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In 2017, Quaker delivered another year of solid performance driven by organic volume growth of 6% on continued market share gains and increased production in several of the Company’s end markets. Also, the Company continued its disciplined approach to managing SG&A which helped offset a decline in the Company’s gross margin in 2017. The Company’s strong 2017 operating performance resulted in a 9% increase in its non-GAAP earnings per diluted share compared to 2016 and drove an 8% increase year-over-year in adjusted EBITDA to a record $115.2 million during 2017. This marked the eighth consecutive year of non-GAAP earnings and adjusted EBITDA growth. In addition, Quaker's average share price rose to $142.29, another historic high, representing a 50% increase year-over-year, and the quarterly dividend paid to shareholders was increased to $0.355 per share, the 46th straight year Quaker has maintained or increased its dividend.
First quarter of 2018 highlights included a 9% growth in net sales, net income of $12.7 million and earnings per diluted share of $0.95 which included costs related to the pending Houghton combination of $6.1 million or $0.38 per diluted share, a 17% increase in non-GAAP earnings per diluted share to $1.38, and a 9% increase in adjusted EBITDA to a record $30.8 million.
Second quarter of 2018 highlights included a 10% increase in net sales to $222.0 million driven by solid volume growth of 5%; net income of $19.2 million and earnings per diluted share of $1.44; and excluding total combination-related expenses and all other non-core items in each period a 26% increase in non-GAAP earnings per diluted share to $1.56 and a 15% increase in adjusted EBITDA to $32.2 million.
Third quarter of 2018 highlights included net sales of $222.0 million driven by solid volume growth of 4%, net income of $19.7 million and earnings per diluted share of $1.47, and driven by the Company’s strong operating performance a 21% increase in non-GAAP earnings per diluted share to $1.60, and a 12% increase in adjusted EBITDA to $33.0 million.