The two young entrepreneurs moved west across the country until they reached La Salle, Illinois, where the ready availability of coal and access to Wisconsin-mined zinc ore provided the perfect setting for their business venture: a zinc smelter or refinery. Their timing was impeccable as the Matthiessen & Hegeler Zinc Company (M & H) was to become a major provider of zinc used in the production of armaments during the Civil War.
By 1880, M & H had become the largest zinc company in the U.S.; a manufacturing empire on the Illinois prairie. It maintained that distinction until 1910. Several inventions and innovations contributed to the success of the M & H Zinc Company. Edward Hegeler invented a zinc smelter, known as the Hegeler Furnace, and patented a kiln that came to be used by zinc manufacturers the world over. The company pioneered the recovery of sulfur dioxide to manufacture sulfuric acid which M & H distributed nationally.
In 1915 Edward Hegeler Carus, a grandson of Edward Hegeler founded Carus Chemical Company. Carus family members continue to manage the business today.