Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Fairbank (N. K.) & Co.
Fairbank (N. K.) & Co.

Fairbank (N. K.) & Co.

In 1864, Nathaniel K. Fairbank and John Peck established Fairbank, Peck & Co. as the successor to Smedley, Peck & Co., a Chicago lard processor and soap maker. Using materials generated by the city's large meatpacking industry, the company expanded. By 1870, its new plant at 19th and Blackwell Streets employed about 160 men, women, and children, and produced about $2 million worth of lard, soap, and cottonseed oil a year. In 1875, it was purchased by American Cotton Oil and was renamed N. K. Fairbank & Co. By 1880, it had 400 employees and $5 million in annual sales. A decade later, the company had sales branches in St. Louis, Omaha, and Montreal and had become famous for its distinctive advertising. The company employed over 1,000 people at the 19th Street plant in Chicago into the 1910s. In 1921, the plant was closed as American Cotton Oil moved its manufacturing to newer plants in the South.