MÖNCHENGLADBACH, Germany – On a sunny day in west Germany, Solenis officially welcomed its newest research and development facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Witnessed by a cheerful audience of C-suite executives, employees and local government officials, Solenis CEO John Panichella and Chief Sustainability Officer Lotta Kanto Öqvist did the honors in officially christening the $5 million investment from the global manufacturer of specialty chemicals that help produce products like paper towels, toilet tissue, food containers and other items.
“My message is pretty simple, and it’s really to thank the people who work here,” Panichella said on the first floor. “The technicians, the scientists, you are so critical to the growth we’re trying to create in this company because our customers need you. They need your minds to help us create new solutions, and create new chemistries so really this laboratory hopefully gives you a great place to work so you can come up with great ideas to help our customers.”
Located about 20 miles from downtown Düsseldorf, the new facility will help drive more sustainable solutions for water-intensive industries and consumer paper-packaging. The labs are equipped with state-of-the-art, instrument-based capabilities for water analysis, microbiology, wastewater treatment, compound analysis, deposit identification, product determination and more. Scientists and R&D teams can also conduct problem-solving sessions with customers visiting the facility.
The facility also supports Solenis’ company-wide sustainability initiatives as laid out by UN Sustainable Development Goals, which include clean water and sanitation and responsible consumption and production.
Solenis will also accelerate its investment in R&D in 2024 with the $40 million expansion and relocation of its center near global headquarters in the Philadelphia area. Mönchengladbach and the new U.S. location join fairly new facilities in China and Brazil.
“There is a strong focus on R&D and customer support at Solenis,” Öqvist said. “This goes hand in hand with what we have done all around the world. We have very good facilities in Shanghai and in Paulinia (Brazil). Next year we’re focusing on moving the whole research center in Wilmington (Del.) to new facilities. You can see the importance of future programs and support for our customers. We are a preferred partner for our customers and we invest in developments for a future, more sustainable world and products together with them.”
Solenis, which was acquired by Platinum Equity for $5.25 billion in 2021, simply outgrew its facility in a neighboring city. Workers and scientists were scattered throughout different buildings and the need for a building to house more than 40 employees to improve collaboration and communication was sought.
With the assistance of the local government, a location was discovered in Mönchengladbach, a city of 260,000 located directly west of Düsseldorf. Solenis is a global company with more than 6,500 employees and is active in 130 countries across six continents.
“The German economy is very based on small and medium enterprises so Solenis is a big player,” Mönchengladbach mayor Felix Heinrichs said. “We are here in the region of structural change. We have the coal phase out and we try to add new industries, a new way of energy solutions. Solenis is a partner for structural change and for new development right here in Monchengladbach.”
The building is four stories, 33,370 square feet and took approximately a year to build. It’s an expansive facility that houses scientific experts in chemical engineering and biological engineering. There is room to add another 15 employees.
“It’s really a commitment from Solenis, and we see this as a big investment into technology,” said senior group leader Christian Flocken, who oversees the facility.
“This is an experience that we are very proud of. We really are proud of working for Solenis.”