India: A Dynamic Market with Attractive Growth Rates
- Dr James Keay, Business Director, Specialty Chemicals and
Mark Lewis, Global Sales Director of Vertellus,

Having begun in 1857, Vertellus Specialties Inc, has had a remarkable 160 year long journey. Over a period, the company has established its presence in about 17 locations across US, Europe and Asia and employs over 800 people. Having revenue of USD 570 million, it offers over 500 products. In February this year, the company completed the acquisition of the Sodium Borohydride business of the Dow Chemical Company. Prior to that, it also acquired Pentagon Chemical (Holdings) in UK. Dr James Keay, Business Director, Specialty Chemicals and Mark Lewis, Global Sales Director of Vertellus, speak to CEW about the company’s plans in India

Vertellus was established with Baker Castor Oil in 1857. The company serves various markets including agriculture and nutrition, coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers, industrial specialties, pharmaceuticals, personal and consumer care, plastics and polymers. It is the world’s largest producer of DEET. India offers Vertellus access to a good feed stock mix, be it oil based or natural gas based petrochemicals, renewable resources based materials.

Foray into India
Vertellus has started doing business in India before 1980. Towards the end of 2010, the company invested in a joint venture in the Vapi area and later made it a wholly-owned manufacturing facility. After taking over the plant, the company wished to widen its presence in India and decided to hire a Country Manager. Mark Lewis elaborates, “That helped us get better sense of the market and getting connected with some of the industry players and potential clients.” With further investments, the company set up a commercial office and built a team for executing its growth strategy and improve its position in the country.

Commenting on the challenges faced in the Indian market Jim Keay adds, “I have been coming to India for the last 20 years. Over the past 5-10 years, it (government) has certainly improved the infrastructure. The spending on building roads and basic connectivity for business and consumers has made life easier.” Stronger interface with the customers and shorter turnaround times are critical for the success of any business in the current times and it made sense to be closer to the customers.

Growing Business Verticals
According to Lewis, “life sciences and fine chemicals are the two areas which will witness a humongous growth in the coming years.” Keay adds that agriculture, nutrition and pharmaceuticals are the most attractive avenues in life science. The global trends are shifting towards creation of true value contribution in the food chain. Earth’s population is estimated to reach 9 billion by 2020 which will further create opportunities for sustainable production of food through various applications in life sciences. Vertellus has been following these trends for enhancing the quality of life through wellness.

India’s Role in Global Growth Strategy
Talking about how much of a part India plays in Vertellus’ global growth strategy Lewis states, “The Indian market is growing faster than the more traditional US, Europe or other more mature markets. So, the company is looking to make additional investments where it sees better returns and lot of opportunities.” He reveals further, “After having a commercial team in place, we now have a better appreciation of the market and connectivity with the players.”

Keay affirms, “Having a commercial team in place will help the company unearth which are the right products being sold or the right platforms with which to produce those products which are to be sold in the market. Also, if the market place is large enough it could lead to co-operative ventures, viz, partnerships, joint-ventures and acquisitions.”

Vertellus manufactures in India not just for domestic consumption but majorly for exports. Keay concludes that the country has the best technology coupled with the most economical environment versus other emerged countries. It has a robust and sophisticated supply chain which can offer a real advantage and differentiation point for Vertellus.