Calumet’s origins date back to 1916. Calumet Refining Company was officially formed in 1919 in Burnham, Illinois to manufacture medicinal white oil and package lube products.
In mid 1951, Calumet moved into new offices at Burnham and in 1953, the Princeton, Louisiana Refinery was built. A packaging facility on Western Avenue in Chicago was vacated and sold in December 1956. During this time, the existing final distillation unit in Burnham was refurbished, eliminating crude primary units and maintaining the final distillation unit for specialty distillates only. All lube base stocks were now refined in Princeton with Burnham being used as a terminal for distribution.
Product safety and capacity requirements changed the face of the company in the mid 1980’s. Princeton purchased a hydrotreater, called the Hydrocal Unit, which came on stream in early 1987 at a cost of nearly $27 million. Also during this time margins were so depressed that by mid-1989, the financial burden of the markets was too severe and resulted in a decision by Calumet Industries Board of Directors to offer the company for sale.
In February 1990, the company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. The Heritage Group bought Calumet Refining Company in November 1990 and renamed it Calumet Lubricants Company, a limited partnership.
Since 1990, the company has grown through acquisition and asset expansion. Once only a producer of specialty naphthenic oils, Calumet has grown into a diverse hydrocarbon manufacturer. With the recent acquisition of Penreco, Calumet revisited their roots and brought in another veteran refining company to complement their growth.
Penreco began in the oil fields of western Pennsylvania when John and George Beck founded the Pennsylvania Refining Company in 1878. Although Pennsylvania Refining Company was one of the world's first producers of refined petrolatum; the firm initially concentrated much of its marketing efforts on motor oils, specialty petroleum products and retail gasoline.
In 1936, the development of solvents for heat-set printing led to a relationship with Magie Brothers Oil Company. Magie Brothers began to supply solvents produced by Pennsylvania Refining Company to the printing ink industry.
World War II created extreme changes in the American petroleum industry. As a result of these influences, Pennsylvania Refining Company decided to concentrate its efforts on the production of white mineral oils, petrolatum and solvents. These highly refined forms of petroleum, white mineral oils and petrolatum were pure enough to surpass Food and Drug Administration requirements.
The Pennsylvania Refining Company and Magie Brothers Oil Company merged in 1969. In January 1973, Pennsylvania Refining Company became the Penreco Division of Pennzoil Company. In 1985, Penreco purchased Marathon Morco, a white oil and sulfonate producer in Dickinson, Texas. This merger gave Penreco the ability to supply white oil from two production sources. The purchase also included a line of specialty oils, refrigeration oils and compressor lubricants.
In October 1997, Penreco became a partnership between Pennzoil Quaker State and Conoco Inc. Conoco contributed its Conosol® and LVT® solvent businesses to the partnership, while Pennzoil contributed its traditional Penreco and Magie Brothers businesses. In February 2001, M.E. Zukerman Specialty Oil Corporation purchased a 50 percent stake in Penreco from Pennzoil-Quaker State Company. The ConocoPhillips/M.E. Zukerman partnership in Penreco continued until Calumet’s purchase of the business on January 1, 2008.