Oral history interview with Harold A. Sorgenti

Oral history interview with Harold A. Sorgenti

  • 1998-May-12 (First session)
  • 1999-Mar-15 (Second session)
  • 1999-Jun-10 (Third session)
  • 2003-Jan-10 (Fourth session)

Harold Sorgenti begins the interview by discussing his family background and childhood. He was able to find a job after college at Battelle Memorial Institute and while working in research there, Sorgenti received his masters in chemical engineering from Ohio State University.

After four years at Battelle, Sorgenti left to work in research for Atlantic Richfield Oil Corporation (ARCO). Sorgenti had a highly productive research career and invented several production processes, such as making benzene from toluene by hydrodealkylation. Because of his exemplary managerial skills and ability to take risks, Sorgenti was promoted first to director of development and then to head to research and engineering at ARCO. Eventually, he became the president of ARCO Chemical, a subdivision of ARCO. Sorgenti urged the company's CEO, Robert Anderson, to buy control of Oxirane, which Sorgenti later built in to a highly successful company. From the beginning of his presidency in 1979, to his retirement in 1991, Sorgenti increased ARCO's net worth by two billion dollars.

Sorgenti has always believed that a manager's most important job was to provide safety for his employees. He felt that shareholders were preventing him from accomplishing that task at ARCO, so he resigned and then co-founded the Freedom Chemical Company. There, Sorgenti helped organize many transactions, including one with the Kalama Chemical Company. When Freedom's investment partner, JLL, decided to sell the company to B.F. Goodrich, Sorgenti founded a new company named, Sorgenti Investment Partners. Throughout his career, Sorgenti has joined many corporate boards, and worked hard to make the selection of new executives and board members an open process. Sorgenti ends the interview by reflecting on his philanthropic involvements and family life.

Place of interview
Original file type PDF, MP3
  • 155 pages
Rights In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Related URL
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

Physical location


Cite as

Harold A. Sorgenti, interviewed by Arnold Thackray in Haverford, Pennsylvania on May 12, 1998. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0170. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/1z40kt97c.

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Transcript (Published Version)

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

21 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads