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Eagle-Picher Corporation
Type Private
Founded 1842
Founder(s) Edgar and Stephen J. Conkling

Eagle-Picher Corporation is a privately held, American, manufacturing and resource extractive company known for its storage battery technology. It was founded in 1842 as a paint manufacturing firm using the name Eagle White Lead, and became Eagle-Picher Lead in 1916 with its merger with a lead mining company owned by Oliver Picher. That merger made it the second largest producer of lead and zinc products in the world.[1] It has had many subsidiaries including the Eagle-Picher Mining & Smelting Company (now EP Minerals), Eagle-Picher Industries, EaglePicher Technologies, EaglePicher Commercial Power Solutions, and Wolverine Advanced Materials. Eagle-Picher was one of the defendants in the asbestos litigation,[2] and has twice been through bankruptcy reorganization.[3]


In 1842, Edgar and Stephen J. Conkling, brothers, started a firm in Cincinnati, Ohio to manufacture pigments for commercial paints.[4] They called the partnership the E. & S. J. Conkling Company and used the brand name Eagle White Lead. In 1847, with Stephen out of the picture, Edgar took a new partner, William Wood, and the partnership became Conkling Wood & Company.[4] After the American Civil War the firm was incorporated with William Wood as the majority stockholder. In 1916, the Picher Lead Company of Missouri merged with the Eagle White Lead to form Eagle-Picher Lead.

Calcite mineral specimen from the old Eagle-Picher mine, Tri-State District, Ottawa County, Oklahoma

During World War II, Eagle-Picher used diatomaceous earth and zinc to produce storage batteries for the US military. By 1947 they were among the first to adapt a purification system for Germanium for commercial use in the transistor industry.[5]

From 1964 until 1976 Eagle-Picher operated a printed circuit board manufacturing plant in Socorro County, New Mexico and dumped industrial waste into unlined sewage lagoons.[6] Then from 1980 to 1989 they dumped industrial waste from the manufacture of non-automotive lead-acid batteries into those same lagoons. The hazardous chemicals, including a number of organochlorides, permeated into the local drinking water supply, and the site became a Superfund site.[6] Eagle-Picher operated a number of lead smelters which contaminated the local areas and ended up as Superfund sites. The one in Hillsboro, Illinois was placed on the Superfund list in September 2007.[7] Clean-up of the smelter in northwestern Joplin, Missouri was begun in the late 1990s, but was still on-going as of 2008.[8] The Eagle-Picher smelter in Henryetta, Oklahoma was cleaned up in the late 1990s.[9]

In January 1991 Eagle-Picher filed for bankruptcy protection having over $2.5 billion in asbestos-related claims asserted against it,[3][10] as well as other environmental claims. Its reorganization was approved in November 1996 with the ownership of the company going to a trust for victims of asbestos and lead poisoning.[11] In 1998 the trust sold the operating businesses to Granaria Holdings, a consortium of Dutch investors.[12] In 2000, the company sold its last company (subsidiary) that operated in the Cincinnati area, Cincinnati Industrial Machinery, to Armor Metal Group.[12] In 2002, corporate headquarters were relocated from Cincinnati to Phoenix, Arizona.[12]

In April 2005, Eagle-Picher filed for bankruptcy protection a second time, having accumulated more than $500 million in new debt.[12][13] It did not fully exit Chapter 11 reorganization until July 2009.[13] During its reorganization, Eagle-Picher acquired new owners, restructured, moved its corporate headquarters in Michigan, and divested itself of some of its non-core businesses.[13] In 2007, it sold its pharmaceutical division to Aptuit Inc. and its EP Boron subsidiary to Ceradyne. In 2008, Eagle-Picher sold Hillsdale Automotive (Metavation) to Cerion.[5] The two principal new owners are Angelo, Gordon & Co., a New York investment firm, and Tennenbaum Capital Partners, a California investment firm.[13]

Chairmen & presidents[edit]

  • 2005– Donald L. Runkle, chairman of the board
  • 2006– David L. Treadwell, president (CEO)
  • 2007– Randy Moore, president (CEO)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Knerr, Douglas (1992) Eagle-Picher Industries: Strategies for Survival in the Industrial Marketplace, 1840–1980 Ohio State University Press, Columbus, Ohio, page 77, ISBN 0-8142-0557-7
  2. ^ Knerr, page 248
  3. ^ a b Sherefkin, Robert (31 July 2006) "EaglePicher to exit Chap. 11" Automotive News page 30
  4. ^ a b Knerr page 21
  5. ^ a b Staff (December 2009) "EaglePicher Corporation" Hoover's Company Records
  6. ^ a b "National Priorities List (NPL): Eagle Picher Carefree Battery: Socorro, New Mexico " United States Environmental Protection Agency
  7. ^ Hillig, Terry (27 September 2007) "Eagle Zinc now on Superfund list That means cleanup of old smelter in Hillsboro, Ill., is now eligible for federal funding" St. Louis Post-Dispatch page B-3
  8. ^ "Oronogo-duenweg Mining Belt, Missouri, EPA ID# MOD980686281" United States Environmental Protection Agency
  9. ^ "Superfund Site Redevelopment" 2005 Land Report Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
  10. ^ Holusha, John (7 December 1995) "Judge Finds Eagle-Picher Liable for $2.5 Billion in Claims" The New York Times page D-4, column 3
  11. ^ Staff (30 November 1996) "Financial Digest" The Washington Post page C-1
  12. ^ a b c d Newberry, Jon (12 April 2005) "EaglePicher Back in Bankruptcy Court; Firm Says No Daily Changes" The Cincinnati Post page C-6
  13. ^ a b c d Dunson, Melissa and Ostmeyer, Andy (21 July 2009) "EaglePicher, ConAgra announce new owners" The Joplin Globe, archived at http://www.webcitation.org/65lJ8isIH by WebCite on 27 February 2012