1920s: The Birth of a Distributor
On August 8, 1924, George Van Waters and Nat Rogers filed incorporation papers in Olympia, Washington. The small firm sold paint, raw materials, caustic soda, soda ash, cotton linters, dry colors for paint, and denatured alcohol. Their willingness to buy—and sell, for profit—new types of materials helped the company grow. When Van Waters & Rogers entered the laundry supply business, it paved the way for the company’s future—chemicals. “We sort of glided into the industrial chemicals business,” Nat Rogers said. Near the end of the decade, the company moved into a 5,000 square foot facility just south of downtown Seattle. Soon after, they expanded into the entire facility and plant next door. Times were good. The Dow Jones industrial average reached an all-time high of 381.17. Then, on October 24, 1929, the stock market crashed.