Great Lakes was originally founded in the 1930’s as a gas exploration company. It was originally called McClanahan Oil Company. The company bought Great Lakes Chemical Corporation in 1948. Discovering large bromine deposits in Arkansas, the company climbed to the top of the bromine business. The company spent a lot of time developing and producing chemicals used for water treatment, household cleaners, flame retardants, fire suppressants, and performance. This was the company’s main source of revenue until they acquired a company named Octel Associates in 1989.
Octel Associates specialized in TEL (tetraethyl lead). Although Great Lakes wasn’t originally into producing a lead additive, it soon accounted for half of their operating profit. Octel provided them Great Lakes with large amounts of bromine, so they decided to take on the negative affect’s dealing with the negative feedback from Lead Addatives. Growing into a multinational presence, Great Lakes slowed interest in bromine when they discovered the large amounts of profits coming from TEL. By the 21’s century, lead gasoline was banned in most developing countries.
Negative side effects were beginning to bring much attention to the company. TEL from gasoline was being used, then entered the atmosphere from exhaust. This allowed large amounts of lead to be absorbed by citizens. Side effects from TEL are, adverse effects of the neurological system, kidneys, and cardiovascular system; hypertension in adults, increase blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Children were affected even more than adults because their bodies absorbed 40 to 50% of TEL, compared to 10 to 15% as adults.
Although TEL was banned in developed countries, there was still a large market available. By 1994 59% of Great Lake’s Operating profit was secured from Octel (TEL). This was a large problem because over half of their OP was coming from an area that was becoming an environmental, socioeconomic issue. This problem was becoming larger as environmentalists made their situation public. Due to the gold mine of money created from TEL, Great Lakes knew they would be dealing with this issue for a very long time. It was not economically favorable for their company to stop selling TEL.
They had also acquired around 90% of the market, if they were to drop out of the business there would still be a large demand for their product. The Great lakes Chemical Corporation received a large amount of backlash from environmentalists by the mid 90’s. The company made it clear an effort was going to attempt to move their company away from TEL by finding new products to substitute, without the negative effects. The company came up with three policy options to improve their situation. The first policy declared that the company would continue to sell TEL to developing companies.
This would keep the company in a strong financial position, while helping the countries using TEL to continue moving forward. This option would bring much environmental feedback and perhaps give the company a permanent “black eye”. The second Policy stated the company would remove itself from leaded gasoline; this would exit itself from the environmental issue all together. This would maintain a strong reputation for the company, however would cut their operating profits by over half! The third policy would to aggressively move away from the Lead marketplace.
Creating a proposed dead line to work their way out of the industry. This would keep the company from immediate monetary issues, and allow the company to keep doors open for new products. The company may be able to persuade the countries to force policies to move to un-leaded fuels. Great lakes company changed its name to Chemtura in 2005 after combining with Cropton Corporation. While moving into greener products, Chemtura ran into many environmental issues that would eventually send the company into bankruptcy. Late December 2011, Chemtura came to many settlements to get them out of bankruptcy.
The company now faces a long road that will hopefully allow them to reimburse all payments, and fix all damage created by the company. When the Great Lakes Company started out, their future was unsure. The product that would bring them the most profits, would also be the product that brought them the most issues. The company could have avoided this issue if they had removed themselves from their harmful market when issues first arose. Poor decisions, can crumble even the largest companies. To avoid these decisions a company must frequently address issues involved with their company.