Tenant Surfachem has had a lab on Innovation Avenue at the 3M BIC since 2014. The company has recently invested in a larger technical laboratory space at the 3M BIC as it continues to expand its operations in 2021. The new lab space will be 53% bigger than previous and include dedicated office space.
Surfachem, part of the 2M Group of Companies, is a leading international speciality chemical distributor, offering an extensive ingredient portfolio, technical expertise, and global capabilities. Working with industry-leading manufacturers, Surfachem acts as a synergistic link between its suppliers and customers to deliver chemistry for a better life. The company provides a flexible customer-oriented approach and deliver sustainable solutions to customers in over 90 countries, with a dedicated team of experts in Benelux, Brazil, France Germany, Nordics, Poland and the UK & Ireland.
The new lab space at the 3M BIC will enable its full-time team of eight to continue identifying market trends and using this to provide the latest insight to support its global customer base. The need for a bigger lab space stems from the growth in team members over the last few years, with many ‘year in industry’ placements gaining experience and choosing to stay post university studies. A growing team, coupled with an increase in projects, has led to the requirement to expand its facilities
2020 was a busy year for Surfachem. The pandemic impacted its three core markets: Personal Care, Home, Institutional and Industrial Care and Pharmaceuticals. This was due to the increase in demand for disinfectants and sanitisation products, such as hand gels and surface cleansers.
During the pandemic when it became impossible to buy it on the high street, the company switched its production to produce hand sanitiser for local organisations. Going from idea to manufacture in 10 days, the whole 2M Group of Companies contributed, bringing together parts of the business that had never collaborated before. Due to the demand, production was moved from the 3M BIC lab to MP Storage and Blending, 2M’s six-acre site in Middlesbrough. The 3M BIC lab was then used to fill/label and pack the donated bottles.
The biggest challenge of producing hand sanitiser was access to raw materials. Demand was so high that even the government was asking gin distilleries to sell alcohol to companies like Surfachem to support manufacture. Surfachem donated over 3,200 bottles of hand sanitiser since it started production, most of which was supplied to frontline services including nurses in Covid-19 Wards, ambulance drivers, hospices, care homes, pharmacists, and Royal Mail staff.
Lisa Cripps, Formulation & Technical Development Manager at Surfachem, based at the 3M BIC, said: “The operational transformation during the pandemic has enhanced Surfachem’s capabilities, enabling us to manufacture whatever is required to support people in their everyday lives. Ethics and community are important to the wider 2M Group and we follow the ethos, ‘Delivering chemistry for a better life’. We certainly demonstrated that with the hand sanitiser project. Moving into bigger offices at the 3M BIC has come at the right time. We are currently operating in a 65.74m², whereas the new space will be over 100.m². This increased space will allow us to take on more projects, whilst giving us scope to recruit new staff to support our ethos”.