Ohio in the mid-to-late 1940s was bustling, with USA metros growing as fast as the businesses on Main Street.
It was in Weston, Ohio, 1946, when Dr. Joseph A. Baty, a chemist, his brother Carl E. Baty, and John Romig founded Cresset Chemical Company.
The new enterprise was a family affair with Joe as president, Carl as vice president, and Joe’s wife Ann as secretary and treasurer. They did all the manufacturing on Weston’s Main Street, in the building where the Baty family lived. The firm had one product—an innovative industrial hand cleaner named Sol-Zol, that Joe and Carl took turns hitting the road to sell.
THE EARLY YEARS
In the early 1950s, the team bought 10 acres of land with a house on the edge of town, and built one and then another concrete block building to handle the manufacturing and shipping operations. By the 1960s, Cresset was adding to its lineup of products with concrete release agents and concrete plasticizers.
In 1968, George Baty, Joe’s son, joined Cresset and a few years later was named president when Joe resigned to focus on product research. The transition to new management was smoothly accomplished and complete by the time Joe Baty died in 1974.
The 1970s brought challenges. Petroleum product prices were increasing, and together with decreased availability, a serious threat was looming—petroleum products comprised 80 percent of the raw materials used by the company. The recession in the construction industry created more challenges; 90 percent of Cresset’s customers were in that business segment.
Despite these obstacles, Cresset Chemical Company flourished. Care was taken to not over-extend or over-promise. Unnecessary expenses were eliminated; unprofitable products were dropped. Marketing methods were improved. Office accounting procedures were reorganized. Plant and office personnel were coordinated into a smoothly running team.
Following in the family tradition, George’s son Mike Baty joined Cresset in 2000 after a successful career in the software industry. Working his way up, Mike held several positions in the organization from production to sales and marketing. In 2008, Mike was named president and CEO when George retired.
With an increasing worldwide focus on sustainable materials and concerns over the effects of hydrocarbons on the environment, Cresset’s product research department led the industry in the development of new “Green” technology. The team created environmentally friendly, effective release agents with reduced VOCs for a wide variety of applications, and continue development today. Under Mike’s leadership, those innovative “Green” products have a global customer base; Cresset products ship to industry professionals worldwide.
CRESSET CHEMICAL TODAY
There’s nothing better than hearing from the people at the company directly. The following is a brief Q&A with Jim Renda, vice president, sales and marketing with Cresset.
How is the company known today?
Cresset is considered the most preferred brand of form release agents in the concrete industry. We sell to a wide range of customers throughout North America and around the world. Cresset makes products for all types of concrete production including precast, cast-in-place, tilt-up, cast stone, and ornamental.
What products make up the company’s portfolio of offerings?
Cresset produces a wide range of architectural and structural form release agents, cure and seals, form and equipment treatments, sprayers, and hand cleaners.
What are some of the most memorable construction projects where Cresset Chemical provided the solution of choice?
The new Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California; the new One World Trade Center in New York; the Natchez Trace Bridge (first double arch precast bridge in North America) in Tennessee; the new SoFi NFL stadium in Los Angeles (site of Super Bowl LVI 2022); and many other NFL stadiums and high-profile concrete buildings and bridges.
With Cresset Chemical celebrating 75 years in 2021, what business fundamentals have led to its success in the construction market and its dedication to the concrete industry?
Joe Baty named the company Cresset because a “cresset” is a torch that cuts through the darkness to light the way. He wanted his company to be innovative and proactive. Cresset has followed that philosophy throughout its history with new product introductions that have advanced the concrete production industry.
What innovations through the years have set Cresset Chemical apart from its competitors?
In the 1950s, Cresset introduced the concept of chemically-active form release agents; a giant advancement over traditional form oils. At the time, the most common form oil was diesel fuel.
Beginning in the 1970s, Cresset led the industry in introducing environmentally friendly construction chemicals made with 100 percent virgin ingredients that don’t pollute the air or waterways. These include water-based and vegetable-based release agents with virtually no VOC content. Our bio-based release agent is USDA certified Bio-Preferred and all of our release agents are Prop 65 compliant; Prop 65 is a California law that prohibits the use of cancer-causing ingredients. Recently, we introduced one of the first non-petroleum, eco-friendly synthetic architectural release agents called 880 Platinum®.
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
Here’s a brief Q&A with Mike Baty, owner and president of Cresset Chemical, as he shares making the choice to work at the family business and how he sees Cresset Chemical today and beyond.
Could you elaborate on your decision to join the company, plus any obstacle and solution that helped move the company forward?
I thought hard about moving back to Ohio and working for the company that has been in my life since I could walk. I had a career in software engineering and was quite successful; I loved what I was doing. I decided it was important to continue the legacy of quality and innovation my grandfather and father worked so hard to achieve. As I began this career change, the bank stopped the loan process for the house I purchased with one question, “why such a large cut in pay.” I told them I was going to work for the family business and that seemed to be good enough for them. Using the computer/networking skills I developed outside of the company, I updated all the computer systems and the network with the latest technology.
How do you feel about celebrating 75 years in business?
I am proud to be with a company with 75 years of experience in the concrete industry.
What’s your outlook for Cresset Chemical in 2021?
Tackling the new environment and new technology by making adjustments and new products for the years to come.
It was very important for my grandfather and father to create quality products without cutting corners and to create value for the customer. I have a passion to continue that same tradition.
For more information:
Congratulations to Cresset Chemical for celebrating 75 years of innovation and success in 2021. For more, visit www.cresset.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, February 2021
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