February 9, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Friedrich Bayer

Friedrich Bayer was born in 1825, the only boy among six children. His father was a weaver, his ancestors dyers. As a young man he served a chemical merchant apprenticeship and set out to start his own business in natural dyes in 1848.
By 1860 he owned five acres of land and two houses on the property.

Up until 1856 all color dyes had been produced from vegetable and animal materials. That year coal tar dyes were discovered and the balding Bayer immediately realized the enormous potential of these synthetic dyes.
From the black, sticky mess could come all the colors of the rainbow.

Bayer the merchant and his partner Johann Friedrich Weskott, a master dyer, began to search for their own artificial dyes. They tagged their little side business "The Laboratory In The Kitchen" as pans bubbled on stoves with gooey tar.
By late 1862 they had created a bluish-red dye they named fuchsine after the flowers of the fuchsia.

In 1863 the general partnership of Friedr. Bayer et Compagnie was formed to produce aniline dyestuffs. Bayer did the sales and marketing and Weskott handled production. Both men were cautious enough to retain their old firms. On pay days Bayer personally handed each employee his wages. The first payroll of a company that would one day employ over 150,000 people included one chemist, one foreman and four laborers.

Competition grew steadily and Bayer & Company produced different color dyes. In 1865 they acquired shares in the first American coal tar dye factory in Albany, New York. The firm gained notoriety when it scored a silver medal in 1867 at the Paris World Exhibition.

Bayer pioneered employee relations in 1873 when the company started a Worker's Relief Fund as a health plan for workers. By that time Friedrich Bayer was becoming increasing aware of his own health. In 1877 the sons of the founders became partners and Bayer died on May 6, 1880 - 17 years before the invention of the product by a company chemist that would make his name a household word: Aspirin.

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