18 October 2013 17:18 [Source: ICB]
Nexeo Solutions is differentiating itself by driving innovation at all levels within the business to create a win-win solution for its customers and suppliers
Innovation is the price of survival. That is the view of Eric Witt, senior vice president, global strategy and business development, at Nexeo Solutions, a major chemical distribution company. “Innovation on a macro-level is constantly changing. A few years ago, innovation was just a vague concept that all businesses aspired to do,” he comments. He says the pace of change in the chemical and distribution industries has quickened; new products come to market faster and the rate of demand from customers has increased too. “Distribution is not a sleepy industry any more. It is not enough for us to manage the business as we have done in the last few years,” states Witt.
He believes the companies of the future will be those that discover new and creative ways of solving the problems of their suppliers and customers. Nexeo, he says, will be one of them. The company, which has only been established in its current form for less than three years, has a long heritage from its past as the distribution arm of Ashland. The business became a stand-alone enterprise in April 2011.
Witt says being old and new at the same time brings a unique combination. The “old” brings heritage, track record and experience, as well as relationships that span several decades, while the “new” has enabled the leadership team and its investors to create a vision for the future and a different approach to chemical distribution.
“We created a vision for the business – distribution defined. We wanted to create a new kind of chemical distribution that was fundamentally different to what existed in the past or exists today and you can only do that by driving innovation at product level, service level and at an overall solutions level,” says Witt.
Nexeo is spending tens of millions of dollars every year on developing its technology, laboratory facilities and sales resources. Witt says the company is striving to be a true partner to its customers and suppliers, employing its technical experience, expertise and know-how to make them a success in the market.
A next generation laboratory with formulation and testing capabilities is planned to be built near the company’s corporate headquarters in The Woodlands, Texas, US, which Witt says will add to the services available to suppliers and customers.
The company has also invested heavily in its technical sales team, resulting in the creation of new product formulations. For example, Witt says: “We are about to bring to market an innovative intermediate resin blend with unique properties for use in the coatings industry. Nexeo anticipates that this next generation coatings product will provide customers greater value due to reduced application costs and a longer lifespan than competing coatings products.” The product will undergo preliminary commercial trials later this month, and Nexeo anticipates taking it to market under the trade name NexSeal this November.
At a solutions level, Nexeo has spent much time and energy in the past year looking at oilfield services. Witt explains that companies are trying to find new and innovative means of hydraulic fracturing in a sustainable and cost-effective, yet environmentally friendly manner.
The field camps located at the shale formations are usually remote with no permanent infrastructure and require a broad range of chemicals, proprietary blends and different mixes – all at different points in time where operations run around the clock. These significant, and often unpredictable needs, can only be managed by logistics and distribution companies with material handling expertise, 24/7 services and innovative designs to manage risk, as well as the ability to do so in an environmentally sustainable manner. “The cost of failure or shutdown is massive. Our energy and oil and gas team has spent countless hours with customers to understand their needs at the process and product level to create a next-generation solution that meets their needs,” says Witt.
Witt is passionate about the pace of change and innovation at Nexeo. He says suppliers have responded positively to the investments being made and Nexeo’s ability to recognise the pace of change and provide a new level of transparency and market feedback. “We want suppliers to see Nexeo as an effective steward for their products in the market; our success is a replication of their success.”
He adds the company is very excited about the progress and will continue to push the boundaries. “Being great is not good enough, we have and will continue to challenge ourselves to do more,” stresses Witt.
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