The history of the chemicals industry is one of a continual cycle of small companies being established, growing and either merging with or being acquired by a larger company. In fact, there is an entire sub-industry of firms that serve in a chemical advisory role to do nothing more than facilitate these mergers and acquisitions. Of course, the chemical industry is similar to all others in that it experiences periods of expansion and contraction. The worldwide economic decline that began in 2008 did not so much hurt the industry as it caused a slowdown in the rate of growth. In fact, in 2012 the global market grew by 2.6 percent, down from the 2011 rate of 3.8 percent.
The ongoing global demand for all forms of chemical products is an indication of just how vital the role of chemicals in our society has become. The focus of the chemical industry today is on the development of new chemical combinations and products. The billions invested annually are one of the reasons that smaller companies find it so difficult to survive as independents. To remain competitive, chemical companies must continually improve the efficiencies of their operations, particularly in those segments of the market that have been commoditized. On the other hand, every segment of the market related to the fossil and petroleum fuels segments, including synthetics, sees increasing opportunities as the unending long-term growth in demand means the requirement for alternatives to the many petroleum-based must be found and will generate dynamic opportunities for the companies that succeed in doing so.