Five minutes at Informex with
Rob Harpum, commercial director of WeylChem US
PH: WeylChem has recently announced an expansion at its site at Elgin, South Carolina. What drove that investment?
Harpum: It’s a new, long-term project we have with a customer with a minimum five-year timeframe. The majority activity at Weylchem US is in custom manufacturing. We are putting a brand new unit on the site, which will be 70+ feet [20 metre] the air. We recently had a ground breaking ceremony on the site and the Governor of South Carolina attended. Traditionally, most of the custom manufacturing and tolling we have done at Elgin has been in the agrochemical sector but over the past two years we have begun to diversify into other market sectors, including the pharma sector. The goal is to reduce our dependence upon the fluctuations of the Ag market. This is a really big step in the continuing journey of our strategy.
PH: Are there any other investments in the US in the pipeline?
Harpum: We will also be investing about $3-4 million in improvements at the site, including refurbishment of equipment and updating of instrumentation.
PH: How is business this year?
Harpum: It’s quite strong. The Ag market continues to be relatively flat and although we see some signs of recovery we don’t foresee a major uptick until 2018. The market is flux due to the Industry consolidations – ChemChina buying Syngenta, Dow and DuPont coming together, Bayer acquiring Monsanto.
Our strategy of diversification is starting to have real impact. We have a clear plan to put a minimum of ten new (and non Ag related) projects/products into the Elgin site this year and we are on track. In addition, the expansion project is planned to be in commercial production by April of next year, which is pretty aggressive but we are confident we are going to make it.
PH: Is pharma any part of the Elgin site?
Harpum: We do not do any GMP and we do not do any API, but we are starting to look at intermediates for non-GMP. Where there are opportunities for intermediates that fit our reaction capabilities, then we are very interested. We are in the process of putting a complete strategy together around the life sciences, not just in the US but globally within the WeylChem group of companies
PH: How has the new show been for you?
Harpum: It’s been very positive, with enough interest that we have already signed up for next year. We have colleagues here from our Miteni site in Italy and from our site in Thann, France. I asked them ‘Do we need to do this again next year?’ and their feedback was ‘Absolutely’. Coming together with the CPhI, moving the date and moving the location has improved the experience for us. I think the changes have really rejuvenated Informex.