Five minutes at Informex
with Wolfgang Hillisch, CEO of ESIM Fine Chemicals
PH: ESIM Chemicals is a fairly new name. Who are you?
Hillisch: ESIM Chemicals is based at Linz in Austria and represents the non-GMP, non-pharma business formerly of DSM there; the GMP pharma side is now part of Patheon. We are owned by Ardian Investments. They acquired us because we had a great opportunity in terms of growth. ESIM comprises two businesses – the name stands for ‘Exclusive Synthesis’, mainly in crop protection but also in flavours and fragrances, cosmetics, food and beverage, and ‘Intermediate Manufacturing’, which refers mainly to derivates of maleic anhydride, which we are the world market leader in.
PH: And how is business this year?
Hillisch: We are seeing great business in both areas. The market is good and I think also our value proposition to customers is superb. We have been very proactive in improving our service to customers. What is really new on our side is that we are leveraging both sides of the business. At first glance, you might think that they have nothing in common but actually they do. On one side, we are selling product, formerly with very little customer relationship, while on the other side we are a custom manufacturer: highly innovative, highly R&D-driven but with only a small number of customers. We have now been trying, very successfully, to do more innovation work with our intermediates customer base and supporting their innovation with our capabilities in new product development. This is a growing business and to a very large extent is driving our growth.
PH: In which industries?
Hillisch: Crop protection is our biggest industry and innovation is very important here. You have to be able to support customers with new ideas and new technologies. Last year, we won an award at Syngenta’s supplier event as their most innovative supplier for work on one large blockbuster fungicide they have brought to market. They have allowed us to market this, which helps us to prove that we are innovative. We have doubled the number of innovation managers to four, who are dedicated to innovation by leveraging our technologies to develop new products with customers. More generally, we are putting a lot of effort into brand awareness and making the name known because we are a company that has been there for 70 years but the name is two years old. That includes coming to Informex and this is our first Informex as ESIM Chemicals.
PH: How is it going for you here?
Hillisch: Good. We do not have a dedicated US sales team, we do all of our US marketing from Linz. We have a booth here to connect with our US customer base. We have inherited customers in both business areas. Here we are seeing existing customers and setting up meetings to support our growth initiative. We made a lot of appointments but the show is also worthwhile for booth interactions with customers; that can lead to something very interesting happening, or it might lead to discussions where you eventually find out there is no business but that is part of such a show. Every new lead, every new interaction shows the ESIM brand and a lot of people are asking who we are and what we do.