Becoming an international company (1881–1914)
Between 1881 and 1913, Bayer developed into a chemical company with international operations. Although dyestuffs remained the company's largest division, new fields of business were joining the fold.
Of primary importance for Bayer's continuing development was the establishment of a major research capability by Carl Duisberg (1861–1935). A scientific laboratory was built in Wuppertal-Elberfeld - which was also the company's headquarters from 1878 until 1912 - that set new standards in industrial research. Bayer's research efforts gave rise to numerous intermediates, dyes and pharmaceuticals, including the "drug of the century," Aspirin®, which was developed by Felix Hoffmann and launched onto the market in 1899.
The Pharmaceutical Department is established
The financial foundation for expansion was laid in 1881, when Bayer was transformed into a joint stock company called "Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedr. Bayer & Co." The company's impressive growth in its early years can be directly linked to its growing workforce, which grew from three in 1863 to more than 300 in 1881.
An international presence
The creation of a worldwide sales organization was a decisive factor in the company's continuing development. Bayer had already shipped dyestuffs to many countries in its early years. By 1913, over 80 percent of revenues came from exports. Bayer today is represented in nearly all countries of the world. In 1865 the company acquired an interest in its first coal-tar dyes factory in Albany, New York. Over the following decades, additional foreign affiliated companies were established in order to secure and expand Bayer's position in important markets. Shortly before World War I, the company maintained subsidiaries in Russia, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States. Of the approximately 10,000 people employed by Bayer in 1913, nearly 1,000 worked outside of Germany.
Leverkusen becomes company headquarters
As time went on, the Elberfeld site proved to be too small for continuing expansion. For this reason, Bayer first purchased the alizarin red factory of Dr. Carl Leverkus & Sons north of Cologne in 1891 before acquiring additional land along the Rhine River. Starting in 1895, Bayer systematically expanded this site according to plans drawn up by Carl Duisberg, who served as the company's Management Board Chairman from 1912 to 1925. Leverkusen became the company's headquarters in 1912.