- About Us
- About Us
Charles O. Sethness, a self-educated immigrant, had spent the last several years developing a range of products, most notably Caramel Color, for the beverage industry. When the new carbonated beverages exploded onto the scene, the market for his colors expanded dramatically, prompting him to acquire a building and establish the Sethness Company in 1880. Success quickly followed.
Sethness expanded its range of Caramel Color to offer more choices to its customers. Making Caramel Color was still a matter of heating solidified crude corn sugar in large iron kettles over open fires. It was hard, hot work, but that did not discourage founder C.O. Sethness’ three sons, Charles Henry, Walter and Ralph, from joining the business and setting down principles for quality control that would stand for generations.
Charles H. Sethness Jr., the third generation, joined the family firm. Under his leadership, technological advances occurred rapidly. Stainless steel replaced iron processing and storage equipment, and pressure autoclaves were developed to improve the quality and range of color.
In 1965, Sethness constructed the world’s largest and most technologically-advanced Caramel Color plant in Clinton, Iowa — close to its major source of raw materials. Expanded many times since, the Clinton plant still retains the impressive title.
Charles B. Sethness ushered the fourth generation into the family business. Within a few years, brother Henry and Dan joined him. With customers and distribution centers on virtually every continent, demand continued to grow. In 1995, a new facility in Ahmedabad, India, initiated production of over 7,000 tons of Caramel Color annually.
The Sethness family’s dedication to Caramel Color has provided unbroken continuity. Today, Brian Sethness represents the fifth generation of the Sethness family to join the business. Sethness continues to respond to global growth. In 2004, Sethness-Roquette opened a plant in Merville, France. Seven years later in 2011, Sethness opened a plant in Lianyungang, China. The Sethness family and all employees worldwide remain dedicated to providing the world’s highest quality Caramel Color.