Fifty years in business is a tremendous accomplishment, according to Chem-Trend Limited Partnership President and CEO Devanir Moraes.
The company, established in Howell in 1960, is commemorated its golden anniversary in August.
"To be as successful as we've been through all these years and be the size company we are is amazing," Moraes said.
Howell-based Chem-Trend is a global organization with manufacturing operations in North and South America, Europe and Asia; sales offices in 17 countries; and distributors in more than 50 countries. Its world headquarters is in Howell at 1445 W. McPherson Park Drive. The company's very first plant, at 3205 E. Grand River Ave., opened in 1961 and is still operating today.
Chem-Trend formulates and manufactures chemicals for use in die-casting, rotational molding, general rubber, polyurethane, tires, thermoplastics and composites for other manufacturers.
To celebrate the milestone, Chem-Trend employees were recently treated to a barbecue on the grounds of the company's headquarters.
Moraes, who started out in sales with Chem-Trend in 1989 and worked his way through several areas of the company before being named president and CEO in January 2009, said having forward-thinking strategies and an established business model have played a huge role in his company's prosperity. He said focusing on making the company known worldwide has led to its success, as well.
"We've been able to stick to our vision and mission through a number of different stages and experience growth," Moraes said. "And that has enabled us to establish manufacturing plants on nearly all the world's continents."
At the core of Chem-Trend's business are industry-standard mold-release agents, die lubricants, tire paints and purging compounds engineered to maximize productivity while delivering high-quality finished parts.
Chem-Trend during its history has provided numerous products for the auto industry, according to Moraes. But the company's chemicals are used to make a number of other products, including plastic bottles, tires, shoe soles, automotive seat cushions, boat hulls and wind-turbine blades.
In the 1950s, Chem-Trend founder Peer Lorentzen began to experiment with the development of release agents for polyurethane foams, using the kitchen of his Howell home as a lab and production area for four months, according to Moraes.
Lorentzen, who had recently immigrated to the United States from Denmark, had observed the evolution of car-seat cushions in the automotive-component industry, Moraes said, which was moving toward the use of molded polyurethane foam. The lack of specialized products necessitated the use of plain floor wax to separate the molded polyurethane cushions from the mold, an inefficient method that caused high scrap rates and downtime, the current Chem-Trend president and CEO added.
However, Moraes added, Lorentzen's observations led to the development of new release agents that made polyurethane foam molding easier, more reliable and more cost-efficient than before.
"(Lorentzen) had a vision of establishing a business that would support the fast growth of automakers in the U.S.," Moraes said. "The company started in a modest place and has built a solid reputation."
That reputation spread into the community. As a way of commemorating the company's 50th year in business, employees from the manufacturing company Chem-Trend planted a large community garden this year. The produce will be given to Gleaners Community Food Bank of Livingston County. The "giving garden" is on company property next to the Howell headquarters.
Moraes said Chem-Trend administrators asked staffers how to celebrate the anniversary, adding they brainstormed and came up with the garden, which can be seen through windows in Moraes' office. The garden consists of about 20 different types of vegetables, Moraes said. Chem-Trend employees tend to the garden on their lunch breaks, he added.
"We were shooting for about 1,000 pounds of vegetables to take to Gleaners, but we've already passed that," Moraes said. "We're expecting to have up to 2,000 pounds to box up and take to Gleaners."
Based on the response the garden has received from employees, Moraes said, contributing to Gleaners may become an annual occurrence.
Not many changes will be made within the company over its next 50 years, Moraes said. He said Chem-Trend will maintain its focus over that time and he sees tremendous opportunities for expansion. He also said his company is looking at the possibility of getting into new industry segments, such as "green" energy.
"We're still in the process of selling our approach to more and more countries. We're working on some niche-related release agents," Moraes said, "such as windmill blades and developing new molding. And there is also excellent potential for growth geographically."
Information from: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com