Our History

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1921 — Schoolmates from the University of Washington, Messrs. Wilbur, Ellis and Franck open a small import-export brokerage trading company in San Francisco with a $5,000 investment. The newly created Wilbur-Ellis focuses on trading fishmeal and fish oil.

1930s — Wilbur-Ellis initiates a presence in the Far East with the acquisition of a highly respected distributor of food and other products, Connell Brothers.

1940s — Wilbur-Ellis opens crop protection and treatment locations for the first time, starting in California and Arizona.

1950s — In post-war Japan, Wilbur-Ellis is among the first foreign-based companies to reestablish trade with the country, a legacy that continues today.

1960s — As formulas for fertilizer and crop protection become more sophisticated, the company purchases businesses in California, the Pacific Northwest and Texas, and begins a strategic acquisition approach that continues today.

1970s — Acquisition of a nutritional business in California and others in the Pacific Northwest serve as keystones for the Feed Division. The Agribusiness Division responds to changes in government oversight with the establishment of a dedicated Safety, Regulatory and Environmental department.

1980s — Connell Brothers begins to narrow its focus to specialty chemicals and ingredients and increases its presence in Southeast Asia. Expansion of the Canadian feed trading business that had begun in the mid-60’s with an office in Vancouver, BC, continues with the opening of operations in Lethbridge, AB.

1990s — Key acquisitions expand and solidify the company’s agribusiness presence in California and establish the company’s position among the top crop protection service providers in the industry. Increasing opportunities are realized for Connell Brothers in Vietnam.

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2000s — Connell Brothers, now fully focused on specialty chemicals and ingredients, continues to respond to opportunities and customer and supplier demands through acquisitions in the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Australia and New Zealand. These acquisitions create comprehensive coverage of the Far East markets for Wilbur-Ellis.

The company’s ability to expand both organically and through strategic acquisitions continues. The Feed Division restructures, focusing on three lines of business: marketing, forage and animal nutrition. The Agribusiness Division expansion elevates it to national standing among distribution companies. The Connell Brothers Division becomes a leading international marketer and distributor of specialty chemicals and ingredients.