After losing everything he held dear, Hungarian chemist and Holocaust survivor Moses Frisch came to America to build a new life. Today, his family carries on the legacy of their beloved founder and the business he established 65 years ago.
Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., for more than six decades, AP&G Co., Inc. recently moved to a new corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility in Bayonne, N.J. But the makers of the Catchmaster brand of rodent and insect control products have no intention of forgetting where they came from.
“My father, one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever known, loved manufacturing things that made a positive difference in people’s lives,” recalls Steven Frisch, president and CEO of the 65-year-old business. “He taught me to believe that you can succeed at anything you put your mind to.”
Steven and his sons, Jonathan and Jeffrey Frisch, have certainly put their minds to building AP&G. Under their leadership, Moses Frisch’s small adhesives company has become a global supplier to the pest management industry. And its momentum continues to this day, a living legacy to their father’s and grandfather’s commitment to personal and professional excellence.
“Five or six years ago we realized we were going to need more space,” explains Jonathan, vice president of global sales and marketing. “We love Brooklyn, but it wasn’t economically feasible for us to expand there. We’ve moved from a 110,000-square-foot facility to one that’s 200,000 square feet. Now we have space to spread our wings and maximize our efficiencies.”
The new facility expands space for the administrative team as well as production; doubles the number of loading docks in the warehouse; and provides more efficient storage capabilities. “We no longer need to store hundreds of 55-gallon drums of adhesive. Now they’re stored in 10,000-gallon tanks,” observes Steven.
Jeffrey Frisch, vice president of operations, expounds upon the efficiency potential of the new Bayonne facility: “We had the opportunity to design our production facility to meet our unique specs, including accommodating a number of new production lines,” he says. “We were also fortunate to be able to transition the business over time so we wouldn’t have to interrupt production during the moving process.”
Despite the opportunity to transition over several months, moving the business was a complex process, because product demand didn’t just remain steady — it grew. Luckily for the Frisch family, they had learned from their patriarch how to persevere in challenging times.
A STRONG FOUNDATION. When Moses Frisch established Atlantic Paste & Glue in Brooklyn in 1952, he set the bar high for the generations to come. Having lost his first wife and their children, as well as his small business, to World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust, followed by losing his second start-up business to the post-war Communist regime, the self-made chemist emigrated from Hungary to the United States in 1948 for a fresh start.
The courage and commitment he demonstrated in building a new family and his third business inspires his descendants to carry on the family legacy to this day.
“No matter how many times my dad got knocked down, he always got back up. He was a spiritual person and believed strongly in God’s will. His deep faith gave him the fortitude to keep moving ahead,” says Steven.
Moses’ company began as a manufacturer of primarily water-based adhesives and flexographic inks for industrial applications. But when Steven joined the company full-time following his graduation from Brooklyn College in the 1970s, he offered a new perspective.
“My dad and I shared a passion for science. Having had my own laboratory in the house, I was bred to come into the business,” he says. “But I saw a need for us to pivot from the industrial market, where competition was fierce, to a niche we could own. I started developing adhesives that I believed would help us make that strategic move.”
Steven’s vision came to fruition when, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, AP&G identified their new niche: pest management.
“We developed a line of pressure-sensitive adhesives for pest control, and the market embraced them immediately,” says Steven. “Our glue traps filled a void in the marketplace. PMPs loved the results they were getting, particularly as they found they could catch two or three mice at one time.”
A BRIGHT FUTURE. Today, AP&G sells products under its Catchmaster brand in 70 countries, although Jeffrey points out that 85 percent or more of production happens in the U.S. “We’re moving quickly toward our goal of becoming a world-class manufacturer, as we bring interesting new products to the marketplace,” he says, offering the example of several new mechanical traps and ILTs coming to market soon. “We’re able to ensure the outstanding quality of these products because we manufacture them ourselves.”
All of the company’s products, which include a portfolio of IPM tools — mechanical traps, IPM monitors, rodent stations and more — are designed based on market needs, says Jonathan, adding that AP&G has several products in the pipeline “specifically designed to act as field intelligence for PCOs.”
“Our technical people are always out in the field interacting with, and soliciting feedback from, our customers,” he says. “The key question we ask ourselves every day when developing a new product is, ‘Will this product make the technician’s job easier and does it make them better at their job?’”
Moses Frisch would undoubtedly be proud of his son, grandsons and, in fact, all 160 employees of AP&G, for their commitment to providing new ideas and solutions to help customers succeed.
“My dad never stopped thinking and was always open to new ideas,” reflects Steven. “And one of the best things he taught us was this: If you fail, try, try again. There is no such thing as failure — only opportunity.”
The author is a Cleveland-based freelance writer and a frequent editorial contributor to PCT magazine.