1902 Laflin & Rand Powder Company

The Laflin & Rand Powder Company was DuPont's leading post-Civil War competitor in the explosives industry, but also an important partner in the Gunpowder Trade Association (GTA). After manufacturing saltpeter for the Massachusetts militia during the Revolutionary War, Irish-born Matthew Laflin built a powder mill in Southwick, Mass., and successfully entered the explosives business. Show more



After Laflin died in 1810, his descendants expanded the family business into New York. To better handle the growing complexities of business after the Civil War, the partners incorporated the firm in 1866 as the Laflin Powder Company. A year later, Albert Tyler Rand of the competing Smith & Rand Powder Company proposed uniting the two firms, and in 1869 both sides agreed to merge into the Laflin & Rand Powder Company of New York, with Rand as the new firm's first president.

 

In 1872 Laflin & Rand collaborated with friendly rival DuPont to establish the GTA, a trust comprising the nation's top explosives manufacturers that sought to regulate the powder industry with price controls, protected territories and sales quotas. The two companies likewise cooperated in the emerging high explosives, or dynamite, field, jointly establishing the Repauno Chemical Company in 1880, the Hercules Powder Company in 1882, and the Eastern Dynamite Company in 1895. Their combined efforts at industry consolidation and control were so successful that by 1900, Laflin & Rand and DuPont together commanded over two-thirds of the entire explosives industry.

 

In October 1902 DuPont purchased Laflin & Rand, operating it as a subsidiary while planning to assimilate its assets over the following years. In 1912, however, a successful Federal antitrust suit against DuPont for its prior "Powder Trust" activities in the GTA forced the company to dissolve Laflin & Rand and divest a significant portion of its explosives business into two newly created companies, the Hercules and Atlas Powder Companies. Hercules received Laflin & Rand's patents for smokeless powder, along with several of its old plants, and ultimately developed into a substantial corporation in its own right. Hercules diversified into chemicals and abandoned the explosives business in the 1950s and 1960s. Today Laflin & Rand's legacy continues in the Alliant Powder Company, a former subsidiary of Hercules that specializes in military gunpowder manufacturing.