]

Economically, the company's most important discovery was Nylon. This product was first created in 1930, by a polymer research group headed by Wallace H. Carothers. A large number of synthetic products followed. These included Lucite (a clear, tough plastic resin), Teflon (a resin used in non-stick cookware), Butacite PVB interlayer (a plastic used in automotive safety glass) and CFCs. [14]

The Second World War - making a killing (again)

World War II brought even more profits for DuPont. Over the course of the war the company produced 4.5 billion pounds of military explosives. [15] The company was also heavily involved in weapons research, making major contributions to the development of plastic and other forms of explosives, gun and rocket propellants, and chemical warfare. From 1941-1945 DuPont contributed to the top secret Manhattan Project that was to produce the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The company was also the principal mass producer of plutonium in the US, having designed, built and operated the world's first plutonium production plant, the Hanford plant in Washington, at the request of the federal government. It also designed, built and operated the Oak Ridge pilot plant in Tennessee. [16] During the war DuPont managed a total of 25 US government plants, manufacturing mainly explosives, methanol, ammonia and neoprene rubber. DuPont profited immensely from the war, emerging from the fighting with a cash fund exceeding $196 million. [17]

1945-1980: the rise and fall of fibres

The post-war years brought further discoveries for DuPont, including Mylar (a strong plastic film), Dacron polyester, Orlon (a bulky acrylic fibre) and Lycra. The company quickly became known as the world's most proficient synthesiser, and the range of textiles it supplied reoriented the whole synthetics industry. [18]

The company faired extremely well, on the back of its discoveries, until the 1970s when the fibres industry stagnated from overcapacity. DuPont's stream of discoveries had fostered the company's over-dependence on fibres, without the company looking elsewhere for new products. When the demand for fibres collapsed in the mid 1970s, DuPont was in trouble. [19]

Instead of attempting to diversify, the company concentrated on repairing its old business. DuPont's rebuilding efforts were hindered by its reduced commitment to research and development however. The company's continued reliance on fibres caused it to be one of the worst hit chemical companies in the 1980 recession. [20]

Diversification in the early 1980s

Since DuPont was completely reliant on petrochemicals to produce the vast majority of its products, in 1981 the company purchased the petroleum company Conoco. The merger, which was the largest in history at the time, protected DuPont from the rise in crude oil prices, giving the company a competitive advantage. [21] The move also helped secure DuPont's position as one of the worst air polluters in the US. [22]

In the 1980s DuPont began to reduce its dependence on synthetic fibres, beginning with the purchase of Remington Arms (a manufacturer of sporting firearms and ammunition). The Remington Arms unit of DuPont made several multimillion-dollar contracts with the army to operate government owned plants, bringing the company greater financial security. Other purchases in the 1980s included the New England Nuclear Corporation, a leading manufacturer of radioactive chemicals for medical research and diagnosis. [23]

The 1980s also saw DuPont branch out into the life sciences. The company began to delve into the development and production of biomedical products and agricultural chemicals and in 1982 purchased the agri-chemicals division of SEPIC. In addition to mergers and acquisitions, DuPont became heavily involved with joint ventures. [24]

Maximising profits in the late 1980s

After the acquisition spree of the early 1980s, in the late 1980s management decided to return to its former policy of focussing on areas of maximum profit. The company began moving away from commodity production, instead concentrating on oil, healthcare, electronics and speciality chemicals. [25]

The early 1990s - further streamlining

The onset of the Gulf War drove up oil prices and refinery margins leading to profits of over $1 billion for Conoco in 1990. However, a worldwide recession was hurting most of the rest of the company. The same year, DuPont entered into a pharmaceutical joint venture with Merck. DuPont later acquired Merck's share of the venture in 1998. [26]

Throughout the 1990s DuPont continued to streamline itself, shedding its unprofitable businesses and getting rid of 36,000 of its employees. In 1993 the company sold its Remington Arms business. It also sold its acrylic business to ICI and in turn bought ICI's nylon business and later its worldwide polyester films, resins and intermediates business. By acquiring the ICI polyester technology DuPont could make plastic bottles, unfortunately a growing market, for less than anyone else in the world. The company also increased its marketing of synthetic fibres, finding new uses for its Lycra, Tyvek and Kevlar products. [27]

DuPont accelerated the globalisation of the textile industry in the mid 1990s, taking advantage of the cheap labour and lax environmental standards in the developing world. The company set up joint ventures to manufacture Lycra in China and nylon in India, Brazil and Mexico. [28]

