Walking the Talk: Living our values at D.D. Bean Atlas Match

You can’t survive in the match industry without having deeply held values.  Not only do we have a long-standing commitment to the industry and matches as the last American producer, but we have 6-core values we live by:

  • Communication
  • Innovation
  • Adaptability
  • Teamwork
  • Dependability
  • Positivity

It is no accident that the same core values that have helped us overcome the challenges of the last 20-years are the values that have sustained us during the coronavirus crisis.  By conducting ourselves daily -D.D. Bean and Atlas Match – in accordance with our core-values have nurtured habits and practices that have allowed us to carry on in the face of adversity.  Nobody saw the pandemic coming.  We are grateful that we had some skills to help us cope.


As the coronavirus unfolded, we adapted.  It meant a lot of changes.  And fast.  But we are open minded and agile.  We adapted to the circumstances as best we could. We are still adapting.  We are so proud of how willing and able our employees have been to the adaptations. 


Match making is an old art.  And much of our equipment is old.  In fact, we still use a tray former that dates back to the last century!  But we have innovated where it counts.  The company, its leaders, mechanics, and operators live by a continuous improvement mindset.  The curiosity endemic to our work force delivers innovative solutions time and time again.  We may be an old American industry, but we are never stagnant.

Today, we are deploying a new digital transformation strategy to help us be a better supplier to the matchbook, box match, and coaster market.  We are partnering with Xerox and XMPie in a novel way to provide faster, consistent, high quality match and beer coaster products to America.  We want to make sure anyone that needs a match, can get a match. On their terms.  Designed and ordered by them, on their schedule.  Not on our terms.  We want to meet the market where it is.  Ordering matches online.

The D.D. Bean Time Machine

Time Machine

I recently heard an interview with the founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, and I loved the way he described the upstate New York factory as a time machine.  It was the dedicated employees and the traditional equipment that drew him in and triggered him to purchase and revive the yogurt business.

When we give tours at D.D. Bean to vendors and match collectors and prospective employees they express the same sentiment.  A Time Machine.  We are not insulted when people say this.  We are proud.  Because it means we are true stewards of our craft.  It means we have stitched together the important match making traditions with modern technologies.

Match Strips at D.D. Bean
Match Strips

Our plant represents generations of hard work and clever engineering.  Today, we put all that to good use as the only American match maker.  It may not be every day that Americans think about matches.  It may be only the rare occasion when you can’t find your lighter, or you are camping and need to start the fire.  It could be when you want a nifty and eco-friendly ignition for your candles or incense.  Maybe you prefer a matchstick when lighting your cigar or pipe or rolled tobacco.  Whatever your reason for grabbing the matchbook or box of matches, you expect them to be there.  And that is our goal.  To remain America’s Match Company for this generation and the next. 

D.D. Bean Plant Jaffrey, NH
D.D. Bean Plant

This time machine will be here dependably making matches the traditional way for years and years and years.  For all Americans.

How to Buy Advertising in a Recession

restaurant matchbook covers

Turning up the Heat with Matchbook Advertising

So your ad budget has been cut.  The pandemic has shifted dollars from ad spend to necessary operational or administrative costs.  Maybe you are so unsure of how the recovery is going to unfold, so you are holding onto your cash.  Or your boss has simply said “No” spending.

In times so financial difficulty, advertising budgets are often the first cut.  According to a June 16, 2020, Wall Street Journal article “Ad Spending in U.S. Forecast to Dive 13%” the advertising industry is going to take a real hit.  So if you have cut your ad budget, you are not alone.  National and local brands are cutting back.  Even sole proprietors are watching the purse strings very carefully. 

The PPP (Paychex Protection Program) funds don’t allow for any advertising expense forgiveness.  Even though it is crucial to your restaurant’s health to get the word out that you are now open for business (with whatever your state restrictions are), the forgivable PPP funds can’t be used for that.

What are your options for promoting your business in a post-covid environment?  How can you maximize your spend to reach the most people?  What is the most affordable advertising?

  • Digital advertising

Many business owners are focusing on digital advertising.  There is an endless range of price points for buying this type of advertising.  Most common is the ‘per click’.  So you only pay if your ad gets a “hit”.

This type of advertising is critical for any business.  And if you don’t want to spend on digital because it seems complicated (i.e., Google Ads or Facebook Ads), there is always the free and easy to use Google-My-Business.  Also known as GMB.

If you haven’t set up your GMB page, do it now.  Like right now.  Stop reading this blog, and go to the setup page.  After you have started that process, come back and finish reading the blog, because now we get to the good stuff.

