History of Washington Mills
Founded in 1868, Washington Mills began as Washington Mills Emery Manufacturing Company. It was the first abrasive producer in the United States and its sole product at that time was imported Turkish Emery Ore – a natural abrasive that was crushed and sized primarily for the polishing of farm tools. By 1929 sales of Turkish Emery had fallen as more consistent man-made materials in the form of electrically fused aluminum oxide became available. In order to keep pace with the superior fused materials, Washington Mills converted its emery plant into a more modern plant suitable for processing the new fused materials.
In 1929 the company updated and expanded its facilities in North Grafton, MA to process furnaced electrominerals. In 1980 it installed a new greenfield aluminum oxide fusion plant and modern refractory grain crushing and grading plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This gave the company the ability to fuse its own electro-minerals and gain total control of the production process. Washington Mills further expanded its furnacing, crushing, and grading capabilities through the acquisition of three distinct facilities from The Carborundum Company in 1986. This acquisition added one plant in Niagara Falls, Canada, one in Niagara Falls, NY and one in Trafford Park, England. With increased capacity, Washington Mills began to manufacture a broader line of products, expand its position in the marketplace and service more diverse industries. The company's steady growth resulted in a world-wide sales expansion into Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.
Seeing an opportunity to expand its silicon carbide products and microgrit capabilities, Washington Mills acquired The Exolon Company in 2001. This added further processing capability in Tonawanda, NY and gave Washington Mills control of its own silicon carbide crude source through the Hennepin, IL plant. Rounding out its portfolio of abrasive products, Washington Mills enlarged its ceramic media production through the purchase of Wisconsin Porcelain in 2001. In 2003, Washington Mills further expanded its silicon carbide and microgrit capacity with the complete acquisition of Orkla Exolon in Norway in 2004. This added another source of silicon carbide crude, with advanced microgit technology and production capacity. In 2006, Washington Mills completed the construction of a state-of-the-art microgrit processing plant in Norway. Equipped with the latest equipment and technology, the new plant has the advanced capability to produce high quality micro grits and sub-micron powders.
Washington Mills has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings – today it employs about 600 employees, serves thousands of customers worldwide, and stands as one of the largest producers of fused minerals in the world. Over 150 years of industry experience ensures that Washington Mills manufactures a top of the line product and provides service that reflects our expertise. Through its commitment to the industry and its goals of internal growth and strategic acquisitions, Washington Mills offers the broadest selection of abrasive grain and specialty electro-fused minerals available in the market today.