The Beginning UPACO
Adhesives, one of two operating divisions of Worthen Industries, Inc., started life as Union Paste and Sizing Company. A. L. Woodward of Lowell, Massachusetts – a painter and decorator founded Union Paste and Sizing Company on February 20, 1866, with facilities at 102 Central Street in Boston. The first patent was granted on February 12, 1866 for a prepared, preserved flour paste, which was ready-for-use and would not go sour or moldy in storage.
Joshua Chase changed the company name to Union Paste Company and the single adhesive product became known as "Chase's Prepared Paste". On July 22nd, the company was granted a second patent covering a cold-water soluble dry flour paste.
Union Paste Co. moved in May to 293 Congress Street in Boston, a block from South Station. (The site is now occupied by the Federal Reserve building). At this time, in addition to Anthony Kelley and his son, Joshua C. Kelley, there were four or five men in production and one bookkeeper.
Herbert W. Kelley, became the company's first full-time chemist in 1911. (It was he who, some 50 years later, would sell the company to Fred Worthen).
Stated company values: Volume 1, Number 1 of STICKUM, dated August1915:proclaimed its purpose on page 1 as follows:
“We do know that if we failed to call your attention to the value of Union Paste, especially that great and only general-purpose paste which carries the homely name of "Number 220", we'd be failing in our duty as neighbors and friends. You see, we believe in our stuff. We know what's in it. We know what it will do. It is guaranteed to give satisfaction. The man who buys it cannot possibly fail to get satisfaction one way or the other. If the paste, through some condition over which we have no control, should fail to hold a label to the bottle with a never-let-go grip, we give you your money back without a lot of unnecessary conversation. And, as you can understand, we don't like to give money back any too well, either. To avoid that painful exercise, we make the paste right."
Union Paste Company was manufacturing and selling 60 different adhesives for the principal markets of paper bags, boots and shoes, bookbinding, and labeling. The development of many different machines for applying adhesives in those industries forced the development of specialized formulas.
In 1930, A. B. Crowell, a cousin of Herbert Kelley, joined the company. He concentrated on developing and selling a line of special packaging adhesives for sealing DuPont's newly marketed "Cellophane" transparent film. These adhesives were originally solvent-based but before long relatively new resin emulsion technology found applications in this market.
Farnsworth, Inc. was formed by Charles Farnsworth, specializing in the manufacture of cut narrow fabrics, with a particular emphasis on folded bias bindings for the canvas footwear industry and waistbands. The plant was located at 528 Broadway, Lowell, Massachusetts.
Coated Products incorporated and established a reputation as a quality manufacturer of coated textiles and other substrates.
In 1940, the lease on the Medford building expired, the company moved to larger quarters in Hyde Park, the southern-most section of Boston. This building was a three story concrete structure built originally for the Mason Regulator Company (later to become Mason Neilan), with design and other architectural features similar to the Army Base building in South Boston
Around 1950, Union Paste Co. and F. G. Findley Co. of Milwaukee engaged in a business agreement that allowed Union to stock and sell Findley's labeling line of hot pick-up gums, while Findley stocked and sold Union's newly-expanding line of emulsion adhesives for DuPont's "cellophane" transparent packaging films.
In 1954, Southern Adhesives, a small manufacturing company in Richmond, Virginia, was purchased by Union Paste Co. In the fall of 1954, Hurricane Diane caused major problems for the Hyde Park plant. This hurricane is remembered more for its torrential rainfall than for its wind velocity.
A modern plant was built in south Richmond. Robert K. Crowell, younger brother of A. B. Crowell, moved from New Rochelle (where he headed up Union's New York office) to Richmond to become president of Southern Adhesives Corp.
Herbert Kelley, now about 72 years old, decided to sell the company. At this time, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Frederic P. Worthen was growing, Farnsworth Inc., a company that was very active in manufacturing bias bindings for the canvas footwear industry. Union Paste's strong product line for shoe manufacture was attractive as a natural fit, and Fred Worthen purchased Union Paste Company and Southern Adhesives Corp. A Preliminary Memo of Agreement was signed on May 24, 1963. Those employees who owned stock in Union Paste Co. and/or Southern Adhesives Corp. sold their interests to Fred.
Union's centennial year, UPACO Adhesives, Inc. was incorporated in Massachusetts, combining Union Paste Co. and Southern Adhesives Corp., as a division of Worthen Industries, Inc. Union's long use of its trade name, "UPACO", very familiar in the marketplace, provided marketing continuity in this corporate name change.
Delco Rubber Corporation was acquired by Coated Products Corporation. Delco specialized in the manufacture of such components as vinyl and lacquer coated fabrics, and papers, box toes materials, sueded linings, flocked thermo counters and counter inserts.
