Custom Chemicals International (CCI) is revered by Bob Soden, its Sales Director, as a family-oriented environment that’s at the forefront of new ideas and innovation. And rightly so, as since Soden himself was a founder of the company in 1985, it’s had satisfied staff on board for decades, and has consistently offered something to the market that many were not; always keeping its products a step ahead of the game.
From its origins of a little warehouse down in Albion, Queensland, it grew and grew and moved location a few times to its current home of Narangba, also in Queensland. It built a factory there and has grown roots there ever since.
So how does it do its business? “When we started, we looked at the market and saw that there were actually quite a few people in the industrial cleaning product domain. This is when we decided to come up with something a bit novel for its time.”
CCI embarked on the process of offering other companies the chance to put their own labels on its products. “This novel idea definitely worked, of course it worked, otherwise we wouldn’t be here today. To this day we still do customer labelling.” As a supplier to the wholesale distribution market, it has no direct dealings with the public, and with a business model that has worked for all these years, it doesn’t plan on ever doing so.
It mostly contracts ‘one man band’ representatives throughout the country, or the ‘little fellas’ as Soden affectionately refers to them, to distribute its products. With a huge network of these distributors, business continues to thrive.
For a company so invested in the dealings of chemicals, CCI has an unusually close relationship with nature and is unashamedly forward about its love for the environment. Soden exudes passion as he talks of CCI’s development of environmentally friendly products.
“We’ve come up with quite a few innovations in the market in terms of environmentally friendly products. Once cleaning product for example, uses a mixture of lemongrass oil and thyme oil, which might be dearer in cost, but so much better for the environment and for the people using it.”
Another such product example is some of their products which use oil derived from coconuts instead of petroleum.
“The environment is big thing for a lot of businesses, so they’re happy when they find these kinds of products with us.”
A global eye on innovation
The company is constantly looking to the rest of the world to make sure it stays on top of the innovation game. Soden confirms that it is in Germany where CCI gets a lot of its standout innovation, such as a window cleaner that fascinatingly uses nanotechnology.
“A lot of chemical tech is coming out of Europe. We’ve got some here, and by adding a few bits and pieces, we’ve adapted them into some really great products.”
Another way of making sure it keeps up with the latest findings, need and initiatives, is through the close network the firm keeps with its representatives. They are always reporting back on what’s new, what the market is looking for and what they’ve seen being pioneered. Then, through a thoroughly careful process of amending and testing, CCI brings to life something unique and really special.
Something in particular that Soden tells us CCI are working on is a range of products focusing on probiotics, an field it very much believes is the future of retail chemical based products. He’s talking about all sorts of distinctive products like leave-on mopping solutions and disinfectants that are entirely green-friendly.
“Only another couple of countries in the world are doing it,” he exclaims about probiotics.
A world of change
Soden talks of years of having to ride the waves of governmental change and regulation with the most recent being activated on 1 January of this year. To be specific, there was a big, worldwide change requiring the harmonising of global labelling. Namely, the UN Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals, which has had a profound effect on safety and compliance initiatives around the globe, including those of CCI. The costs have been vast, but it’s not something CCI can’t handle.
“We started preparing for this in 2015, because we knew it was coming and we knew we had to be ready for it. We’ve been having to deal with these kinds of things for years. We have costly waste water licenses with councils and we deal with the requirement of the environmental protection agency. When we started out, the EPA didn’t exist at all.”
The CCI is firm in its compliance and safety measures, and know that the way forward means abiding by these measures and keeping their clients in the know as to what is going on and what needs to be worked on.
The future is probiotic
As our interview draws to a close, Soden is keen to once again highlight how much he believes in probiotics for not only his business, but for the future of chemical innovation at large. Much of the firm’s capital investment has gone into the creation of these probiotic products, and they’ve been using and creating many environmentally friendly including soluble plastics and soluble toiletries for the portable toilet market. These may seem like small things but could change the whole reality of how things are done.
“You’ve got to add something different in order to make some money out of it,” Soden exclaims. “That’s the name of the game.”
The main direction of business for CCI at the moment is clearly innovation. Soden wants innovation in probiotic products to eventually kill bugs in hospitals that antibiotics cannot, and for it to be used even in the place of disinfectants and chlorines – and alas, all this from something commonly drunk to improve stomach digestion. With the firm’s distributors looking more and more to snap these products up, CCI’s direction is certainly looking to be the future of chemical advance.