PBI-Gordon celebrates 70th anniversary
Founded in 1947, the company has grown to become a leader in the professional turf and ornamental management, consumer home and farm, and animal health and pet care industries.
Oct 11, 2017
The management team of PBI-Gordon in 1955 — standing (from left to right) are Everett Mealman, Hillis McLane, Art Johnson, Bob See, and Milt Behrens, while seated (left to right) are John Mathias, John H. Muller, Bob Mueller, and Roy Boxmeyer. Photos courtesy of PBI-Gordon
The year was 1947 and the United States was in the post-World War II economic boom. Four industrious men in Kansas City pooled their considerable talents and shared values to create what would one day become a leading manufacturer of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and growth regulators for the professional turf and ornamental management industries.
"I have been with PBI-Gordon since 1951," said Everett Mealman, chairman of PBI-Gordon, "Every day I am reminded how fortunate and blessed I've been to play a role in its growth." He added, "Through the years, our mission to create and deliver healthier solutions through dependable products, thoughtful innovations, and impeccable service has never changed. Of course, none of this would be possible if it wasn't for the pride our employee-owners have in their jobs, and their collective focus on delivering shared success to our customers and suppliers."
The Early Years
Initially named Private Brands, Incorporated (PBI) on October 8, 1947, the company was founded by John Mueller and his son Robert Mueller, John Mathias, and Dr. Roy Boxmeyer.
The founders' strategy was simple: capitalize on the needs of companies such as Rohm & Haas, Stauffer, Velsicol, Dow, Monsanto, Ciba, and DuPont by formulating their basic chemicals, inerts, and emulsifiers as private label pesticides for farm co-ops and independent distributors.
This proved to be a successful strategy because, at the time, the chemical companies didn't have the resources to get all their product into the agricultural industry – which itself was enjoying a boom as the growing population created a need to make farm acres more productive.
The Birth of PBI-Gordon
Private Brands, Incorporated acquired customer and fellow Kansas City company Gordon Chemical in 1956. The combined entity eventually changed its name to PBI-Gordon Corporation in 1970.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the company continued to expand its portfolio of private label agricultural pesticides and specialty products. But changes in the industry created a need for PBI-Gordon to start its own brand of products.
A production line for PBI-Gordon's early product, Statex.
As one of the first companies to recognize the need for turf solutions designed specifically for golf course superintendents, PBI-Gordon became the licensee (in 1968) to combine active ingredients 2,4-D, MCPP, and Dicamba. This gave the company the exclusive patent rights to the formulation in the U.S.
That product, which was initially marketed as Fairway herbicide, was later renamed Trimec® Herbicide. The first gallon ever sold was to Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The initial success of Trimec set in motion a process that eventually led to the introduction of numerous market-leading pesticides for turf, including the launches of SpeedZone® and Surge® Broadleaf Herbicides.
PBI-Gordon continues to thrive to this day. The company, which became 100 percent employee-owned in 2002, is pursuing an aggressive 10-year growth plan that includes investment in manufacturing and warehouse facilities and the reformulation of products to reduce costs and improve efficacy.
In addition to its leadership position in the professional and consumer pest management industries, PBI-Gordon has diversified into contract manufacturing, and the consumer and veterinary animal health industries.
With a line of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, growth regulators and other products, PBI-Gordon Corporation is a national leader in the professional turf and ornamental management industry. The company also develops and markets products for the consumer lawn, garden, farm and ranch, animal health and grooming, and consumer and veterinary markets.
Based in Kansas City, Mo., PBI-Gordon has been in business since 1947, and is 100 percent employee-owned.