In 1907, the chemist Dr. Otto Röhm had modernized leather production with an innovative enzymebased bating process for animal skins and founded the company Röhm & Haas together with his partner, businessman Otto Haas. Growing demand for their product OROPON made it necessary to expand production capacity, but this was not possible at the existing site in Esslingen, Swabia. Suitable premises were found in a former shutter and parquet factory in Darmstadt. Several factors were decisive in the choice of the new site. The existing buildings, a residence with an annexed one-story factory building including a boiler house, engine room, and storage shed, were able to be used immediately. An electrical power and lighting system as well as railway tracks with a turntable in the yard and a rail connection to the Main-Neckar Railway were already installed. In addition, the site was close to important leather production centers such as Offenbach and Worms. At around 5,800 m², the new factory premises was considerably larger than the old one and had room for expansion. On April 1, 1909 the purchase agreement was concluded with the Bank for Trade and Industry for a purchase price of 135,000 Marks. Then one thing followed another: The granting of the license on July 16, 1909 was fol-lowed by the relocation of the company headquarters to Darmstadt on July 22, 1909, the entry in the commercial register on August 14, 1909, and the start of production at the end of August.
The greater space available in Darmstadt enabled new products to be developed for the leather, textile, and detergent industries; from 1919, pharmaceutical products were also manufactured. Another mainstay was added when Otto Röhm turned to plastics research in 1911/12. The first marketable acrylic polymers were developed in 1928, and major success came in 1933 with the invention of PLEXIGLAS®. Even after 1945, important products were developed in Darmstadt such as VISCOPLEX® oil additives, EUDRAGIT® tablet coatings, and ROHACELL® rigid foam.
After several mergers, Röhm & Haas (from 1971 Röhm GmbH) became part of Evonik Industries AG. Today, some 1,500 people work in all segments of Evonik Industries on the now 160,000-m² premises of the Darmstadt site.