Industries

QualiChem cited for its growth, staying power

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Print this page by Tim Thornton
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Glenn Frank and Dennis Butts celebrate QualiChem’s wins at the Roanoke Regional Chamber’s Small Business Awards.

QualiChem began business in 1989 as a blender of industrial cleaning and water treatment products, with eight employees serving customers in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Today, the company employs 77 people — 52 at its Salem headquarters. The company’s offices in Europe and China market its water treatment chemicals and metalworking fluids to customers — including Boeing and Pratt & Whitney — around the globe.

In October, the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce named QualiChem its Small Business of the Year. Companies in the running for the award are required to have a record of increased sales, employee growth, staying power, innovation and contributions to the community. QualiChem appears to have all the bases covered.

The privately-held company says its revenue grew more than 60 percent during the past five years.

“We have sustained a steady year-on-year rate of growth over the past 15 years, and we expect the steep growth curve to continue for the foreseeable future,” QualiChem President Glenn Frank said in a statement. “Our growth is driven by our management team’s focus on new product development, customer service and support for our distribution partners.

“We make a substantial investment in R&D to keep on the cutting edge of technology in our core businesses and have a program of continuous improvement in quality, delivery times and product consistency.”

The company also made a sizable investment three years ago, expanding its Salem headquarters, laboratory and manufacturing center by 70 percent and adding a 45-seat training and conference center.

In addition to developing its markets and working to stay at the forefront of its industry, QualiChem works with high school and university students interested in chemistry or manufacturing, offering internships to some and full-time employment to others.

Joyce Waugh, president of the Roanoke Regional Chamber, says QualiChem stood out among the winners in 11 small-business categories. QualiChem won the manufacturing category to earn its shot at the overall Small Business of the Year award.

“The Small Business Awards selection committee was impressed by QualiChem’s story of finding their niche markets and going from a small operation with mostly local sales to one of the fastest-growing cutting and grinding fluids manufacturers in the world,” Waugh says.

“They had a good history of growth as well as revenue,” she says, but that’s not enough. “You’re looking at sustainability. It’s the ones that have been around and weathered the recession and the things that come and go that really make the difference.”




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