After a record year of demand, the coronavirus pandemic forced Inhance Technologies to critically look at everything it "normally" did.
Houston-based Inhance is a global provider of fluorination barrier and surface technologies for industries such as health care, consumer products and transportation.
"I believe the pandemic and resulting actions required to operate safely and continuously challenged us to look at what was mission critical in our processes and what was not. … We created new processes, obsoleted some processes and created workarounds with creativity and resolve," said Andrew Thompson, CEO of Inhance.
Thompson said the company is a stronger, closer-knit organization as a result.
"I am so proud of our people, globally, who worked through the pandemic — maintaining operations at 100 percent of our sites, globally," he said. "Their resilience and dedication to our customers and critical supply chain partners was truly inspiring. I am very grateful for our employees."
The company moved its St. Louis operations to a nearby larger facility — 75,000 square feet — in March, doubling production capacity and increasing staff to 40 employees.
Inhance moved its Houston headquarters to a new facility in 2020, opening a science and technology center with increased testing and analytical capabilities. Inhance also has locations in Australia, Brazil, Germany and Mexico.
"Inhance Technologies challenges the status quo by rethinking how markets can increase the sustainability of their offerings by rethinking composition, form and role of their own products," Thompson said. "We help companies make incremental or major leaps in their products' sustainability — all of which are important on the journey to a fully sustainable future."
Thompson has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware and a doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. His first position in the plastics industry as a research scientist for Arco Chemical Co., a producer of propylene oxide and supplier of styrene monomer purchased by Lyondell Petrochemical Co. in 1998 and sold to BP America in 2000.
He became CEO of Inhance in 2012 after partnering with the company's original founders "to build a long-term management team," according to the website of Aurora Capital Partners, which purchased Inhance from Arsenal Capital Partners in 2018. "[Thompson] has been instrumental in advancing the company's proprietary fluorine-based technology."
Thompson said his first major goal as CEO was "to focus the organization to think more strategically regarding sustainable offerings and geographic expansion."
"One of my first managers taught me to challenge the status quo, whether that was technological, operational or commercial principles," Thompson said. "He always said he loved to hear 'because we've always done it that way' as a clear indication it was time to seek disruptive change to evolve, learn and grow."
Thompson is involved with the American Chemistry Council, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Association of Plastic Recyclers and Plastics Recyclers Europe.
He was nominated by Prakash Iyer, senior vice president of research and development at Inhance.
Thompson said he hopes his legacy as CEO is that "we transformed a small, local business to be a globally adopted leader in sustainable plastic technologies, helping enable a circular plastic economy."
Looking ahead to 2022, Thompson said Inhance is expected to continue its growth of the business "around the world as pressure for more recyclable plastics mounts and regulations tighten — requiring new technologies to reduce emissions, increase sustainability and drive to a more circular economy."