The roots of Brenntag Latin America, former Holland Chemical International (HCI), date back to 27th February 1920 in Holland, and the establishment of NV Handel Maatsschapij “Holanda Colombia voorhen J. & W. Wegman”. This trading operation was located in Barranquilla, Colombia, distributing kerosene and fuel oil. These two products came from Shell’s recently completed refinery on Curacao. In 1960, a small private group from the Netherlands Antilles acquired the company. One member of this group was Gerry (G. J.) Staartjes, an alumnus of a prestigious Dutch business school, employed by the locally published newspaper “Beurs-en Nieuwsberichten”.
Within a short period, he took over the day-to-day management. Under Mr. Staartjes’ stewardship, the company rapidly expanded, buoyed by the industrialization of Latin America. All efforts were focused on developing operations in Colombia and neighboring countries. New offices were opened in Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Central American countries, and subsequently in Brazil, Chile and in the Dominican Republic. In Central America, HCI was established in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. The company developed a network of logistics support facilities, and its own storage tank network. As the company expanded, Mr. Staartjes moved its headquarters to the Colombian capital of Bogota. Gerry Staartjes invested the revenues back into the business to ensure continued growth of the company.
Distribution activities spurred the need for a wider logistics infrastructure, including bulk storage and shipping. The group built storage terminals for liquid and solid chemicals in the various national markets, and established a tanker fleet to ship these products from the United States and Europe. Fleet management, including filling the otherwise empty return leg, was centralized at the Houston office in the U.S.A. During the 1980's Mr. Staartjes moved segments of his operational division to Houston including the centralized purchase of goods sourced for Central and South America.
Holland Chemical International underwent expansion into North America in the 1980's, followed by European operations in the 1990's. Geographic growth and increasing foreign exchange transactions, promoted the transfer of the holding company from Colombia to Bermuda. Subsequently in late 1993, ongoing internationalization and the mission of becoming a global player brought the company home again to Holland, where it had been registered. September 1999 will remain as a milestone in corporate history, since this was the month in which Brenntag submitted an acquisition bid to Holland Chemical International (HCI) shareholders who accepted on November 15, 2000.
At the time of the acquisition, Brenntag was the market leader in Europe and held fourth place in North America, with more than one hundred locations and sales of about 1.5 billion dollars. HCI contributed sales of about 1.3 billion dollars and its position as the fifth largest chemicals distributor worldwide - with large market share in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and the USA. In Latin America, Brenntag became number one.
Brenntag Latin America is headquartered in Houston, Texas, USA. It is the only large chemical distributor that can provide its customers with products and services from throughout Latin America. Our over 19,000 customers are supplied by more than 1,400 colleagues from 50 locations in 17 Latin countries. Acquisitions are a key pillar in Brenntag Latin America growth strategy. Some of the acquisitions made in recent years are the following:
- In November 2008 – Inquimex S.A.C.I. – Argentina, strengthened its presence in the Argentine chemical distribution market broadening its product portfolio in polyurethanes, personal care, paints and coatings.
- In February 2009, Austro Corp S.A. de C.V. - México, allowed Brenntag to enter the Mexican food market and strengthened its position in the oil & gas market.
- In December 2011, AMCO Internacional S.A. de C.V. - México, allowed Brenntag to enter the flavor and fragrances business in Latin America.
- In November 2012, Delanta Group – Argentina/Chile/Uruguay, improved Brenntag’s position in the specialty market, strengthened its position in ACES as a core business unit, enhanced access to the construction industry and increased market coverage in Argentina.
- In March 2014, Gafor Group – Argentina/Brazil, a distributor of specialty solvents in Latin America enabled Brenntag to expand its presence in these countries.
- In 2014, SurtiQuímicos S.A. - Colombia, a distributor of specialty chemicals and formulations for the paint, food, textile and construction industries, allows Brenntag to increase its share in the specialty market.
Today Brenntag has positioned as the market leader in full line chemical distribution in Latin America. Our goal is to continue growing with our customers and suppliers by offering an outstanding and varied product portfolio and a highly impressive degree of customer service and technical expertise.