by Joan Tupponce
Winston Samuels, the president and CEO of Maxx Performance, considers the company’s new research and manufacturing plant in Roanoke to be “the perfect facility.”
“It’s logistics, logistics, logistics,” he says. “It affords us the capability to access our customer base and also raw ingredients [via nearby] interstates. It also has the potential for expansion.”
The facility, which officially opened in July, also represents a first step in a homecoming for the Virginia Tech graduate. Samuels hopes to move the company’s headquarters from Chester, N.Y., within a year.
Maxx Performance manufactures encapsulation technologies used by manufacturers of baked products, confectionary goods, dairy or meat products, nutritional supplements and animal feed. One of its products, for example, is a thin vegetable film coating for sodium bicarbonate that delays leavening for better texture and longer shelf life of baked items.
The company’s products mask taste and off-odors, extend shelf life and enhance flavor and texture. Even though bitter tastes such as caffeine, green tea extract or certain vitamins and minerals can provide healthful benefits, they can affect the taste of certain foods. Maxx uses a technology to mask the bitter taste of green tea extract so that it can be used in baking as well as a technology to stabilize probiotics and also enzymes used in chicken feed.
Currently, the company has five employees in the Roanoke facility. Samuels hopes to add 10 more employees within the next two years.
Samuels chose Roanoke in part because he wanted to give back to the region “some of what was given to us while we were students at Virginia Tech.”
Samuels’ wife, Marilyn, is also a Virginia Tech graduate as is his son Courtney who graduated from Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. His son Joel is enrolled in the school’s agricultural and life sciences program and is a member of Tech’s ice hockey team.
“It was like coming home for us,” Samuels says of opening the Roanoke facility. “We are Hokies. We want to have that bond between our research and development side and what Virginia Tech is doing.”
Samuels now has work-study students and employees from his alma mater working in his company. “My intent is to accelerate the work-study program and also our employee pool from Tech,” he says. “They fit right in.”