Insights from industry

Understanding the Challenges of Selling Custom-Manufactured Fine Chemicals

In this interview, Chris Landmesser, Business Director from Evonik Jayhawk Fine Chemicals talks to AZoM about the challenges of selling custom-manufactured fine chemicals.

What do you see as the greatest challenge to selling custom-manufactured fine chemicals?

JAYHAWK has broad technology capabilities, a unique product portfolio and the expertise to tie all of this together. It is an appealing platform. The biggest challenge is identifying the specific needs of prospects along with their actual decision makers.

Once these are determined, we can make a very compelling argument for most projects.

The applications for JAYHAWK’s products and services are quite broad – agrochemicals, pharma, electronics, composites, infrastructure – what is your approach to selling and supporting so many different types of customers?

JAYHAWK works in many markets. The interesting thing is that our chemistries crossover frequently, for example with pharma and agro. The same can be said for composites, powder coatings, etc.

The key is knowing your technologies inside and out, and then having the capability to take a project from lab scale all the way through to full production.

What differentiates JAYHAWK as a fine chemical custom manufacturer?

The standard answer would be our core competencies, multi-purpose plants, reactor capacities, packaging options, logistics, and analytical capabilities.

However, the real reason is the people. JAYHAWK has a highly skilled and highly educated workforce and a unique blend of young and seasoned professionals.

How have China’s recent regulatory restrictions on fine chemical manufacturing impacted your customers?

The China story is an intriguing one. One minute material is available and then the next minute it isn’t. For years, suppliers have had free reign here in the US, offering lower pricing for varying degrees of quality.

Many companies would use these products, or at least, use the threat of offshore materials to drive down pricing. Well now, customers are seeing the value of local and secure sourcing of raw materials.

Additionally, we’ve also observed that American companies, having left the US to set up offshore production, are coming back because of low energy costs and new tax incentives.

What is the importance of being a strategic partner to your customers?

Several years ago, I was working with a strategic partner that refused to let me in the door on a new project! I was extremely surprised by this, considering we were spending 5 times more with this company compared to what they were spending with us.

I have also had the opposite experience, in which we were partnering with a company that shared similar values, cultures, stances on safety and the environment. This seemed like a perfect fit and it was, because we continue to work together today.

How important is custom manufacturing to a client’s product development pipeline?

It can be extremely important! If you can prove yourself at the beginning of the sales process to be a valued asset to the customer, oftentimes the door may be opened to upstream or downstream steps in the same project or to completely new ones.

It can be a great benefit to both sides and the cornerstone to a successful long-term partnership.

What’s your impression of the customer transitioning to a younger demographic?

Historically the chemical industry moved at a slower pace than others. For quite a while we could not attract young talent because there were few job opportunities.

This was in large part due to the industry moving offshore. This has changed over the last few years. The industry has come back to the US and opened the door to the next generation of engineers, chemists, etc. with a passion for the chemicals business.

Personally, I think this is great, and I’m enjoying the transition. It offers a new energy and a new perspective. This being said, it is very important to respect our more experienced personnel. They too have a vital role to fill as mentors and leaders. A blend of both is ideal for a growing company.

How relevant is online content and social selling to your prospective customers?

With today’s generation, it is imperative to be online and active in social media. It is often the basis for connecting with anyone. It is where all industry is headed and custom-manufactured fine chemicals are no different.

How have the culture of customer meetings changed over the years?

Today’s environment is more relaxed and free-flowing. Less formal attire, less sticking to a meeting agenda, more open to communication, and faster paced from project inception to competition. People are more open to listening unique ideas.

Where can our readers go to find more?

To find out more what it is to be part of the JAYHAWK team please visit http://jayhawk.evonik.com

About Chris Landmesser

Chris has been with the Evonik Group for 25 years and has worked with Evonik Jayhawk Fine Chemicals for the past 5 years. He graduated from Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA, with a degree in Chemistry.

Chris Landmesser

Chris is currently a Business Director handling the made-to-order product line in the Americas, promoting and selling solutions for electronics, composites, infrastructure and chemical synthesis.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

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