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REGIONAL VIEW ROANOKE/NEW RIVER valley


QualiChem cited for its growth, staying power by Tim Thornton


ualiChem began business in 1989 as a blender of industrial


cleaning and water treatment products, with eight employ- ees serving customers in Vir- ginia and the Carolinas. Today, the company


employs 77 people — 52 at its Salem headquarters. The company’s offices in Europe and China market its water treatment chemicals and met- alworking fluids to custom- ers — including Boeing and Pratt & Whitney — around the globe.


In October, the Roanoke


Regional Chamber of Com- merce named QualiChem its Small Business of the Year. Companies in the running for the award are required to have a record of increased sales, employee growth, stay- ing power, innovation and contributions to the commu- nity. QualiChem appears to have all the bases covered. The privately-held com-


pany says its revenue grew more than 60 percent during the past five years.


FOR THE RECORD


Celanese plans to lay off 27 workers at its Giles County plant because of waning demand for the plant’s primary product, acetate tow, a material used in cigarette filters. After the layoffs, the plant will still employ more than 600 workers in Narrows. (The Roanoke Times)


Franklin County Distilleries plans to open a tasting room in Boones Mill where it already has a small production facility. The company makes White Label Corn Whiskey but plans to add more products to meet demand. (The Roanoke Times)


Roanoke-based Hollins University has received a record-setting gift from the


Glenn Frank and Dennis Butts celebrate QualiChem’s wins at the


Roanoke Regional Chamber’s Small Business Awards.


offering internships to some and full-time employment to others.


Joyce Waugh, pres- ident of the Roanoke Regional Chamber, says QualiChem stood out among the winners in 11 small-business catego- ries. QualiChem won the manufacturing category to earn its shot at the overall Small Business of


the Year award. “The Small Business


“We have sustained


a steady year-on-year rate of growth over the past 15 years, and we expect the steep growth curve to continue for the foreseeable future,” Quali- Chem President Glenn Frank said in a statement. “Our growth is driven by our man- agement team’s focus on new product development, cus- tomer service and support for our distribution partners. “We make a substantial


investment in R&D to keep on the cutting edge of tech- nology in our core businesses and have a program of con-


charitable trust of an alumna that will be used to strengthen the university’s unrestricted endowment. The JSM Charitable Trust has pledged $20 million to the endowment fund. The commitment — arranged by Hollins graduate Elizabeth Hall McDonnell and her husband, James McDonnell III — marks the single largest gift received in the campus’s 175-year history. (The Roanoke Times)


The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, Virginia Western Community College and the City of Roanoke are creating RAMP – the Regional Acceleration and Mentorship program. RAMP will be located in downtown Roanoke and will house up to five technology


16 JANUARY 2017


tinuous improvement in qual- ity, delivery times and product consistency.”


The company also made


a sizable investment three years ago, expanding its Salem headquarters, labora- tory and manufacturing cen- ter by 70 percent and adding a 45-seat training and confer- ence center.


In addition to develop-


ing its markets and working to stay at the forefront of its industry, QualiChem works with high school and uni- versity students interested in chemistry or manufacturing,


companies that will receive programming and mentorship in hopes of helping them to achieve greater success in a shorter timeframe. The first class of RAMP startup companies is expected to start in mid-2017. (News release)


In November Roanoke Gas celebrated the completion of a 25-year, $100 million project that replaced about 200 miles of aging natural gas pipelines in the company’s regional distribution network. Some of the buried cast iron pipe that crews replaced dated back to the late 19th century. The Roanoke Gas distribution system includes about 1,100 miles of pipe and serves about 60,000 customers in a service area that includes the cities of


Awards selection commit- tee was impressed by Quali- Chem’s story of finding their niche markets and going from a small operation with mostly local sales to one of the fastest-growing cutting and grinding fluids manufacturers in the world,” Waugh says. “They had a good history


of growth as well as revenue,” she says, but that’s not enough. “You’re looking at sustainabil- ity. It’s the ones that have been around and weathered the recession and the things that come and go that really make the difference.”


Roanoke and Salem, the town of Vinton, Roanoke County and portions of Botetourt, Franklin and Montgomery counties. (The Roanoke Times)


PEOPLE


Montgomery County Supervisor Mary W. Biggs has been elected president of the Virginia Association of Counties. She succeeds Surry County Supervisor Judy S. Lyttle. (VirginiaBusiness.com)


Kevin Crofton has donated $15 million to Virginia Tech. Crofton, a Fincastle native, is president of SPTS Technologies and corporate vice president at Israel-based Orbotech. (The Roanoke Times)


Marc Edwards, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, was named an American Ingenuity Award win- ner by Smithsonian magazine. (The Roanoke Times)


Roanoke-based Virginia Amateur Sports has named Dan Foutz to succeed Pete Lampman as president of the organization. Foutz has experience in the corporate sector plus more than 27 years in sports. (WSET.com)


Carol Gilbert, associate profes- sor of surgery at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medi- cine, won the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medi- cine Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges. (The Roanoke Times)


Photo courtesy Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce


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