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P&F Visits: Lebermuth Turns 100!

Posted: September 2, 2008

In 1908, Morris Brown realized the potential value in the peppermint oil business and, with his sons, decided to form M. Brown & Sons. One hundred years later, the company, now named The Lebermuth Co., Inc., continues to be a leading supplier of mint oils. And although the company still maintains its Indiana roots—with its headquarters based in Mishawaka, IN—the last century has seen a lot of expansion in inventory, staff and global locations. Today, Lebermuth remains family run with Robert Brown acting as president and perfumer, Alan Brown as vice president and Melanie Brown as senior account executive. In fact, when Perfumer & Flavorist magazine took a recent trip to Indiana to visit the company, our tour guides included both Alan and Robert. Having grown up in the industry, the two were able to educate the P&F magazine staff in all things having to do with mint, essential oils and the processes that make the company work and succeed. Not only did we get a hands-on experience in the company’s 45,000-sq-ft facility, we were persuaded to stop in nearby South Bend to visit one of the local mint farms (see "On Site: Shady Lane Farms" in the Aug 20 edition of PFnow). Most importantly, we learned what makes this 100-year-old company tick.

In addition to its high quality mint oils, Lebermuth now offers many other essential oils, including citrus, herb and spice oils. As Alan Brown explains, “In the beginning, we focused on selling just spearmint and peppermint oils to the confectionary and personal care giants. Today, we continue to be one of the world’s largest grower direct suppliers of mint oils; however, we’ve expanded this initiative to be a grower direct supplier of many types of essential oils.”

Any small to mid-size flavor and fragrance company will tell you that it is constantly searching for ways to differentiate itself in a very competitive industry. Lebermuth is doing just that. One of its unique capabilities is Lebermuth’s state-of-the-art fractionation equipment. As Alan explains, this allows Lebermuth to “create new materials that we can incorporate into a blend or compound—enabling us to have what the industry knows as ‘captive’ ingredients.” Due to the expense involved, this capability is usually reserved for the large companies in the industry.

So, while Lebermuth has seen a lot of growth over the last century, the heart and core of the company remains the same. Its values, including quality, teamwork, integrity, honesty, partnership, environment, etc., haven’t wavered and will surely remain steady to see the company through the next century.