The late 1990s - DuPont goes GM

DuPont reaffirmed its commitment to the life sciences as a core business area in the late 1990s. The company saw the bioindustrial, pharmaceutical and feed and food industries as potential areas for the increasing integration of chemistry and biotechnology. In 1997 DuPont acquired an interest in Pioneer Hi-Bred International, the world's largest seed company. The company also acquired Protein Technologies International, a leading supplier of soya proteins. In 1999 DuPont shed its Conoco subsidiary, using the money to invest in its growing biotech business by assuming 100% ownership of Pioneer. [29]

The year 2000 saw DuPont produce the polymer Sorona. Although petrochemical derived, DuPont scientists hope to be able to produce plant-based Sorona fibres. It appears that DuPont is hoping to move into producing genetically modified plant-based fibres as an 'environmentally friendly' alternative to synthetic fibres. [30]

In 2001 DuPont announced it would sell its pharmaceutical business to Bristol Myers Squibb. [31] The company continued to 'streamline' its workforce, shedding a further 14,000 staff through restructuring and sell-offs. [32]

Details of the company's current strategy can be found in the company's annual data book at:

http://www.dupont.com/corp/news/publications/dupfinancial/01databk.pdf

Products/Projects

From the time people brush their teeth in the morning using a toothbrush with DuPont Tynex nylon bristles, to the time they go to sleep at night with a pillow filled with DuPont Qualifol polyester, DuPont products have become an essential part of daily life.

DuPont is a company that is difficult to boycott in the developed world, producing everything from plastic bottles to seeds and textiles. The company currently owns over 20,000 worldwide patents and over 14,000 worldwide patent applications. In 2001, the company was granted almost 500 US patents and over 1,800 international patents. The company also has over 2,100 unique trademarks for its products and services and has over 23,000 worldwide registrations and applications for these trademarks. [33]

Some of the company's more well-known brands include Teflon resins, SilverStone non-stick finish, Lycra brand spandex fibre, Stainmaster stain-resistant carpet, Antron carpet fibre, Dacron polyester fibre, Kevlar brand fibre, Corian solid surface material, Mylar polyester films, Tyvek brand protective material, and Coolmax and Cordura textile fibres. [34] The company also manufactures Solae soy protein which can be found in a number of foodstuffs marketed by other companies, such as So Good soy milk. A full list of the brands which contain Solae can be found at:

http://www.solae.com/soyproteinproducts/brands/brandindex.html

This year the company underwent a restructuring that consolidated its eight business units into six. These segments produce coatings (automotive finishes and coatings), crop protection chemicals and genetically modified seeds, electronic materials (LCDs, sensors, and flurochemicals), polymers and resins for packaging and other uses, and safety and security materials and chemicals. The least profitable of DuPont's six segments, Textiles & Interiors (nylon and polyester fibres and intermediates, including the Lycra and Stainmaster brands), could be spun off as a separate company. [35]

A further breakdown of the company’s products and projects and their contribution to overall revenue can be found in its annual Data Book at:

http://www.dupont.com/corp/news/publications/dupfinancial/01databk.pdf

A complete list of the company's products and services can be found at:

http://www2.dupont.com/Directories/en_US/Products_Services_Index/index.html

People

J Erik Fyrwald is reported to be Group Vice President of DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition (since 2003)[36], after having served DuPont in a variety of areas since he joined them in 1981. Fyrwald also serves on the boards of Eli Lilly and Company, CropLife International President's Advisory Group, Des Moines Art Center, Greater Des Moines Partnership (Public and Private Collaboration) and The Solae Company.

Public Relations and Lobbying

In 2008, Dupont is listed as a member of the American Benefits Council[37] and as a client of The Gorlin Group[38]

Affiliations

DuPont (UK) Ltd was a donor to the Science Media Centre from September 2002 to October 2004 according to the SMC.[1]

