1951 - Wyo-Ben began with a partnership consisting of Keith, Rockwood and Neal Brown, together with Barbara Brown Bixby and R.E. Dansby, who acquired mill property at Greybull, Wyoming and bentonite claims. Their partnership was carried on under the name of Wyo-Ben Products Co. In its first year of operation the company processed 15,000 tons of bentonite which was sold for rotary drilling and oil well cementing mud. Over the next six years its business grew steadily, supported by an expanding economy and a rapid increase in the growth of oil well drilling technology.
1954 – Wyo-Ben supplied a number of carloads of bentonite to a pilot plant at Aurora, Minnesota, which was engaged in developing a process for concentrating and pelletizing taconite iron ore. The development of iron ore pelletizing using bentonite as a binder proved successful, and the technology was adopted on a wide scale by the iron ore industry.
1963 – A number of large-scale taconite pelletizing plants had been developed in both the United States and Canada. The company negotiated a bentonite supply agreement with a large new pelletizing plant located at Sept Isles, Quebec, and pioneered the methods of shipping a semi-crude bentonite to markets requiring water transportation as a part of the delivery movement. Wyo-Ben’s activities in the supply of drilling mud materials had broadened to include strategically located warehouse distribution centers in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, and in the states of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
1964 – In order to meet the increasing demand for its bentonite products, significant improvements were made at the Greybull plant.
1969 – A second bentonite processing plant was constructed at Lovell, Wyoming, which was designed specifically to produce a semi-crude bentonite for export shipment to the taconite pelletizing industry.
1980 – With the acquisition by Wyo-Ben of large bentonite reserves located near Thermopolis, Wyoming, and substantial increase in the demand for bentonite by the taconite pelletizing industry, the Thermopolis plant was constructed. The total milling capacity for the company reached 650,000 tons per year. In addition to bentonite production, Wyo-Ben also supported its own and other oilfield service companies through a network of 45 North America warehouses. Positioned from the Gulf Coast to the Arctic Circle, this wholesale division provided bentonite and related chemical to the oil and gas industry until its downturn in the early 1980’s.
1980s – The oil well drilling and iron ore pelletizing business declined dramatically. Wyo-Ben suffered tremendous losses. The principals were forced to make a monumental decision; Try to stay in business or fold like so many other companies. Wyo-Ben redirected sales efforts and changed the character of the company. While withstanding innumerable hardships, Wyo-Ben slowly transformed into the strong, diversified company it is today.
1983 – One of the markets that Wyo-Ben moved into after the collapse of the oil well drilling and taconite pelletizing markets was that of groundwater. Wyo-Ben began research and development on a new bentonite product which would create a better method of abandoning seismic shot holes. The product, Enviroplug®, was the first commercially produced bentonite chip. Word spread and the product’s properties were applied to other industries, including water well. Wyo-Ben began supplying groundwater contractors with other bentonite products, including drilling mud and grouting materials. Recognizing the need in the marketplace for better distribution, Wyo-Ben partnered with existing wholesalers offering sole distributorships within areas.
1990s -Continually being responsive to demand in the market place, Wyo-Ben’s products quickly expanded into other industries including: water and mineral exploration, horizontal directional drilling, oil and gas exploration, caisson drilling and tunneling, environmental sealants and industrial waste water treatment.
1995 - A new suite of products was introduced, Cleartreat®, designed specifically for treating industrial waste water.
Today, the Wyo-Ben legacy lives on through Keith Brown’s sons, David Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Richard Brown, Vice President – Resources, and through Rockwood Brown Jr., Vice President – Legal Counsel.