Rhodia originated as part of a family business “Papeteries Verilhac Freres” (Verilhac Brothers, Paper-Maker). Clairefontaine (also a multi-generational family business) acquired Rhodia in 1987. After the acquisition, some Rhodia family members stayed on with the brand.
Didier Verilhac, a descendant of one of the founders and a current employee of Rhodia, described Rhodia’s origin: “Around 1880, Samuel and Albert Verilhac lived in Lyon and were wholesale merchants for printing paper. At that time there was no direct distribution system between the manufacturer and the printers. The company sold its product in the south of France as well as the French colonies of North Africa.”
“Albert had three sons; the oldest son died in World War II, the second and third sons created the company Papeteries Verilhac Freres in 1932 in Lyon. They started with 50 workers manufacturing various paper products. One brother had studied engineering, the other was very good in marketing. Together, they made a powerful duo. In 1934 they purchased an abandoned arms manufacturing plant and moved production from Lyon to Grenoble.”
“The first Rhodia pad was made in 1934 in Lyon. In Lyon there is the Rhone river. People born in this region are called Rhodaniens. The name came from there. The two trees in the logo represent the two brothers, these trees are epiceas (spruce). If you take a look at them, these trees are not identical. They are linked by a line to show that the brothers work together. The brand and the logo was invented by their mother whose name was Marie.”
Both brothers were close to 40 years old when World War II began. They discontinued production of Rhodia pads during the war because they couldn’t get supplies of quality paper. In 1947 production resumed, and the brothers opened a warehouse and and office in Paris to be able to distribute all over France.