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Company History

General Chemical Corporation commenced business in December 1939, a few months after the outbreak of the Second World War. Its first core business was repacking caustic soda into small tins for retail sale to housewives wanting to make their own soap. Using soaps as a starting point, the business expanded into many avenues such as tanning and finishing agents, followed by bitumen, sealers and adhesives, and finally moved onto paints and synthetic resins in 1965. 

In 1982, Genkem took over the Sandtex business from Blue Circle. Sandtex “The Original Lighthouse Paint” was the first textured coating ever made in South Africa. Genkem then acquired a licenced agreement with a number of European companies as agents for bitumen, sealers, resin, wood adhesives, adhesives, silicones as well as the Bostik range of products. In 1988, Genkem bought Brooklyn Castrol, who was for many years the largest adhesive manufacturer in South Africa.

Qualichem, the forerunner to the Qualichem-Genkem Group, was established by Donald Perry on 1 September 1983. With a grand capital of R70.00, Donald began making water-based coatings. The laboratory was his mother’s kitchen and the laboratory mixer, a cake mixer! The production facility was his late father’s backyard and consisted of a 200 litre drum and high-speed mixer making up the mixing facility. 

Over the years, Qualichem has acquired many trade names, such as Hercules Paints, Chemical Specialists Adhesive Division, Tile Doctor, Ashley & Radmore, and Ritachem to name a few. In 1999, the biggest acquisition came when Qualichem acquired Genkem and the brand names: Genkem – a comprehensive range of adhesives and sealants, Nova Coatings – interior and exterior coatings for wood and hard surfaces, Bourne – wooden floor sealers and Sandtex – specialist decorative coatings. These acquisitions have enabled Qualichem-Genkem to form one of the largest adhesive manufacturers in South Africa. 

Qualichem-Genkem is proudly 100% South African and offers the highest quality product ranges which have over the years won the Company esteemed status, both locally and internationally. The Company has grown dramatically over the years and caters to the following industries: flooring, woodworking and timber, footwear, packaging, book binding, labels, paper converting, automotive and many more high demanding specialist adhesive and coating applications. 

Qualichem-Genkem is dedicated to producing high quality products and thus competes both locally and internationally, and as a result, numerous products have been awarded many prestigious contracts. The Company actively embraces the movement towards operating in a more environmentally friendly manner, and continuously strives to lead with new developments in the industry. The Company’s aim is to incorporate recycled packaging and move away from solvent-based formulations wherever possible; to ensure products keep pace with evolving needs. With large and well-equipped factories, skilled and dedicated professionals and with access to the latest in technological advances worldwide, the Company is ready and able to meet any new challenges to its expertise and energies. 


At Genkem, we are committed to being the leading manufacturer and marketer of high-quality adhesives and coatings. We differentiate ourselves through continuous innovation and exceptional customer service, with a focus on sustainability and social responsibility. Our goal is to inspire our employees, customers, and stakeholders to join us on this journey towards becoming the industry leader. We will measure our success through revenue growth, market share, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement, and we strive to exceed our targets year after year.


Genkem strives to be the market leader in adhesive and coatings technology, recognized for our commitment to innovation, sustainability, and exceptional customer service. Our vision is to create a world where our adhesives and coatings enable the creation of safer, more sustainable, and more beautiful products and environments. We envision a future where our employees, customers, and stakeholders share in our passion for excellence, and we will continue to innovate and exceed expectations to achieve this vision.

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