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1874 - 1942

Part I - 1874-1945

"Ab ovo," which means "starting with the egg," is what the ancient Romans used to say when they wanted to explain something from the beginning. It is pure coincidence that the history of Brenntag started not with one egg, but with lots of eggs, when Philipp Mühsam, a Berlin businessman, founded an egg-wholesaling business in 1874.
 
The company wasted no time entering new lines of business, displaying the flexibility typical of a trading house. Canned goods were mentioned in the ledgers for 1878, and in 1879 an account entitled "drugs" that must have marked the start of its chemicals-trading business, appears for the first time. The subsequent years show that this line rapidly took off and eclipsed the company's traditional line of business by the early 1890s. The early decades of the new century continued to be successful as the company started trading in crude oil and motor fuels.
The first mention of a chemicals facility belonging to the company is in 1912, when an application for a patent regarding the denaturing of acetic acid was registered. When the company founder died in 1914, the business was managed jointly by his son, Dr. Kurt Mühsam, and Julius Herz.

During the 1920s rampant inflation and the need to pay for extensive gasoline imports and other foreign-made products made things extremely difficult. The conditions under which Philipp Mühsam AG had to operate worsened once the Nazis came to power. Although the company continued to expand during the early years fo Nazi rule, as its management reports for those years show, its name, Mühsam, was clearly recognizable as Jewish. Calls for boycotts and acts of violence against the Jewish citizenry mounted. The company's stockholders recognized that not only the company, but they themselves, were in danger, which is why Julius Herz, chairman of Philipp Mühsam AG's management board, turned to Hugo Stinnes jr. in December, 1936, and offered to sell him the company.
 
In February, 1937, the Stinnes family acquired 612,000 Reichsmarks worth of stock in the company from the Mühsam family, who emigrated to the USA. Important for the remainder of Brenntag's corporate history is the fact, that Philipp Mühsam AG was not incorporated into Hugo Stinnes G.m.b.H, but remained part of the Stinnes family's private empire.
 
"On 14 July, 1937, the company was renamed "Brennstoff-, Chemikalien- und Transport A.-G. (vormals Philipp Mühsam A.-G.)." That rather lengthy name was abbreviated to the catchy "Brenntag" and registered in February 1938. At the close of the 1930s Brenntag's objectives as stated in its articles of incorporation were: "Wholesaling chemicals of all kinds, particularly motor fuels, along with other products of the mining, metallurgical, and chemical industries and agriculture, as well as trading in goods, finished goods, semi-finished goods, and finished products."

Brenntag Baltics
Contact

Brenntag Latvia, SIA

Warehouse nr.2
"Ciedri" Lielvarzi,
Kekavas pagasts, Kekavas novads
LV-2123, Latvia

Tel.: +371 678 032 80
E-mail: brenntag(at)brenntag.lv

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