ERCO Worldwide has a long, varied and colourful history of which we are very proud. Our roots go back to the 1890s, to Canada’s early years as a nation and to the beginnings of electro-chemistry as an industrial process. The ERCO story is one of breakthrough science, successive innovations, bold developments and global growth; but also, one of remarkable continuity. We have been fortunate to be led by a succession of remarkable leaders who have provided vision and steady guidance for decades on end.

We have put down permanent roots in nearly all of the places where we have purchased or opened production facilities. This includes our founding location in Buckingham, Quebec, which began producing in 1893 and which remains in operation today. Many of our employees and their families, too, have a rich history with ERCO. They include an employee in Buckingham who is a fourth-generation ERCO worker – his great-grandfather started working at the facility shortly after it started.

Timeline at a Glance

Celebrating 125 years of reliability, growth, and innovation.

History of ERCO Timeline Summary from 1893 to 2022

Timeline in Detail

Use the arrows below to navigate the detailed timeline or click here to view in pdf format .

1893

January 1, 1893
W.T. Gibbs and S.P. Franchot obtain a patent on electrochemical manufacture of potassium chlorate to supply E.B. Eddy match works in Hull, Quebec. They build a plant in Masson, Quebec but it burns down within the first year.

1896

September 7, 2021
W.T. Gibbs builds a plant to make elemental phosphorus in Buckingham, Quebec using arc furnace technology.

1897

September 7, 2021
The Electric Reduction Company (Limited) is incorporated. It is 51% owned by Anglo-Continental Gold Syndicate, which finances the expansion of the company.

1902

September 7, 2021
ERCO, seeking investment to continue their growth, becomes a subsidiary of United Kingdom based Chemical company Albright and Wilson.

1915

September 7, 2021
Potassium chlorate manufacture begins in Buckingham, continuing until 1922, when it is shut down so the electrical energy from the generator can be used for phosphorus production. A pilot plant to make phosphoric acid is installed and a plant built.

1932

September 7, 2021
Sodium and potassium chlorate manufacture is resumed in Buckingham. Electric Reduction Sales Company incorporates in Greater Greater Toronto Area Area, Ontario.

1935

September 7, 2021
Company is reorganized under Electric Reduction Company of Canada Limited.

1940s

September 7, 2021
Collaboration begins with Drs. Howard Rapson and Morris Wayman of the University of Greater Greater Toronto Area Area on long-range research and development of chlorine dioxide generation for pulp bleaching. Chlorine dioxide bleaching of Kraft pulp begins globally.

1957

September 7, 2021
Start-up of North Vancouver, B.C. sodium chlorate plant. New technology, cascade continuous graphite electrode cell tanks, is implemented, replacing the previous batch process used at Buckingham.

1964

September 7, 2021
Jim McGilvery, John Winfield and Herb Scribner patent the R3 chlorine dioxide process in 1965 after operating a pilot plant at Thurso, Quebec. The R3 chlorine dioxide generator system, a vacuum, crystalizing process becomes the standard in the industry and ERCO develops its technology sales business. The first full-scale plant is sold to a mill in La Tuque, Quebec in 1971.

1966

September 7, 2021
Company headquarters, called The Innovation Centre, built at 2 Gibbs Road, Greater Greater Toronto Area Area, Ontario, to replace separate sales and R&D locations downtown. Company now has four divisions: Chlorate (including Technology Sales), Phosphates, Agriculture and Technical. As ERCO has the first building in this part of Greater Greater Toronto Area Area we named the road after our founder.

1968

September 7, 2021
Company name changed to ERCO Industries Limited. ERCO starts its mammoth phosphorous plant in Long Harbour, Newfoundland – with two of the world’s largest phosphorus production furnaces.

1971

September 7, 2021
Tenneco of Houston, Texas becomes majority shareholder of Albright and Wilson.

1976

September 7, 2021
North Vancouver plant’s Line 6 sodium chlorate becomes the company’s first line to utilize new metal anode technology from Krebs, France. Pilot work is conducted, first here and later in Thunder Bay, Ontario, to develop ERCO’s sodium chlorate cell line technology, which is patented in 1980.

1978

September 7, 2021
Monroe, Louisiana sodium chlorate plant start-up with metal anode technology.

