Multi Billion Dollar Household Name Born In Upstate New York
In the 1860s, Dr. John Ellis was practicing medicine in Binghamton and it was in Binghamton that he would create a product that would become one of the most well-known brands in all of the United States of America.
Today, Valvoline is known as a brand of automotive oil, additives, and lubricants. Valvoline is also known for its instant oil change and express care chains but Valvoline got its start in Binghamton after a gentleman named Dr. Ellis studied whether or not there were any potential health qualities to be found in crude oil.
Dr. Ellis wasn't able to find any medicinal properties for oil but he did discover that it would make for a good lubricant for the cylinders in steam engines and industrial machinery which had, until that time, been lubricated by animal and vegetable oils.
The problem with animal and vegetable oils is that they didn't always fare well in different temperatures. On the other hand, petroleum and mineral-based oil were unable to provide lubrication when mixed with water.
It was Ellis who discovered that if he mixed animal fat with petroleum or mineral-based oil, lubrication properties were maintained. In other words, Ellis can be credited with creating compound engine oil thus refining petroleum.
In 1866, Dr. Ellis created the Continuous Oil Refining Company and it was through this company that he would sell his compound engine oil called Binghamton Cylinder Oil. In 1868, Binghamton Cylinder Oil was renamed Valvoline.
In 1874, Dr. Ellis would move his company to Brooklyn. Business took off and in 1881, the Continuous Oil Refining Company was given a new name – Ellis & Leonard. That same year, a tract of land was purchased in New Jersey and it was there that the Ellis built a massive and quite impressive oil refinery.
Today, Valvoline is headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. The company employs over six thousand people and brings in over two billion dollars each year. To think that this multi-billion dollar company and household name was born in Binghamton, New York!