  • Print advertising

Say what?  Who is investing in print these days.  Well the answer is less than before.  Print advertising is falling at a rate of 26% (source:  WSJ, 6/16/2020, Ad Spending in U.S. Forecast to Dive 13%).  We are particularly sad about this because the iconic print industry helped to build this country.  But as a realist, we understand that technology and time move one.  Magazines and newspapers, publishers of all types of distributed printed content, are feeling the downward pressure.  To offset the decline, print publishers are augmenting with digital media.

  • Promotional Products

Saving the best for last.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  The creative designers who miss the tangible output of a well-crafted print ad campaign, can look to promotional products to get their creative fix.

Print on matchbooks and box matches.  Why not?  These palm-billboards are a tiny canvas for your logo or message.  And they can be created in thousands, so you can gleefully give one to each of our cherished customers. 

The cost?  Pennies each.  There are price points for every budget.  The flexibility to design is almost endless, and the lead time is a just 10-working days.  Best of all – the matches are made right here in the good old USA by D.D. Bean and Atlas Match.  Produced by… wait for it… real matchmakers.  Our staff has been mixing chemicals, punching match stems from recycled paperboard, and printing match covers since 1938.  So why not give it a try?  The risk is small for you and the upside is huge.

The answer to buying advertising in a recession starts with matchbooks.  Use this unique and American Made tiny-canvas to get your message across.  Once you have this give-away match at your restaurant or bar or other business, the consumer will do the rest.  They take the matches and from there it travels with them to be viewed by as many as 10-new people.  And that’s not all – the match holder, the one who accepted your generous gift of a matchbook, will see the image at least 20-times – repetition is the key to memorable advertising.

Spark Your Imagination:

Please Pass the Clutter

Match Collection

Don’t throw away your match collection!  You might be caught up in the trendy “minimizing” movement.  And good for you.  It feels GREAT to clean up your space and clear out clutter.  But when it comes to mementos like matches – one of a kind little works of art – don’t toss them in the garbage.  This is one of those times when your trash is someone else’s treasure.

A phillumenist is someone who collects matches.  There are thousands of phillumenists who would love to have your cast-offs.  Amateur collectors might be interested in taking your restaurant matches too.  You never know which matchbook or box match triggers a sweet memory for someone. 

Matches are like memory anchors.  When you see the cover of a matchbook, naming a restaurant where you last had dinner with your spouse, it tugs at your memory and pulls out the dinner date.  Reliving the experience brings you joy. 

Maybe the match is a box of wooden sticks with the logo of your favorite barbeque place.  When you see that box you can almost taste the mesquite flavor of the smoked brisket.  And who was with you?  Was it your son or daughter?  Possibly an old friend?  Life is hard enough; we need our cherished memories.

So you could choose to make your match collection an accessory to your home , or you could continue with the minimizing trend and “when in doubt, throw it out”.  Maybe a mixture of both? 

But instead of tossing them into the garbage, reach out to the Rathkamp Matchcover Society.  They are the modern stewards of a century old match collecting tradition.  They may be interested in salvaging your collection, because they know that vintage matches are worth saving.

The Engineering of Matches

One of the most important tools throughout history has been fire.  If we go back to the prehistoric times, fire was everything for people.  It gave them warmth, light, and cooked their food.  The only problem was that it was very difficult for them to create.  Most of use can’t imagine what life would have been like without being able to spark a flame easily. Before matches were created, people simply used flint and steel.  Thankfully, the match was first created – accidentally- in 1826.  In 1826, a pharmacist named John Walker saw a dry lump on a stick when he was working and mixing chemicals.  Once he tried to scrape it off, he created a flame.  He then created the modern match out of cardboard sticks.  He dipped the cardboard into his match head material and – poof – instant matches. These hand made matches started to sell very quickly and once they got more popular, he added wooden splints to his product line. And a touch of sulfur on the tips of the matches, for some added fuel and sensitivity.

            The demand for matches grew more and more, and soon factories were created.  This invention really took off. Two Quaker merchants named Francis May and William Bryant created a factory in England around 1843 where they made the lucifer match.  The end of the match was created from white phosphorous, which is highly toxic.  The factory workers suffered the most because of this – a condition called Phossy Jaw. It was a painful and disfiguring condition caused by the toxic chemical.  Working to create these matches was extremely dangerous and many of the the working women died.  These awful conditions led to the Great Match Strike of 1888, where all of the women walked out of the Bryant & May match factory.  For more information on other match factories, read Prelude to the American Match Industry Story.