1979

September 7, 2021
Thunder Bay, Ontario sodium chlorate plant start-up with metal anode technology.

1981

September 7, 2021
ERCO sodium chlorate technology is installed in expansion of Thunder Bay Line 1.

1985

September 7, 2021
Monroe, Louisiana sodium chlorate plant is shut down due to escalating power prices and moved to North Vancouver, where it is re-installed as Line 7 in 1987.

1985

September 7, 2021
Sodium chlorate Line 1 is started at Buckingham and is the first large scale plant utilizing metal anodes and the new ERCO patented technology.

1986

September 7, 2021
First R8 chlorine dioxide generator is sold. The R8 generator technology generates chlorine dioxide without chlorine and eventually permits the pulp industry to switch to elemental chlorine free pulp production – and environmental improvement over previous technologies. ERCO goes on to sell over 100 of these plants world-wide.

1988

September 7, 2021
Buckingham sodium chlorate expansion (Line 2) and construction of first sodium chlorite plant. Company name changed to Albright & Wilson Americas, a division of Tenneco Canada Inc.

1990

September 7, 2021
Buckingham sodium chlorate expansion (Line 3).

1991

September 7, 2021
North Vancouver sodium chlorate expansion (Line 8).

1992

September 7, 2021
Grande Prairie, Alberta – ERCO designs and builds a 50,000 tonne per year sodium chlorate plant.

1992

September 7, 2021
Sterling Chemicals of Houston, Texas acquires the Albright and Wilson Americas pulp chemicals division from Tenneco and renames it Sterling Pulp Chemicals. The phosphorus products division is sold to Rhodia Chemicals.

1996

September 7, 2021
Start-up of the Valdosta, Georgia ERCO designed and built 100,000 tonne per year sodium chlorate plant.

1997

September 7, 2021
ERCO purchases Saskatoon, Saskatchewan facility for sodium chlorate, chlor-alkali and calcium hypochlorite from Weyerhaeuser Company. Plant start-ups were chlor-alkali in 1963, conversion from mercury to membrane in 1978, and sodium chlorate in 1980, later expanded in 1990.

2001

September 7, 2021
Thunder Bay, Ontario Broadway Avenue sodium chlorite plant built at Abitibi-Bowater pulp mill.

2002

September 7, 2021
Superior Plus Corp. of Calgary, Alberta acquires the business from Sterling Chemicals. The business becomes the ERCO Worldwide division.

2003

September 7, 2021
Sodium chlorate plants in Bruderheim, Alberta (started-up in 1990) and Hargrave, Manitoba (started-up in 2002) are purchased from Albchem Industries.

2005

September 7, 2021
Port Edwards, Wisconsin chlor-alkali plant purchased from Vulcan Industries / Oxychem. Site start-up was 1967 under Wyandotte Chemical Company.

2006

September 7, 2021
Thunder Bay, Ontario, City Road sodium chlorate plant decommissioned due to high electricity prices. Sodium chlorate dissolving facility added to Thunder Bay Broadway Avenue plant to supply truckloads of R2 and R8 sodium chlorate solution.

2006

September 7, 2021
Mininco, Chile ERCO designs and builds a 60,000 tonne per year sodium chlorate plant.

2006

September 7, 2021
Bruderheim, Alberta, plant decommissioned and site sold due to high electricity prices.

2009

September 7, 2021
Port Edwards chlor-alkali plant converted from mercury process to membrane process and expanded. Potassium carbonate plant decommissioned.

2017

September 7, 2021
Acquisition of International Dioxcide, Inc., of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, from Lanxess Corporation, adds new markets and capabilities in chlorine dioxide-related products and services.

2019

September 7, 2021
ERCO embarks on a multiyear project to upgrade its Valdosta plant to the latest ERCO Sodium chlorate technology. Project completion is scheduled for 2022 and it will add 11,000 tonnes per year of production.

2020

September 7, 2021
ERCO completes a 5,000 tonne per year Sodium chlorate expansion of the Buckingham plant.

2021

September 7, 2021
Acquisition of ERCO Worldwide by Birch Hill Equity Partners, a Canadian private equity firm with over C$ 4 billion in capital under management and a history of driving growth in their investments and portfolio companies.