History of KEMET
KEMET Corporation, as we know it today, was officially formed on December 21, 1990. However, the history of KEMET actually began a long time ago.
Kemet Laboratories was established by Union Carbide Corporation in 1919 to purchase the Cooper Research Company of Cleveland, Ohio, which had invented a promising high-temperature alloy. The name "KEMET" is a blend of the words "chemical" and "metallurgy." KEMET's first product used this high-temperature alloy for grid wires in vacuum tubes. In 1930, the product line was expanded to include barium-aluminum alloy getters, an essential element in vacuum tubes.
KEMET's development of automatic machinery allowed production of high-quality getters in the huge quantities needed to match the rapid expansion of vacuum tube usage. In fact, it is estimated that over 80% of the vacuum tubes used by the Allies during World War II contained KEMET getters.
The business continued to grow and prosper until the early 1950s when Bell Telephone Laboratories invented the transistor. As the transistor began to displace vacuum tubes in electronics, the getter business stagnated. Fortunately for KEMET, Bell Laboratories had also invented the solid tantalum capacitor, which complemented the use of low-voltage transistors (semi-conductors) in electrical circuits. Since Union Carbide had experience in the fields of high-temperature metals and alloys, the solid tantalum capacitor was chosen as KEMET's "new product" to complement the getter product line and to provide the vehicle for future growth.
By 1962, the capacitor business had experienced very rapid growth. A new 50,000 square foot plant in Simpsonville, South Carolina, designed from inception as a capacitor production facility, opened in late 1963. By the late 1960s, KEMET was clearly established as a major U.S. capacitor producer, with the leading market share in solid tantalum capacitors. In order to expand KEMET's product scope and enable its continuing rapid growth, the decision was made to enter the multilayer ceramic capacitor business. The Cleveland Plant was phased out in early 1971, and all personnel and equipment were moved to South Carolina. The company expanded rapidly, adding plants in Mauldin, Greenwood and Fountain Inn, South Carolina; Columbus, Georgia; Shelby, North Carolina; and Matamoros, Mexico, by the early 1980s.
In 1986, Union Carbide announced its decision to divest itself of businesses that no longer fit its strategic business plans. On April 1, 1987, the existing management group bought the company from Union Carbide Corporation and formed KEMET Electronics Corporation. While Union Carbide retained 50% of KEMET's stock, KEMET was now a stand-alone company with David E. Maguire as its President and CEO. On December 21, 1990, a group of investors including KEMET senior management and Citicorp Corporation purchased the balance of KEMET stock and formed the present-day KEMET Corporation. This sale ended all ties with Union Carbide Corporation. Mr. Maguire remained at the helm of KEMET Corporation until his retirement in 2003.
On October 21, 1992, KEMET Corporation completed its Initial Public Offering (IPO) by selling 4 million primary common shares at $10.00 per share. Proceeds from subsequent offerings in June 1993 and December 1999 raised additional equity to repay debt, redeem preferred stock, and fund continued capital expansion. The company's Board of Directors announced two-for-one stock splits in September 1995 and May 2000. KEMET stock, originally traded on the NASDAQ National Market System under the symbol KMET, is now traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol KEM.
Also in the early 1990s, KEMET began consolidating its U.S. locations and relocating manufacturing operations to lower-cost facilities in Mexico and China in order to remain competitive in the rapidly changing global electronics industry. Over the next decade, new plants were added in Monterrey and Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, and in Suzhou, China.
Mr. Per-Olof Loof was named Chief Executive Officer on April 4, 2005. Under his leadership, the company acquired the tantalum business of EPCOS AG in April 2006, the Evox Rifa family of companies in April 2007 and Arcotronics in October 2007. Most recently, KEMET agreed to acquire a 34% economic interest with a 51% voting interest in NEC TOKIN Corporation, a manufacturer of tantalum capacitors, electromagnetic, electromechanical, access devices and piezoelectric ceramics from NEC Corporation of Japan. These acquisitions strengthened KEMET's global position, in addition to expanding the company's product portfolio with additional capacitor types, broadening its technologies, and allowing the company to better service new and existing customers.
In keeping with the company’s announced strategic direction to vertically integrate operations and to better control supply sources, KEMET acquired Cornell Dubilier Foil, a manufacturer of foils utilized as a core component in electrolytic capacitors in June 2011, and Niotan Inc, a leading manufacturer of tantalum powder in February 2012. KEMET recently announced the industry’s most comprehensive plan for sourcing conflict-free tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that includes economic and social sustainability efforts such as the construction of schools, health clinics and infrastructure at and around the mine site in the Katanga province in the DRC. This comprehensive plan is focused on enhancing the overall quality of life of the miners and their families as well as creating long-term opportunities for the local community that supports the mine.
Today, KEMET maintains its corporate headquarters and a new power film manufacturing facility in Simpsonville, South Carolina. Manufacturing facilities are located in Matamoros, Monterrey, and Ciudad Victoria Mexico; Suzhou and Anting-Shanghai, China; Pontecchio, Italy; Weymouth, United Kingdom; Évora, Portugal; Suomussalmi, Finland; Granna, Sweden; Skopje, Macedonia; Batam, Indonesia; Landsberg, Germany; Kyustendil, Bulgaria; Knoxville, Tennessee and Carson City, Nevada. KEMET also owns two specialty electronics companies--FELCO in Chicago, Illinois, and Dectron in Farjestaden, Sweden. Sales offices and distribution centers are located around the world.