The  Great Match Strike led to safer chemicals used in matches.  In 1862, red phosphorus was used to replace the white phosphorus, which could only be lit by striking the side of the match box.  The first true Safety Matches.  While this was an amazing new invention, people wanted to continue to strike a match anywhere possible.  This could only be done by using white phosphorus and for 50 more years, white phosphorus was used despite all of its health risks.  By 1910, the manufacturing of lucifer matches had come to an end and the stable red phosphorus is used today.  Through all of these engineering changes in the 1800’s, eventually the match came out right.  Red phosphorus is printed on the match box, and the match head lights the paper match or wooden stick. 

This simple invention is easy to overlook.  But he impact it had on world cultures is not. From the employment of thousands of workers to the lighting of indoor gas stoves for kitchen cooking, matches left their mark. In a big way.

The same general design principle of the first safety match creation in 1826 is still used today.  Since the 1800’s it has been easy to safely light a match wherever and whenever needed.  While there has not been any new engineering on the modern match, it is interesting to know its history.  If you want to read more about the market for matches today, read The American Match Industry – Part 1.

Some have tried to improve on the basic invention of the paper matchbook. In the 1970’s the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) targeting the industry for safety reforms. The result? Moving the matchbook striker from the front to the back of the book. The consensus at the time was that no additional engineering was possible given the simple basic design of the book match.

Over the decades of the rise of the American Match Factories (until their decline in 1977) each match chemist developed their own proprietary match head formula.  Top secret.  Still, the basic chemical ingredients were the very same used by Bryant & May.  When it comes to building fire, there are only so many options.  Mother nature teaches us that.

Eliza Smith is a guest blogger and a student intern. She is studying Business at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She loves the beach at Sullivan’s Island, and was inspired to write this blog about the impact of plastic on the oceans and the willingness to make a better choice for the environment.

Take the Match: Sustainability of Matches Over Lighters

matchbook ddbean

The choice between striking a match or using a disposable lighter does not seem like a difficult or worrying decision for consumers.  It is easy to use what is on hand at the time without really thinking about any of the consequences it has.  When consumers do not think about these decisions, it shows how these simple choices we make can have negative effects on the environment.  Sustainable matches are easily recyclable and biodegradable.

            Unlike lighters, matches are made from wood or paper, which is easily biodegradable.  Because they are biodegradable, they won’t contribute to the growing waste problem in the world.  The most common type of wood matches are made from aspen or white pine.  Each tree can create hundreds of thousands of match sticks.  For an interesting read on the history of matches, try Prelude to the American Match Industry Story.            

          Full sized lighters can burn up to an hour.  These lighters eventually run out and are turned to be thrown away. Once a lighter is disposed, it will exist in our environment forever.  After they are disposed, these lighters will be either thrown into landfills, on the streets, or swept into the ocean.  Once these lighters are disposed into the ocean, they will easily be mistaken by fish for birds to eat.  One type of bird that is strongly affected by pollution is the Laysan Albatross bird.  This bird catches fish by skimming the water with its beak.  While doing this, it picks up other debris and plastic from the ocean.  In this article about the Layman Albatross birds, there are images showing that they have consumed disposable lighters.  This will kill them quickly, once eaten.

While it isn’t a pressing decision whether to use a match or a lighter, it is an easy choice.  Matches are usually free and can be found in a lot of different restaurants and stores.  This makes them even more accessible than lighters for people.  Highly engaged community convenience stores like Wawa and Sheetz, give away the books for free to their loyal customers who may prefer a recyclable match to the plastic lighter. Take the match.

The sustainability of matches over lighters can tremendously improve how the environment is affected.  Matches are biodegradable and environmentally friendly, which makes them an easy choice over a lighter.  They are also produced in the USA, which means a smaller carbon footprint over imported disposable lighters. To learn more about the match industry and the last match factory in America read more blogs on the DDBean website.

Eliza Smith is a guest blogger and a student intern. She is studying Business at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She loves the beach at Sullivan’s Island, and was inspired to write this blog about the impact of plastic on the oceans and the willingness to make a better choice for the environment.

American Match Industry – Part 2

We learned in Part 1, that by 2019 all the match factories that once existed in America were closed or sold, resulting in what we have today – one match factory in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.  As the sole survivor and steward to the iconic industry, we will be writing the future as we go.  But don’t worry, we have a plan.

