"If you provide your customers with innovative materials that offer better performance, lower costs, and enable them to develop new materials and markets, you will grow regardless of stagnation in the market."
How does First Quality Chemicals serve the Mexican chemical market?
First Quality Chemicals is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year as a leading specialty chemicals distributor. We are a Mexican company that imports materials from Asia, Europe and the US. Regarding infrastructure, we have two warehouses in the Mexico City area and another in Monterrey, and we use these as bases to supply the national chemical industry. 95% of our market is in Mexico, and we also export to Central America, Brazil, and sometimes to the US. Our main markets are paints, coatings, adhesives, resins, plastics, polyurethane, and personal care products.
Can you describe the culture at First Quality Chemicals?
In 2019, we won first place in Mexico as a Great Place to Work out of companies with between 50 and 100 employees. First Quality Chemicals focuses on creating leaders out of our team members. We provide significant training and workforce development, with weekly training sessions. These sessions are not only on the technical side of our employees’ jobs but also cover topics such as leadership, strategy, marketing, innovation, creativity, sales, positive psychology, personal development and emotional intelligence. Recognition is essential in creating this positive workplace environment, and we incorporate acknowledgment and praise into our daily operations as motivation of our team is extremely important. We aim to empower our people to become decision-makers.
How has First Quality Chemicals performed in 2022, and what do you expect for 2023?
Our revenue for 2022 will be close to US$45 million. In terms of the distribution of specialty chemicals, that is a substantial figure as these are additives, not commodities. We are one of the largest distributors of specialty chemicals in Mexico, with principals including Evonik, Lanxess, Covestro, Songwon, AkzoNobel, Shamrock Technologies, Sukano, Borregaard, Kum Yang and other major players. In 2021 our revenues grew by 33%, and we expect 15% growth in 2022.
There is a recession predicted for 2023, which we expect to impact Mexico. However, if you provide your customers with innovative materials that offer better performance, lower their costs, and enable them to develop new materials and enter new markets, you will grow regardless of stagnation in the market.
Have supply chain disruptions been an area of opportunity for you?
The supply chain disruptions we experienced, particularly in 2021 and at the beginning of 2022, have abated. Demand in Mexico and the US has mildly decreased, and many companies have large stockpiles. The manufacturing companies have been able to catch up, and now previously scarce materials are available, and competition is returning to normal, pre-pandemic levels.
2022 was a period of opportunity for us. We are very flexible and fast and can adapt and ensure we have the right stock for our customers. Often, when clients needed help to obtain materials from their usual sources, we could step in and provide them.
How are you approaching your strategy for next year?
Our workforce will grow next year, as it has every year as our operations have grown in complexity. We ensure that we maintain a strategic approach to growth at all levels of the company. We have what we call “zoom in – zoom out” meetings. At First Quality Chemicals, everybody is very busy with their daily responsibilities, and we do not want our vision to shrink to the immediate future. Once a week, we “zoom out” and have a company meeting where we take a 30,000-foot view of the company. We analyze what we need to start doing to innovate, change, disrupt and move the company forward. We strive to excel and be the best in the industry, and we are proud that our customers highly recommend us. One of the key strategies we have is our applications lab, where we help our customers develop custom formulations to solve their problems, improve their performance, and develop new materials; on the other hand, at First Quality Chemicals we only hire the best talent and this ensures that we will continue being the best specialty chemicals distributor in Mexico.