As one of the most successful American firms in the industrial chemical sector, The Dow Chemical Company is always near the top of the list when it comes to revenues and levels of production. Active in a wide variety of operations, Dow is best known for its work in the fields of industrial chemical production, plastics, agro-tech, and energy exploration and extraction. With its headquarters based in Michigan in the United States, Dow and its subsidiaries employs over 54 thousand people in some 160 different countries across the globe. Under the leadership of Andrew N. Liveris who holds the positions of CEO, President, and Chairman, Dow brings its motto of ‘Solutionism’ in its approach to global business.
‘Dow’, as it is traded on the market, was founded in 1897 by Herbert Henry Dow. The original product line was focused around the production of potassium bromide and bleach, after its founders developed a method of deriving bromine from brine, which he had found in great abundance in the town of Midland in Michigan, where the company is still based today. Dow soon expanded its production to additional lines of products including chlorine, dyes, and chemicals for agricultural purposes. It became a major player in the production of chemicals and metals for the American war efforts in both World Wars, and during the 1930s started work in the plastics sector, making polystyrene and ethyl cellulose.
Dow’s history in the American military industry includes involvement in non-conventional weapons such as Agent Orange and napalm, which were used heavily in the Vietnam War during the late 1960s. They also managed a nuclear weapons production facility close to Denver Colorado called Rocky Flats between 1951-1975.
Products and Operations
In their line of chemical products, Dow produces industrial chemicals for the cold weather, food, paint, and clothing care sectors. These chemicals include chlorine with various subgroups of the product, caustic soda, as well as ethylene and propylene glycols and oxides. Plastics comprise a significant segment of their manufacturing, with a range of polyolefins which are used for the construction and automotive sectors.
As with many of the other industrial chemical firms, Dow has concentrated on research and development for new types of genetically modified seeds and herbicides for agriculture. It has also made advancements in the field of water purification which has been managed through their Dow Water and Process Solutions unit.
The energy sector and exploration for the hydrocarbons used in their products has proved to be a burgeoning part of the company’s business.
This chemicals giant has made a concerted effort to institute an expansive set of goals aimed at improving the company’s image as a global business actor. As a part of these goals, Dow is seeking to reduce its involvement in the production of chlorine, which could have an impact on its environmental footprint. There are however concerns that this could affect its employees as it makes cutbacks in this sector. Other goals have focused on social responsibility and overall sustainability with projects such as the Energy Bag Pilot Program, which was implemented in 2014, wherein Dow launched a project to turn unrecyclable plastic products into sources of energy in the city of Citrus Heights in California. Efforts such as this program appear to be a part of the company’s goal of engaging with communities, and it hopes to launch similar programs in additional locations.