Imagine if you were to visit the factory to see the new match operations:

“A new era of match making has emerged.  By combining the technologies of the Bean plant and the Atlas plant, all the different variations of match making methods are on display-in operating form-every day.  Because the match factories were rolling up for many years – since 1973 – the legacy of all matchmaking equipment is now bolted down to the D.D. Bean plant floor.  For example, we are running the very same equipment that was used in Canada at the Eddy Match plant, until it’s closure in 1999. 

On the shop floor you will find the best-of-the-best book match making equipment in the world.  The original D.D. Bean commodity matchbook machines are a marvel in their own right.  These matchbook or “booking” machines, run at twice the speed of any other semi-automated match-making machine ever in production.  Caddy packing is fully automated to meet the high-speed rate of the assembly machine.  The pace is rapid, but the quality – due to decades of honing the machine – is excellent.  World class.

Further down the production line, you will see the promotional and advertising matchbooks being produced on the card and flat fed machines.  Standing alongside these mechanized, synchronized, harmonized assembly machines are a team of American workers.  Each member of the team takes turns operating and packing for the machine.  Both operators are highly trained in quality control and take great pride in turning out a product our customers are delighted to own and share.

At the heart of the operation, deep inside the old brick and beam mill building, is the mixing room.  Four large kettles are filled and emptied and refilled daily, with all the match-making chemicals.  This is no easy job.  Historically, each match factory had its own formula for mixing match heads; each plant employed an official Match Chemist to monitor and modify the formula as needed.  Some plants have used robotics to blend the chemicals with electronic weighing systems. We prefer the traditional method of hand weighing and blending the chemicals.

In the mixing room, you will see important process controls, variable speed monitors, sensors, pumps.  But the key to a successful batch of match head composition is the mixer – his name is Cliff.  Years of practice and his batches come out the same every time.  We know, because we test every one.

This new era match factory employs many other specialists too.  In addition to experienced machine operators (which requires years of training because all of our machines are one-of-a-kind) and experts in mixing the match head, there is a team of mechanics and a team of printers.  Both are specialized to support the modern match plant.”

This modern match plant is the natural progression in a mature industry.  What you won’t see are the milestones between the match plant closings of the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s.  You won’t see the dramatic change in distribution channels when the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) banned advertising of cigarettes on matches.  And you won’t see the progressive disappearance of a free matchbook. 

Each of these major events have inevitably jolted the industry from the path it was on to a completely new and unmarked one.  The American match-makers have risen to the challenge each time, and proven their ingenuity and perseverance by refusing to go away.  This is a story of survival. This is a story of commitment.  This is a story of an industry refusing to become obsolete.  Refusing to be eradicated by advanced manufacturing or robotics.  Refusing to be erased by imported substitute products.  We make fire.  Portable fire for everyone.  Right here in the USA.  And we will not be snuffed out.  

American Match Industry – Part 1B

The next installment of our History of the American Match Industry (Part II) was due last week.  The company historian, Mark Bean, was writing the series.  Mark had collected hundreds of pages of newspaper articles, magazine stories, books, letters, and company reports.  In addition, he listened to dozens of anecdotes, many first-hand from the major figures in the industry.

Sadly, our own Match-King passed away on August 12, 2019, unexpectedly.  The historical record of the American Match Industry is now incomplete.  Mark was creating and writing the record for us, as we went along.  He was working the story forward to the present day; to the current time, when the industry has consolidated into one plant and one company, led by the Bean Family.  Mark accepted the role of industry steward with honor and respect.

We will continue to tell the story, picking up where we left off in the last installment American Match Industry – Part I.  But for the moment, we will pause to reflect on the legacy of Mark Bean.

If you read the first blog Prelude to the American Match Industry, you learned about Ivar Kreugar.  Ivar was titled the Match King.  He was an imposing and almost fantastical character.  He was considered a business titan, being both ruthless and unwavering.  There are books and business case studies about this early day entrepreneur.

Mark was the anti-Kreugar.  His intentions were noble, where Kreugar’s were profit driven.  Mark cared more about the people than the profits.  His agenda was transparent and true.  Mark wanted the industry to succeed, for the people and for the nostalgic mark we made on the country.  Mark appreciated the thread of humanity that drove the story from the beginning.  He was fascinated by Kreugar.  But also by the other leaders, especially those who developed the book match industry.  Such as, Diamond Match’s O.C. Barber.  And the leaders of Eddy Match in Canada, and Universal Match from Hudson, New York.

