Kolene Celebrates 75 Years

Kolene Corporation was founded in downtown Detroit in 1939 by John Shoemaker, and celebrates its 75th anniversary in March 2014.


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Kolene's original headquarters in 1939.


Kolene Corporation, founded in downtown Detroit in 1939 by John Shoemaker, celebrates its 75th anniversary in March 2014.


Built on a strong foundation of solving difficult manufacturing cleaning challenges, Kolene has a diverse portfolio of process technologies. The combination of chemistry, equipment, and service allows Kolene to supply turn-key metal cleaning systems to a wide variety of manufacturers. Industries served by Kolene – both domestic and international – include specialty steel mills, aerospace, defense, transportation, foundries, and general manufacturing.


Founded in downtown Detroit in 1939 by Shoemaker, Kolene was originally involved with novel chemical formulations for dry cleaning solvents.  In the early 1940s, they started to develop what would become their main niche or specialty:  molten salt baths for metal cleaning.  Their first molten salt products were developed to clean iron castings of sand, scale, and even exposed graphite.  This allowed them to be coated with lead or tin, greatly improving their corrosion resistance.  As World War II escalated, a tin embargo threatened production of critical wartime components such as ship’s bearings.  At the request of the United States Navy, Kolene adapted their technologies to prepare bearings for babbitting without the use of tin.  These basic technologies are still in use today for preparing iron castings.


Today, Kolene remains family-owned and is led by CEO and Chairman Roger Shoemaker, grandson of the founder. Roger is joined on the Board of Directors by his brother Richard. Other family members include Roger’s sons, Peter and Tim, who are also active in the company.


Kolene, still located in Detroit, continues to prosper by providing unique processes backed by dedicated people, long-term customer partnering, and service.


Below is a partial list of some of their widely used applications:


  • -scale conditioning of titanium, stainless steels, and superalloy oxides
  • -tungsten and chromium carbide plasma coating stripping
  • -cleaning sand and investment castings of shell, coring, sand, and graphite
  • -stripping organic paints and coatings (including CARC) from components and fixtures
  • -removing high performance forming lubricants from titanium & alloy fasteners
  • -cleaning engine cores of paint, carbon, grease, and grime prior to rebuild operations
  • -jet engine cleaning of carbides, sulfidation, oxidation, etc. during overhaul
  • -dissolving glasses from spinnerettes and also from forged and swaged alloys
  • -removing nylon, polyester, aramid, and other polymer deposits from tooling


For more information, please visit Kolene.com.