Worthen purchased the New York Laminating Company from Burt Siegel. Later to be known as NYLCO, Inc., in Lowell, MA, this brought expertise in wide web coating.
Monumental Adhesives, a small water-based adhesives manufacturer in Baltimore, was purchased. Monumental’s customers included large paper bag and envelop manufacturers. Eventually, the facility was closed and the business was absorbed by UPACO – Richmond.
In 1977, the Compo insole plant on Spit Brook Road in Nashua became available and the property was purchased. The building was modified for our purposes. The Hyde Park plant was sold and the operation moved to the present location in Nashua. Roman Adhesives, a manufacturer of urethane polymers in New Jersey, was purchased. Roman supplied moisture-cure adhesives to the packaging and graphic arts industries. With this purchase came formulations and a few key people, but no manufacturing facilities. It was then that Nashua manufacturing was expanded to bring in urethane reactors, which opened the door to the creation of tailor-made polymers for this growing adhesive market. Also, acquired that year were the formulations belonging to Empire Adhesives in Massachusetts. This filled in some of the missing pieces of the compounded adhesive product line.
A new manufacturing location for the NYLCO Division was opened in Newnan, GA. Fredric P. Worthen, Jr. relocated from Massachusetts to GA. Robert F. Worthen was named General Manager of the UPACO Division (NH and VA) based in NH.
Fredric P. Worthen, Jr. named VP of manufacturing for NYLCO Corp. He brought in a new 66” wide coater to enhance manufacturing for the label line.
Robert F. Worthen relocated to Richmond, VA, to concentrate on expanding sales to the foam, furniture, and cigarette markets.
Fredric P. Worthen, Sr. passed away and oldest son Peter T. Worthen appointed President.
Robert F. Worthen was appointed President. Rob changed the overall focus from general R & D and sales to the Business Unit concept. This allows for in-depth R & D/marketing & sales directed to specific end-uses: Staple, Automotive, Footwear, Film Laminating, Labels, Coated Products, etc.
Admelt, a hot-melt coating and converting company in Lawrence, MA was purchased. Equipment and key personnel soon moved into the Nashua location. Thus began a new business unit called Coated paper, converting pressure-sensitive adhesives directly or by transfer coat, to the industrial, tape, and medical fields.
David S. Worthen promoted to Business Unit manager for Staple & Nail. David spearheaded expansion into European markets and initiated conversion to water-based nail coatings and collating nail tapes.
The footwear portion of the business was purchased from American Finish & Coatings in Peabody, MA. With this came personnel key to making the transition, as well as formulations that were a welcome addition to the footwear adhesive line.
US Patent # 5,637,633 was issued for a water-based contact adhesive for porous surfaces. This was the first one part water based sprayable product used successfully in the US to replace solvent based spray glues used in manufacturing furniture cushions.
US Patent # 5,820,719 was issued for a method of sole-attaching using a heat-re-activatable adhesive in the mold.
US patent # 5,983,527 was issued for a film adhesive for sole-attaching.
A 10,800 square foot room was added to the Nashua, NH plant to house extrusion equipment, enabling Worthen to bring toll manufacture of both collating tapes and Footwear sole-attaching films in-house. The ability to coextrude opened the door to a number of new markets, including decorative, high performance, and printable films.
UPACO Division opened their new wholly owned company, UPACO Asia Limited, with offices in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, and Dong Guan City, China. Hong Kong is the distribution center and supplies all of Asia with UPACO’s full line of adhesives and waterproofing systems. Located in the Dong Guan City office, is a technical sales and service crew, as well as an applications testing laboratory. US Patent # 7,083,858 was issued for thermally activated adhesive films for collation of wire staples.
Two manufacturing plants in Michigan were purchased from Avery-Dennison to expand the coated products business unit of NYLCO and to be better able to service our customers across the country. US Patent # 6,467,114 was issued for PermaSeal®, a sealant system for waterproofing welted footwear.
Sampson’s Rib, makers of rib and application machinery to apply it, was formed when Worthen purchased and merged O’Dell –Williams with Prime Manufacturing. Rib is a specialty product used in all welted shoes manufactured worldwide.
A second extruder was purchased and set up in the Clinton, MA, NYLCO facility. Although this extruder could not do coextrusion, it was better equipped to run heavier substrates and thicker extrusions. Chinese Patent # 26 988 02973.1 was issued for film adhesives for sole-attaching.
A second site at 34 Cellu Drive in Nashua, known as Nashua North, was purchased to house and consolidate NYLCO converting and coating equipment. The extruder from Clinton, Ma was brought to Nashua after Clinton was flooded in 2008.
US Patent # 6,210,778 was issued for laser printing for harsh environments.
Robert F. Worthen passed away and David S. Worthen was appointed president.
An additional coater and a third extruder were purchased for the Nashua North facility, again expanding manufacturing capabilities for the NYLCO facility.