Equinox Seeks the Best Opportunities for Growth

Barbara Kieker

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Mark Grimaldi, president of Equinox Chemicals LLC, advises local business leaders to "look outside of the local market for growth." The strategy has worked well for Equinox, which is on pace to double its sales for the third year in a row.

"We sell very little locally or in Georgia.  Our business is really global and the playing field for most businesses is more level globally than it has ever been," Grimaldi said.

Equinox specializes in developing products used in pharmaceuticals, food, flavor, industrial coatings, polymers, alternative fuels and other specialty chemicals.  According to Grimaldi, about 25 percent of company sales are exports.

"Exports will be a growing part of our business.  We're introducing new products overseas especially in Europe," he said.

The European debt crisis and volatility in the euro has created pricing challenges for Equinox.  From the time a product is shipped from the U.S. until it arrives at its destination market in Europe, currency fluctuations can significantly change product prices.

"It's a big issue for us because margins are pretty thin so there's no room for substantial price changes," Grimaldi said.

A Focus on Laundry, Dry Cleaning and Cleaning
One of the biggest challenges Equinox faces according to Grimaldi is "picking the best opportunities for growth and the right partners.  It's a good challenge to have but it does require discipline and knowledge of your markets," he said.

While growth in 2011 and earlier years was organic, growth in 2012 will come from a recent acquisition.  In December, the company acquired Adco Cleaning Products, LLC, a manufacturer of specialty cleaning chemicals and detergents used in dry cleaning, commercial laundry, and janitorial and institutional cleaning applications.  Through the acquisition, Equinox expanded its product portfolio by about 50 percent and gained entry into an attractive market segment.

"It's [laundry, dry cleaning and cleaning chemicals] a market… with companies that have been leaders for 60 to 100 years.  We think there is a big opportunity for innovation," Grimaldi said.

The opportunity is not without challenges.  Among them is merging the operations and cultures of two very different companies.  Equinox is a new organization – young and entrepreneurial.  Adco is a 104 year-old company.

"We recognized that going into the acquisition and we try to be sensitive to it," Grimaldi said.

Doing Business in Albany
When Equinox acquired Adco, which was based in Sedalia, Mo., it relocated manufacturing operations and several senior management positions to Albany.  Grimaldi says the company was "more successful than it expected in getting people to relocate to Albany.

We made it attractive for employees to relocate and the whole relocation process went quite smoothly.  We've always been able to attract and hire talented people for our positions in Albany."

Grimaldi believes Albany is no different than any other city in terms of work force quality and is in fact "very business friendly.  I think the city, county and state provide a lot of support to businesses in the areas of taxes, manufacturing credits, support networks and state programs."  

In return, as businesses become successful, Grimaldi believes they have a responsibility to give back.  Equinox supports a variety community projects in which its employees are active.

"We treat it [community giving] as an investment and try to channel our giving where it can have the biggest impact."

More information on Equinox Chemicals LLC is available at www.eqxchem.com

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.