GARDEN CITY, NY– BASF Kaolin and Superior Materials recently celebrated the 70th anniversary at Superior Materials’ Garden City, NY, headquarters. It is a unique relationship, as Superior Materials’ founder, Ben Joachim, essentially discovered industrial uses for kaolin for Edgar Brothers Clay, BASF Kaolin’s predecessor. In turn, Edgar Brothers asked Joachim to market the kaolin, thus leading to the formation of Superior Materials.
Kaolin is a staple of paper production, and Edgar Brothers sought more lucrative markets. Joachim found that kaolin was ideal for camouflage paint, a successful market during World War II. A pound of kaolin was mixed into each gallon of camouflage paint.
After the war, the market for camouflage paint dried up, and Edgar Brothers went back to Joachim, who found that kaolin could be useful for inks, paints and coatings as well. Kaolin limits strike-thru, keeping the ink on the surface of the paper and not leaking through to the other side. It also serves as a pigment extender for titanium dioxide, and improves hiding for architectural paints.
When asked to distribute the kaolin, Joachim formed Superior Materials with his sons-in-law, Fred Kafka and Meyer Budman. Seventy years later, the relationship remains as strong as ever. After a series of acquisitions, including Engelhard, BASF now owns the kaolin operations.
Meanwhile, Superior Materials is in its third generation of family leadership, behind President Steven Kafka, Executive Vice President Ted Budman, and Vice President of Operations David Kafka. Matthew Kafka, the fourth generation of the family, has recently joined the company as an Account Specialist.
“We are very proud of our relationship with BASF,” Steven Kafka said. “Due to the successful partnership between Superior and BASF, with their successful approach to the marketplace as a team, there has been continuous and uninterrupted sales to a number of the same major inks and coatings houses from 1948 to today.”
“The specialty chemical industry in general – and the relationship between chemical manufacturers and distributors in particular – has markedly evolved over the past 70 years,” Kafka added. “It’s quite special to have two businesses married together for 70 years, and despite company changes, the essential business remains the same.”