Oral history interview with Arthur I. Mendolia

Oral history interview with Arthur I. Mendolia

  • 1998-Nov-12

Arthur Mendolia begins the interview with a discussion of his family and childhood. After graduating from high school in Youngstown, Ohio, Mendolia entered Case Western Reserve University in 1934, majoring in chemical engineering. Financing education during the Depression was difficult, and Mendolia worked at Youngstown Steel Door Company to make money. He received his B.S. in 1941 and began to work at DuPont as a research engineer.

Mendolia spent thirteen years in DuPont's adiponitrile plant in Niagara Falls, occasionally commuting to a plant Charleston, West Virginia. In 1954, Mendolia was named Assistant Director of Research of DuPont's Electrochemicals Department, a position he held for two years before moving into sales as the Assistant General Manager. In 1966, Mendolia became the Assistant General Manager of the Explosives Department. There, he sold DuPont's chemical process for making acrylonitrile to Amoco Chemical Company. DuPont recognized Mendolia's exemplary management skills and promoted him to Vice President of Explosives in 1970. In 1972, Mendolia met Ralph Landau while negotiating a purchase of ethylene glycol for DuPont. Later that year, DuPont recommended Mendolia for a position in the U.S. Department of Defense [DOD]. There, Mendolia learned more about management, organization, finances, and worked personally with President Gerald Ford.

After two years with the DOD, Mendolia became president of Ralph Landau's company, Halcon International. Later, he became Chairman of Oxirane, a Halcon and Arco joint venture. With Oxirane, Mendolia set up branch offices in Eton, England, and Houston, Texas, and set up Oxirane's R&D department. He worked to establish uniformity and standards within the company. In 1981, Mendolia and Cy Baldwin bought their own chemical company, CasChem, Inc., a castor oil and polyurethane production company. Then Baldwin and Mendolia purchased Cosan, a biocide company, in 1985. In 1987, these companies officially had their names changed to Cambrex Corporation. Mendolia concludes the interview with a discussion of purchasing chemical companies, management issues, his family, and hobbies.

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Original file type PDF, MP3
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Extent
  • 62 pages
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Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.  Bohning passed away in September 2011.

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Department
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Interviewee biographical information

Born
  • May 06, 1917
  • Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died
  • October 19, 2007
  • New Castle, Delaware, United States

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1941 Case Institute of Technology BS Chemical Engineering

Professional Experience

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company

  • 1941 to 1954 Research Engineer, Electrochemicals Department
  • 1954 to 1956 Assistant Director of Research, Electrochemicals Department
  • 1956 to 1958 Assistant Director of Sales, Electrochemicals Department
  • 1958 to 1966 Assistant General Manager, Explosives Department
  • 1966 to 1970 Assistant General Manager, Explosives Department
  • 1970 to 1973 Vice President and General Manager, Explosives Department

United States. Department of Defense

  • 1973 to 1975 Assistant Secretary of Defense for Installation and Logistics

Halcon International, Inc.

  • 1975 to 1978 President
  • 1978 to 1980 Chairman, Oxirane International

CasChem, Inc.

  • 1981 to 1987 Co-founder, Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Executive Committee
  • 1987 to 1995 Director of the Board, Cambrex Corporation

Honors

Year(s) Award
1979 Case Alumni Association Gold Medal Award as Outstanding Alumnus
1990 Winthrop-Sears Award for Entrepreneurship (with C. C. Baldwin)

Cite as

Arthur I. Mendolia, interviewed by James J. Bohning in Titusville, New Jersey on November 12, 1998. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0174. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/wh246t37b.

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mendolia_ai_0174_FULL.pdf

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

8 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads