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The year is 1836 and an Italian entrepreneur named Eugene Grasselli is eyeing America as the land of opportunity. Eugene had been working in his father’s growing chemical manufacturing business located in France. The industry was in its infancy and Eugene was anxious to strike out on his own. Eugene Grasselli had been educated in Strasburg and Heidelberg where he learned the art of Sulfuric Acid manufacture from his studies while under the tutelage of his father, Giavanni. So, Eugene left the comfort of his home in France, and set out for America. The journey took 5 ½ months, crossing the Atlantic in a small sailing vessel. The trip was perilous but in early 1837, Eugene landed in Philadelphia. He had 2 cents in his pocket.
In Philadelphia, Eugene found employment with Farr & Kunzie Chemical for $1 per day. While working for Farr & Kunzie in Philadelphia, Eugene struck up a friendship with another local chemical
manufacturer named DuPont. This friendship would come into play later. Eugene worked for Farr &
Kunzie for two years until in 1839 he decided to set out for Cincinnati, Ohio in order to start his own
Sulfuric Acid manufacturing plant under his own name, Grasselli Chemical. Grasselli’s first sulfuric acid plant started up in 1839 in Cincinnati. Cincinnati had a thriving soap industry (think P&G) and sulfuric acid was in high demand for soap processing. Grasselli’s Cincinnati plant thrived selling mainly to the soap industry. But while in Cincinnati, Eugene met a young merchant named John D. Rockefeller.
Rockefeller was developing another use for sulfuric acid – oil refining. And oil refining was centered in Cleveland Ohio, the location of Rockefeller’s #1 refinery. So, in 1865, Eugene set out for Cleveland to find a site for his second sulfuric acid manufacturing plant. He found the perfect site only ½ mile from Rockefeller’s #1 refinery located on flat land surrounded by hillsides for natural draft. The site was located in what later became known as Cleveland’s Industrial Flats. And thus, in 1866, Zaclon’s
Cleveland Plant was born producing sulfuric acid for John D. Rockefeller’s #1 refinery.