It’s a company that planted its roots in research and development, but has now moved into the commercial space marketing the products it develops.
Alexium International, with its headquarters in Greer, has reported revenue of more than $2.6 million in its first year of selling its various chemistries related primarily to flame retardant material.
The company got its start in 2009 when it purchased reactive surface treatment technology from the U.S. Air Force. They leveraged nearly $30 million invested by the U.S. military to begin product development for chemical and biological warfare.
It located a research facility in Greer in 2010.
The research and development continued with oil and water repellent treatment for various textiles and a move into flame retardant chemistry in 2012.
Things changed in 2013 when chief financial officer Nick Clark took over as CEO.
“We were originally coined an R&D company and in 2013 effectively what I did was say we had the chemistry and we had to try to bring it into the market,” Clark said in an interview with GSA Business Report.
Alexium continued its work with the military in 2013 after winning a contract to supply the U.S. Marine Corps with its flame retardant NyCo technology. It is that technology the military has used for its various military uniforms.
In 2015, the company began its commercialization efforts by marketing its various products.
“We really didn’t expect any major things to happen and, in 2016 we went out to sell the product,” Clark said. “Once we started to get the chemistry out in the market, it really just took off and it was like selling Coca-Cola. It really just sold itself.”
While the company is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, Clark works in Washington, D.C. with the Department of Defense and a lion’s share of the work is done in a 3,000-square-foot facility in Greer.
“What the facility is is a development facility for the chemistry,” Clark said. “We do all the research work and the proprietary mixing of the chemistry. It is like a testing facility.”
Plans are for the Greer plant to move operations to a 25,000-square-foot building near the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in mid-October to accommodate the growth. In Greer, Clark said the plant started with 12 employees and has grown to near 40 with the potential of hitting 55 by the end of the year.
“What is going on in Greer is developing a world-class chemistry that is not available in the form we develop it in anywhere else in the world,” Clark said. “It is going on soldier’s backs and on mattresses. We are keeping people safe in their homes and cars.”
Recently, the company announced a global expansion of its product offering after partnering with iTextiles, a distribution partner of Alexium in Asia. The “multi-tonnage” order will put Alexium products in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Company officials said the deal means $1.7 million in additional revenue for 2016.
On top of that, the company announced nearly $3 million in additional purchase orders for the automotive, bedding and carpet sectors. Alexium officials said they have inked a deal with an unnamed household apparel company to develop additional uses for Alexium’s chemistry.
"That's a strong sign that Alexium has moved from being on the edge of a trend to a recognized mainstream standard for innovative, environmentally friendly chemistries,” said Michael Schwartz, vice president of sales for Alexium, in a statement announcing the new orders.
Clark said they aren’t done there.
“It was a pretty good ramp-up and we are expecting more as we close out the calendar year,” Clark said. “People are taking notice of the chemistry and we are getting more and more orders.
“We continue to draw growth and people are starting to see that we have the environmentally friendly products. It has been a remarkable journey.”
He said the company continues its work with the Department of Defense and is also working to use its chemistry with the United Nations at its various refugee camps.
“We may not be BMW or GE, but we are doing unbelievably great things that some of the larger companies are not doing,” Clark said. “We are taking people in the region and bringing them into the company to do some really, really cool stuff.”
Moving forward, Clark said he envisions continued growth as some competition has halted their work. He said what Alexium provides is “niche” and that sets the company apart from some of its larger rivals in the market.
He added that corporate consultants will help Alexium International make a move to be traded in the U.S. He said he hopes to have that complete in the next year.
“Naturally, we continue to grow organically and we would love to see Alexium products on every soldier and every stitch of fabric,” Clark said. “Companies like Alexium normally get taken over for one of two things – being disruptive in the market where they just want to shut you down or they really want the technology you have.
“We would hope that we would keep our own status and maybe be a feeder into one of the bigger boys.”