Resources

References

  1. ^ Yahoo! (2002) Profile, http://biz.yahoo.com/p/d/dd.html, viewed 21 Oct 2002
  2. ^ The Forbes 500s 2002, viewed 23 Oct 2002
  3. ^ Company capsule, Hoovers Online, http://www.hoovers.com/co/capsule/7/0,2163,10487,00.html, viewed 23 Oct 2002; 'DuPont and Monsanto - Living in Sinergy?' ETC Group news release 09/04/02 http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?id=215
  4. ^ DuPont Annual Report 2001 http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/nys/dd/reports/ar2001.pdf, viewed 23 Oct 2002
  5. ^ Company Capsule, Hoovers Online http://www.hoovers.com/co/capsule/7/0,2163,10487,00.html
  6. ^ US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form 10-K, for the year ending 31st December 2001 http://www.secinfo.com/dr89b.38g.htm, viewed 22 Oct 2002
  7. ^ 'DuPont acquires Pioneer', Institute for Applied Ecology, Genetic Engineering Newsletter August/September 1999 http://www.biogene.org/e/themen/biotech/e-news1.html, viewed 23 Oct 2002; ETC Group (2002) 'DuPont and Monsanto - Living in Sinergy?', 9 May 2002 http://www.rafi.org/documents/nr2002apr9.pdf, viewed 22 Oct 2002
  8. ^ US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form 10-K, for the year ending 31st December 2001 http://www.secinfo.com/dr89b.38g.htm, viewed 22 Oct 2002
  9. ^ DuPont.com: DuPont Heritage http://heritage.dupont.com/
  10. ^ Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London
  11. ^ http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/EI-du-Pont-de-Nemours-amp;-Company-Company-History.html
  12. ^ DuPont.com: DuPont Heritage http://heritage.dupont.com/
  13. ^ Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London; A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont http://www.groundup.org/fcorp.htm, viewed 2 Nov 2002
  14. ^ DuPont (2002) DuPont Overview: 200 Years of History, viewed 25 Oct. 2002; Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, 26: 123-127, St. James Press, London; A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont, viewed 2 Nov. 2002.
  15. ^ DuPont Overview: 200 Years of History, viewed 31 March 2002
  16. ^ ibid.; Manhattan Project: 1940, DuPont Heritage, viewed 31 March 2002
  17. ^ Hayes, P. (1987) Industry and Ideology: JG Farben in the Nazi Era, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  18. ^ DuPont (2002) DuPont Overview: 200 Years of History, viewed 25 Oct. 2002; Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London
  19. ^ Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London
  20. ^ Ibid.
  21. ^ DuPont (2002) DuPont Overview: 200 Years of History , viewed 25 Oct. 2002; Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London
  22. ^ Forbes magazine, cited in Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London
  23. ^ Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London
  24. ^ Ibid.
  25. ^ Ibid.
  26. ^ DuPont (2002) DuPont Overview: 200 Years of History, viewed 25 Oct. 2002; Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London
  27. ^ Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London; Timbrell, M.C. & Tweedie, D.L. (eds.) (1998) E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Directory of Multinationals, 5th ed, vol. 1, A-J, Waterlow, London, pp. 500-501.
  28. ^ Timbrell, M.C. & Tweedie, D.L. (eds.) (1998) E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Directory of Multinationals, 5th ed, vol. 1, A-J, Waterlow, London, pp. 500-501.
  29. ^ DuPont (2002) DuPont Overview: 200 Years of History, www.dupont.com/corp/overview/history , viewed 25 Oct. 2002; Pederson, J.P. (ed.) (1999) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 26 pp123-127, St. James Press, London
  30. ^ DuPont (2002) DuPont Overview: 200 Years of History, viewed 25 Oct. 2002.
  31. ^ Ibid.
  32. ^ DuPont (2001) Tekgraf Centiv™ and DuPont™ Tyvek® Form Strategic Marketing Alliance, viewed 21 Oct. 2002; Agulnick, S. (2002) DuPont may cut further: Spin-off of fibers unit likely to bring layoffs, 24/2/02, www.delawareonline.com/newsjournal/local/2002/02/24dupontmaycutfur.html, viewed 21 Oct. 2002; DuPont Overview: Company at a Glance, viewed 21 Oct. 2002.
  33. ^ DuPont (2002) US SEC form 10-K, for the year ending 31st December 2001, viewed 22 Oct. 2002.
  34. ^ A SEED Europe (1999) DuPont, Corporate Genomics: Leading Corporate Engines of Genetic Engineering, Nov. 1999, viewed 1 Nov. 2002; DuPont (2002) Company at a Glance, viewed 2 Nov. 2002.
  35. ^ E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company: Company capsule, Hoovers Online, viewed 23 Oct. 2002.
  36. ^ Eli Lilly and Company J Erik Fyrwald Accessed 31st January 2008
  37. ^American Benefits Council Memberships Accessed 26th February 2008
  38. ^The Gorlin Group Clients Accessed 20th March 2008.

Notes

  1. Data from Internet Archive holdings of the Science Media Centre website, 2002-2013.
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