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Connell Brothers, in business since 1898, was acquired by Wilbur-Ellis Company in 1931.

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A century of success in Asia-Pacific

Connell Brothers was founded by Morris J. and John Connell, domestic brokers in Seattle Washington who saw great potential in the opportunities that trade with Asia could offer. Though Atlantic-European trade patterns still dominated the international economic scene, in 1898 the brothers made the bold decision to open offices in Shanghai and Manila and began shipping flour from Seattle to the cities of Asia-Pacific.

The fledging trading company was an immediate success, and by the 1930s, no other American trading company was as well respected, had the depth of experience or understood the Asian market as well as Connell Brothers. The company’s prestigious reputation attracted the attention of Wilbur-Ellis Company, an import and commodity trading company well known in California and along the West Coast. In 1931, Connell Brothers became a wholly owned subsidiary of Wilbur-Ellis, and the company’s headquarters moved from Seattle to San Francisco.

After World War ll, as the Asia-Pacific region began to dismantle the colonial system, Asian markets needed everything from canned goods to light bulbs, from construction materials to heavy equipment. Connell Brothers adapted quickly to the changes in the region and was there to supply these and many other products, including industrial chemicals, plastics and plastic raw materials, pharmaceuticals, flavors and fragrances, textiles and synthetic fibers.

By the close of the 1970s, Asia-Pacific had gained the world’s attention as one of the most important trading areas with tremendous growth potential. Recognizing the value of Connell Brothers’ longstanding customer relationships, major U.S. manufacturers, many ranked in the Fortune 500, selected Connell Brothers as their marketing representative in the region. The dramatic growth in market share created by these partnerships firmly established Connell Brothers’ reputation as one of the most successful marketing and distributor companies in Asia-Pacific going into the 21st century. By the 1980s, Connell Brothers focused its business completely on specialty chemicals and ingredients.

Today, Connell Brothers is still privately held by Wilbur-Ellis and continues to grow organically and through acquisitions. The company remains completely focused on being one of the premier distributors of specialty chemicals and ingredients in Asia-Pacific.