In 1990, Mark brought together the leaders of the match companies, and created the American Match Council.  In the 2000s, he again brought the industry together to develop supply agreements that would leverage the strengths of the remaining factories.  He reached out to Diamond Match, when closing their 100-year old factory in 2017.  Mark salvaged a piece of that legacy, and brought their fire-starter line to New Hampshire.  And it was 2016, when he facilitated the final chapter in the paper match story by purchasing the last plant, Atlas Match, and folding it into the D.D. Bean family.  In 2018, he gathered a team of historians, town and state leaders, match collectors, and museum experts to explore the viability of a Match Museum.  At his urging and persistence, the project grew legs and is deep in development now.

The thread is obvious.  Since he came on the scene in 1978, Mark Bean actively and passionately worked to better the industry.  He was a true stakeholder, working tirelessly for the betterment of us all.  His vision was for the people who built the industry, ran the machinery, talked to the customers, and developed the relationships with suppliers and distributors, to succeed in keeping the industry’s flame burning bright.

The American Match Industry – Part 1

The market for “lights’ in the United States evolved throughout the twentieth century from wooden stick matches to paper book matches. In the early decades of the century, wooden matches were well established throughout most of the world, thanks in large part to the monopolistic empire of the infamous Swedish financier Ivar Kreuger.  Without the rise of Swedish Match and Ivar Kreuger’s thirst for profits, the global match industry would look much different today.   

However, in North America, a different trend emerged.  Paper book matches took hold because they were less expensive to produce, and the matchbook cover was ideal for advertising. By the 1940’s, the give-away matchbook was firmly established as a highly effective and cost-efficient advertising medium. During the war years, matchbooks were used for patriotic messages

Striking Facts: 

  • By the mid 1970’s – the match industry’s peak years – there were at least a dozen independent match companies in the U.S. and Canada operating over 25 different factories.  
  • Each factory had their own product focus: 
  • Some factories produced only book matches,  
  • while others produced both wooden and book. 
  • Some factories produced only promotional advertising matches, 
  •  and others produced commodity resale matches for grocery stores and for distribution wherever tobacco products were sold.  
  • The industry employed over 2,000 workers and the market for book matches alone was estimated to be more than 35 billion matchbooks per year – that’s 700,000,000,000 lights! 
  • Before 1970, disposable butane lighters did not exist. By 1985, lighters had taken 50% of the lights market from matches causing half the match factories to close. By the end of the century, disposable lighters had captured about 95% of the market. Soon thereafter, D.D. Bean & Sons Co. in Jaffrey, New Hampshire and Atlas Match Corp. in Euless Texas were the only two remaining book match producers left in North America.  
  • In 2016, D.D. Bean & Sons Co. acquired Atlas Match to become the sole survivors in this great American industry. D.D. Bean continued to produce resale matchbooks at its factory in New Hampshire and Atlas continued to produce promotional matchbooks, matchboxes and coasters at the factory in Texas. 
  • By 2018, it became clear that if there was any chance of keeping the American match industry alive, the two factories would need to become one. As a result, the extremely difficult decision was made to close the Atlas factory in Texas and move the manufacturing operation to New Hampshire. 
  • Founded in 1938, D.D. Bean & Sons Co. is a third-generation family business. D.D. Bean is not only the last remaining manufacturer of matches in the United States, it is the largest producer of book matches in the world. 
  • Today, although the market for matches is much smaller, this industry still employs about 100 American workers, many career matchmakers, and some following in their parents’ and even grandparents’ footsteps over the company’s eighty-one-year history. Together, they have worked to become the survivors of this great American industry. Together, they stand determined to build a great future to carry forward to the next generation. Together, D.D. Bean and Atlas, we are America’s Match Company! 

Prelude to the American Match Industry Story


The Global Match Kickoff of 1912

The story of the American Match Industry could read like a suspense novel.  There are villains and heroes; there is suffering and victory. There is planning and conniving, deception, and old-fashioned bad luck.

The 100-year saga takes place across the globe, in countries from Sweden to India to Australia to Brazil.  In those days, when travel was primarily by train and boat, it took tremendous persistence and motivation, to grow an industry and replicate a newly mechanized production model.  The American Match Industry is a subset of a much larger, more complex global economy of matches and the production of portable, convenient, reliable fire.

