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Vick Chemical Company

by Norris W. Preyer, 2006

See also: Richardson II, Lunsford (from Tar Heel Junior Historian)"Early examples of Vicks VapoRub in the exhibit Health and Healing Experiences in North Carolina at the N.C. Museum of History."

The Vick Chemical Company began as a small cold remedy company in Greensboro and grew into a diversified Fortune 500 corporation with sales in more than 160 countries around the world. In 1905 Lunsford Richardson, a pharmacist and former teacher, started the company (until 1911 called the Vick Family Remedies Company) to manufacture and market the many different medications he had been developing since the 1890s. His eldest daughter served as secretary and his eldest son became the sales manager. Growth came through concentrating on Richardson's most popular product, Vicks VapoRub, a vaporizing salve for colds. Utilizing free samples Vick Chemical Company, Greensboro, NC photo by Charles Clark. Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: ConDev63-43A. and billboard and newspaper advertising, VapoRub expanded from the Southeast into the Northeast, and by 1917 it had reached the diffused population west of the Mississippi.

After Richardson's death in 1919 his two sons, H. Smith and Lunsford Richardson, and his son-in-law William Y. Preyer oversaw the business's accelerating growth. The company expanded sales to foreign markets, automated production in Greensboro and Philadelphia, listed Vicks stock on the New York Stock Exchange (1925), and moved company headquarters to New York City. Vicks began marketing other cold products such as nose drops and cough drops, and it diversified into prescription drugs, toiletries, and other fields. The company name was changed to Richardson-Merrell in 1960 and to Richardson-Vicks in 1981, when the Merrell pharmaceutical division was sold to Dow Chemical. Sales passed the $1 billion mark in 1979, and by 1983 health care and consumer brands such as Oil of Olay, Clearasil, Pantene, Vidal Sassoon, Fixodent, and Thompson's Water Seal represented more than 75 percent of company sales.

In September 1985 Unilever, one of the world's largest manufacturers of personal care products, sought to acquire Vicks. Seeing no way to head off the takeover after a three-week battle, Vicks turned to a "white knight" and on 7 October sold the company to Procter & Gamble. Vicks VapoRub, past the century mark, continued as one of Procter & Gamble's major products.

References:

Locke Craig Raper, Vick Chemical Company: A Case Study in Innovation (1991).

H. Smith Richardson, Early History and Management Philosophy of Richardson-Merrell (1975).

Additional Resources:

Vick's Company: http://www.vicks.com

Lunsford Richardson NC Historical Marker: http://www.ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx

Richardson-Vick, Inc., Records UNC Libraries: http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/r/Richardson-Vicks,Inc.html

Image Credit:

"Early examples of Vicks VapoRub in the exhibit Health and Healing Experiences in North Carolina at the N.C. Museum of History." Available from http://www.ncmuseumofhistory.org/collateral/articles/L.Richardson.pdf (accessed July 3, 2012).

Vick Chemical Company, Greensboro, NC photo by Charles Clark. Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: ConDev63-43A.

 

Origin - location: 

Comments

Comment: 

You guys should really invent the spray Vicks or roll on or deodorant style so we don't get all over our hands .

Comment: 

where can I buy Vicks Inhaler Stick In the 65616 area code? I hope I can still get your inhaler cause I have always use vicks products I think they are great so please let me know where I can get this? Please don't tell me you stop making this product.

Comment: 

Hi Jack,

Thanks for visiting NCpedia and sharing your question. The entry you commented on for the Vick Chemical Company is an article in the NCpedia, North Carolina's online encyclopedia. We are not connected with the Vicks Company.

You may want to ask a pharmacist in your area or visit the Vicks company website. Here is the link: http://vicks.com/en-us.

Good luck and best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

I have been looking on every site, every drug store etc etc, I am trying to purchase ththe.VICKS VAPOR RUB "CREAM" in a tube,can anyone tell me where I can find it?????? DESPERATE MOTHER, THANK U SO MUCH,

Comment: 

do you know longer make the vicks inhalers I use to be able to get that at my local grocery store and am not able to find them anymore. They were great for winter and now no longer exsist or unsure if this product was discontinued plz let me know so I will stop looking for it in the winter

Comment: 

Hi Tammy,

Thanks for visiting NCpedia and taking time to post your comment.

NCpedia is an online encyclopedia about North Carolina and unfortuantely we do not have any information about specific current products made by Vicks.  You may want to contact the company. Here is a link to the Vicks products page -- http://vicks.com/en-us/browse-products

I hope this helps!

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

Please make Vicks in a roll on form. It is way too messy on the hands and worse when you have long nails. A roll on would be so much more sensible. It seems everything else comes as a roll on product why not Vicks?"

Comment: 

I think your company should consider putting your vapor rub in a stick form similar to a deodorant stick. It would allow application to be quicker and easier without getting all over your hands.

Comment: 

hello i am making enquirIes regarding shares that i had gained whilst working as an employee at Richardson and vicks in the Skelmersdale area, i received two lots of shares one for my 100% attendance and the others for my punctuality,i have tried various ways of contacting persons whom i was told may be able to help me but this was to no avail however i was then given your email and told to see if you maybe you could help with my enquiries

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Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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