Investigations: Billie Sol's Supplier

Back in 1958, New York's Commercial Solvents Corp. obviously thought it would get even more solvent by placing faith and credit in Billie Sol Estes. a rising young Pecos, Tex., wheeler-dealer. But by last week it was plain that doing business with Billie Sol was Commercial Solvents' worst mistake in a remarkable record of good, bad and indifferent commercial guesses.

The company got its start just after World War I, when it took over rights to a bacteria-fermentation process for producing a solvent used in artillery explosives; the process had been formulated by...

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