Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

U.S. Borax: 1971 Annual Report.
United States Borax & Chemical Corporation.

Webmaster's note.

U.S. Borax was the successor company to the Sterling Borax Works in Tick Canyon, along Davenport Road. As of 2019, the current iteration of the company still owns the property.

Text from annual report follows.

Review of Operations.


In 1971, for the first time in the Company's history, total sales passed the $100,000,000 mark. Sales revenue for the year showed a gain of nearly 6% over 1970 in spite of sluggish economic conditions in the U.S.A. and most overseas market areas.

Consolidated net income, after Federal and state income taxes, also rose for the second consecutive year, from $1.58 per common share to $1.66, an increase of 5%.


In the U.S.A., sales of borate products responded to the gradual upturn in economic activity during the year. The housing boom led to strong demand from manufacturers of insulation fiber glass, but for the year as a whole sales to most of the other important borate-consuming industries showed only modest growth over the previous year.

In export markets, too, slow economic activity limited the growth of borate demand, but the dominating factor in the second half of the year was the West Coast Longshoremen's strike, which closed all ports in the western United States from July 1, 1971 until suspended by a Taft-Hartley injunction on October 7, 1971. During the strike it proved possible to supply European markets in bulk through Gulf Coast ports, although this resulted in very substantial extra costs not all of which could be recovered from customers. For markets outside Europe, notably Japan, sales came to a virtual standstill, and even after the end of the strike a shortage of vessels hampered efforts to rebuild customer inventories. In spite of these problems, however, total export sales for the year were 8% over 1970.


In a generally successful year, sales registered a 9% growth over 1970, and

1971 was the third consecutive year in which both sales and profit contribution increased.

In retail products, BORATEEM® sales increased after a 2-year decline, and 20 MULE TEAM® Rorax achieved record volume.

20 MULE TEAM® Laundry Detergent, introduced mid-year, failed to meet sales expectations as a result of criticism by the Surgeon General of non-phosphate detergents as a whole. However, the product is improving its position in those markets where consumer demand for a non-phosphate detergent continues.

Industrial maintenance products, in spite of a decline in the total market, showed a gratifying increase over the previous year.


Sales of potash were slightly higher than in 1970, due entirely to higher selling prices. These in turn resulted from the restrictions on production and price imposed on Canadian potash producers by the provincial government of Saskatchewan in 1970. These restrictions held production at the Allan mine to about 50% of capacity, a level which even at present prices does not yield a satisfactory return on investment. However, there is no doubt that the intervention of the Saskatchewan government has had a beneficial effect on an industry plagued by massive excess capacity.

Development and test marketing continued on COBEX, a new selective herbicide developed and patented by the Company primarily for use on cotton and soybeans. While COBEX is still in the early stages of development, its effectiveness at low application rates and also its high degree of safety in use indicate considerable promise for the future.


A continuing supply of new products is vital for U.S. Borax's future prosperity. The U.S. Borax Research Corporation, in addition to its activity on selective herbicides, continued its investigation of new product opportunities for both the industrial and consumer markets. Meanwhile, in an intensified exploration effort, USB geologists carried out a wide-ranging program aimed at a variety of metallic and non-metallic minerals.


During 1971 the Company continued to devote a great deal of time and substantial expenditures to ensure that its plants comply with the increasingly strict requirements of state and local pollution control authorities.


Mr. Ray J. Coleman retired from his position as Vice President and General Counsel after 41 years' association with the Company's legal affairs. Mr. Robert L. Starkey was elected to replace him.



The First 100 Years.

The year 1972 marks the 100th anniversary of U.S. Borax, and the first century of continuous borax production in the U.S.A.

The earliest predecessor company of U.S. BORAX was launched in 1872 by Francis Marion ("Borax") Smith. The scene was Teel's Marsh, Nevada, where Smith and his brother Julius employed Chinese laborers to shovel borate from the ground for refining into marketable borax. A man of genius and inexhaustible energy, Mr. Smith acquired other borate properties besides Teel's Marsh, and at the same time promoted borax from a rare product known only to pharmacists and metalworkers into a household staple. In 1890 he acquired Harmony Borax Works in Death Valley from William T. Coleman, pioneer California merchant. The Harmony Works employed 40 men, and maximum production was three tons a day.

Transporting borax from Harmony to the railroad at Mojave, Calif., was accomplished by the famous Twenty-Mule Teams, which hauled the material over a desert route of 165 miles, a 20-day round trip. The romantic and dramatic appeal of men and animals pitted against the harsh and inhospitable desert soon made the Twenty-Mule Team a popular and picturesque trademark. It remains one of the oldest trademarks still in use in the U.S.

In 1896 a merger between Smith and two young English manufacturing chemists, Richard C. Baker and James Gerstley, resulted in a firm called The Pacific Borax and Redwood's Chemical Works Ltd. of London. Another merger in 1898, absorbing that company, created Borax Consolidated Limited. Pacific Coast Borax Company operated as a division of BCL until 1956 when it was merged with United States Potash Company to form the present UNITED STATES BORAX & CHEMICAL CORPORATION.

Presidents, managers, men, mines, plants and methods have come and gone, and even the name of the company has changed, but the Company as an entity traces its heritage directly back 100 years. U.S.BORAX sees its first Centennial not as the end of a century of history but as the beginning of a second century of growth and success.

CN7101: Download individual pages here. Courtesy of Cynthia Neal-Harris.


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