In the beginning, there was fire.  And to harness that fire, strapping it to a wooden stick for maximizing profits, was Ivar Kreuger (monopolistic Swedish financier).  Ivar Krueger was the engineer behind the Swedish Match domination of the world match commodity market.  [To read the Swedish Match version of the company’s history, visit www.swedishmatch.com].  Apparently, Ivar was driven by profits, and didn’t always care how it was delivered.  Some say his plan was to acquire and/or build every match factory in the world, at which point he would raise the prices [and spend his days counting all his money].  Maybe that is true.  Or just maybe he was a very clever, overly successful business leader and entrepreneur.  We can’t really know.  I can only glean so much from his Wikipedia page.

Ivar died by suicide in 1932, he was just 52 years old.  His family thought the circumstances were suspicious, but the investigation didn’t pan out.  For an interesting read about the life and death of this business titan, try The Match King, by Frank Partnoy

Over the decades, the match industry underwent multiple mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies.  Even Ivar’s beloved Swedish Match evolved and transformed itself multiple times across every continent.  Almost every wooden match factory in the world had some association with Swedish Match, including our very own Beal Industries, in Kingston Jamaica.  The Bean Family partnered with Swedish Match to run a factory in Jamaica producing Comet brand matches for the local market.  The factory closed just 10-years ago, due to competition from imports.   

Few industries have a history dominated by so many mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies.  The industry refuses to wink- out without a fight.  After all, the world still needs fire and matches are portable, dependable, and comparatively inexpensive.  Today, in 2019, there is just one match factory in America.  You guessed it – D.D. Bean – which acquired Atlas Match and Eddy Match in 2016.  The final chapter in a long sequence of mergers and acquisitions. The industry consolidated.  Keeping the flame alive.

Fortunately, D.D. Bean / Atlas Match, the Bean family, and the 84 Bean-family-of-workers, are here to tell the story of the American Match Industry.  Being the only surviving match factory in America, gives D.D. Bean an editorial right and obligation to tell the story in all its anecdotal glory.  In subsequent blogs, we will try to fairly and honestly tell the tale of the industry.  We will provide some facts and statistics, maybe even dazzle with charts and graphs.  But in the end, it will be the personal stories and nostalgic tales that capture the essence of this old-fashioned, smoke-stack industry.

As you read about our story, and the story of the American Match industry, you might think “who really cares?”  “I never thought about matches before, so why now?” And maybe you don’t really care.  But you should, and here’s why. 

  • The story of matches is the story of bringing fire to the homes of millions of people in far-away, even remote parts of the world, as well as our own communities here. 
  • Matches were the invention that boosted the quality of human life. 
  • Matches brought cooking indoors, and light where there was none. 
  • Matches could be easily carried from place to place – portable fire. 
  • Cooking food and staying warm was never more convenient. 
  • Reading and writing long into the night was made possible by matches and candles and lamps.
  • Matches are sometimes given away for free (what else can you get for free today?)

Looking back to 1912, and how the Swedish Match empire grew, it was inevitable that match production would spread, because match production was like providing water or oxygen.  Matches were affordable for even the poorest households and people needed matches.  But that may not be why Ivar Kreuger and his team built match factories around the globe.  Without the rise of the Swedish Match production model and Ivar Kreuger’s thirst for profits, the global match industry would look much different today. 

Let’s imagine that for a minute.  In 1918, Swedish Match installed the first continuous match machine in the Kalmar, Sweden.  Next, this was rapidly duplicated globally.  The company had created the most efficient match machinery ever used (still in use today), trained local staff on how to operate and fix it, and provided all the raw materials needed (at a cost) for the factory to operate.  Sounds a little like a modern-day McDonald’s franchise.  A complete turn-key setup.  It was destined to succeed.  Locals were paid for important work, and managers were often recruited from the local communities.

What if Swedish Match had not globalized match production, but each nation was left to evolve their own match production.  I think it would look much different today.  Instead of wooden matches in Brazil, you might have something like Mexico – Wax “Vesta” matches.  Or maybe the South American countries would have innovated something completely different given their natural resources.  We will never know.  Swedish Match equipment (branded ARENCO) is still operating today in Chile, Brazil, Sweden, and India.  Maybe even Pakistan and South Africa.

As it turns out, Swedish Match also operated wooden match factories in America.  But for some reason, a different trend emerged.  Call it match-industry evolution.  Paper matches emerged in the 1940’s and coexisted with the wooden match industry in America until 2017 (when the last wooden match factory closed).

To learn more about the paper match industry in America – the sole surviving segment of the match industry today – look for the next blog installment titled “The American Match Industry”.  And if you have any comments regarding this prelude to the American Match Industry Story, please email me at [email protected].