The next time nature calls, you may want to thank ChemPro Inc. for helping to keep your backside ultra-soft. The electrostatic softening agent used to keep toilet tissue and other paper products pliable is just one of the specialty concoctions this small chemical company is cooking up in their laboratory.
Inside the 23,000 square-foot Point-Claire manufacturing facility, ChemPro’s team of scientists creates formulas for commercial and industrial products such as adhesives, agri-chemicals, cleaning materials, softeners, and lubricants for a wide range of industry sectors around the globe.
Along with the tissue, pulp and paper industries, ChemPro’s diverse client list includes the Water Technology Centre, an applied research centre located in Montreal where they are working to develop a formula for reverse osmosis systems. The company also manufactures products for the gas and pipeline industry, like an odour neutralizing formula that destroys molecules in a chemical compound called Mercaptan, a harmless but pungent-smelling gas used widely to make it easier to detect natural gas leaks. ChemPro can even scale its manufacturing processes to produce single-purpose chemical products such as a degreasing agent it created exclusively for a specific machine used by the automotive industry.
Formula for success
Creating specialized solutions for niche markets like these is ChemPro’s formula for success, says Alex Moussa, Vice-President, Business Development.
With fewer than 10 employees, and no sales rep on staff, the company relies mainly on word-of-mouth to generate sales in the range of $1 million a year.
“Clients call on us from referrals,” says Moussa. “Our facilities can produce, mix and blend or even repackage any specialty product a company needs. What we do is R&D work. That’s our strength.”
Operating since 1997, ChemPro exports its specialty products and services across North and South America and into Western and Eastern European countries. More recently, the company has been tapping into new markets such as Lebanon, South-East Asia and Africa. This year, ChemPro expects to increase its sales outside Canada by 100 per cent, says Moussa.
But thriving in competitive foreign markets can present challenges for a small business. Accustomed to asking domestic customers to pay upfront, ChempPro needed a way to establish credit so it could compete for contracts outside of Canada on net 30- or net 60-day terms without risk of non-payment.
Business on the go
That’s when it turned to Export Development Canada’s (EDC) credit insurance solutions.
“For a small company to compete on the world stage, we needed to ensure we were able to collect our revenues from international sales,” says Moussa. “To increase our sales outside Canada and decrease the risks associated with exporting, we approached EDC for credit insurance coverage which allowed us to start talking to distributors in markets like Africa. It opened up a lot of new doors.”
In 2014, when EDC launched Trade Protect, a new online-only select cover credit insurance product, ChemPro was one of the first businesses in Canada to take advantage of the self-serve, pay-as-you-go portal. Trade Protect is designed specifically for small businesses, covering sales to foreign buyers up to a value of $350,000. The online process typically takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish.
“When you’re on the move, it’s nice to have the option to choose when and where you do business,” says Moussa. “Getting coverage online with Trade Protect for our Mexican client was easy. This process was very simple to complete and saved us a lot of time.”
For more information about EDC’s credit insurance solutions, including Trade Protect, visit EDC.ca.