Since 1930, the food service industry has been turning to Glissen Chemical Company for top quality products. Glissen Chemical was founded in Brooklyn, NY by Eugene Lehr along with his wife Annette in 1930. Eugene’s lessons on the importance of honesty, integrity, and quality have served his son, Joe Lehr, during his own sixty-four years with Glissen and helped build the company into a leading detergent manufacturer with distribution in 22 states.
Despite growing up in the family business, Joe Lehr at first had other career plans, but when his father became ill, Joe, who was 19 years old at the time, agreed to help the family out for a year until he recovered.
“I was very happy to do it,” Joe, now chief executive officer, recalls. The year was 1950, and the work, as it turned out, suited him; he joined Glissen Chemical permanently, learning the business literally “from the broom, up.”
“I made up my mind at 19 years of age that I wanted to be the most professional sales person in the industry,” Joe says. “I saw what my father was trying to do—going up against the ‘big guys’ to the best of his ability and trying to be better. He was always asking, ‘How can we be the very best there is?’”
In its early years, Glissen was a very small company with just one product, Nu-Foam Glass Washing Powder. Eugene had also owned an extract company that manufactured grenadine syrup and other cocktail mixes, but as mixed drinks declined in popularity he’d looked into what else was needed in the bar and restaurant industry.
“His goal was to have the finest products in the industry for hand-washing bar glassware,” Joe explains. “He wanted to develop a product that was easy on the hands and also the best in its field.”
The result was Nu-Foam glass washing powder, which was named by Joe’s sister, Judy Lehr Sarnoff and which Eugene himself developed and sold in and around the New York area. Soon after he joined the company, Joe was assigned the task of developing his father’s business in New England and Pennsylvania areas. With Glissen’s single Nu-Foam product in hand, he started knocking on the distributors doors.
“The usual comments I got were, ‘Let me see your full line; let me see your catalogue,’ Joe remembers. “But it didn’t discourage me because I knew I had something far
superior to what was on the market.”
Joe did manage to convince them to try his product, and little by little Glissen began to supply the restaurant industry with Nu-Foam powder detergent. From those first seeds planted in New York, today Glissen’s products are sold through distributors in half of America.
What separates Glissen Chemical’s products from the company’s competitors, explains Joe, is the type of ingredients that are used in developing these detergents. “All of our ingredients are cosmetic-grade, as opposed to industrial-grade,” he says. “Cosmetic-grade materials are much kinder on the hands. No matter what the use, the same standard of quality applies to all Glissen products.”
“Bar glassware used in taverns and restaurants should be absolutely, spotlessly clean,” he explains. “Residues can kill the head on beer, and Nu-Foam doesn’t leave any residue. In addition to being more eye-appealing, the head also helps the establishment to pour less beer.”
Joe has been committed to making Glissen Chemical successful not only financially, but also as a reputable, trustworthy company that customers can rely on for personalized service and uncompromising quality. “We try very hard to serve our customers as friends,” Joe explains.
Glissen now boasts a line of more than 20 meticulously researched and designed products—the key attributes of the company remain the same, the commitment to detail that has built the Glissen name into one synonymous with top-notch service and uncompromising quality.