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Innovation Drives Double Digit Growth Rate for Schoolcraft Company

chem link 2
John Thomas, president and CEO of Chem Link.

By Sue Moore

Chem Link, a manufacturing company headquartered in Schoolcraft, has experienced a sustained, robust growth rate for several years running, even during challenging economic times. According to John Thomas, president and CEO, the company is achieving success through sustained innovation, developing environmentally friendly adhesives and sealants for construction and manufacturing industries throughout North America.

Chem Link proudly states that it is an idea company. Since its beginning in 1990, founder Phil Georgeau has applied his skills as a polymer chemistry innovator to develop unique products, ensuring high performance in the field while meeting the strictest environmental standards. Chem Link products are virtually free of solvents that can contaminate both indoor and outdoor environments.

In 2006, Chem Link moved its operations from downtown Kalamazoo into a vacated facility on Lyons Street in Schoolcraft, Michigan. Today, the 85-employee company is running three shifts five days a week, and recently expanded its R&D laboratories to a second location on Duncan Street in Schoolcraft, where it has just purchased the abandoned Quality Films building.

The company is investing substantial capital to expand its capabilities, according to Thomas, who has been leading Chem Link since 2012.   While increased manufacturing and R&D facilities are part of the growth story, Thomas emphasizes that the Chem Link culture is at the heart of the company’s success. “Our investment is in our people who we train in what we call our ‘learning center.’ In addition, we hold regular town hall meetings for each shift, and also conduct frequent smaller, brown bag lunch meetings to make sure we share ideas and understand our daily responsibilities. We emphasize innovation at every level of the company.”

The emphasis on good people and clear communication has paid off: Last year, Chem Link was certified as a Tier II supplier to the automotive industry and achieved ISO certification in 2012.

Chem Link operates three strategic business units: One on marketing Chem Link brand products through commercial distribution channels; another on the private label market; and the third on “Engineered Systems,” which markets multi-component products directly to the manufacturing industry. Chem Link’s markets are numerous and diverse: its adhesives and sealants are used in waterproofing and sealing concrete, installing roofing, sealing pool and spa installations, stabilizing solar and lightning protection equipment, and even in marine applications. The industrial markets involve specialized sealing systems for clean rooms, sound damping systems, and adhesives used for product assembly in the transportation industry. Regardless of the market, the Chem Link approach is the same: “We are always on the lookout for new polymers and we find creative ways to formulate them to fit the end-user’s need. We are a very forward-looking company: our new logo bears two words which say it best: “Polymer Innovation.”

The new logo, developed in 2013, was part of a re-branding campaign led by marketing consultant, Mike Keller. The new logo and related graphics were used to revitalize literature, advertising, packaging, displays, Web site copy, and other marketing components. “Phil Georgeau has always been an innovator,” said Keller. “He emphasizes that we are, above all, an idea company. The re-branding campaign was designed to bring that brand promise into sharp focus.”

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