The best ideas don’t always have big outcomes.
In fact, Dr. Vijay Mathur founded his company on a concept that was beyond small — it was nano-sized.
Mathur’s advanced nano-particle products and process technologies have broken into the paper industry and his company, G.R. Silicate Nano-Fibers and Carbonates LLC, is prepping to enter more markets.
“It’s the beginning of a revolution,” said Jay Powers, The Federal Way-based company’s executive vice president of finance and strategy. “Companies, like ours, will be at the forefront.”
GRSNFC holds patents in various countries for the manufacture of synthetic silicate nano-fibers and super-precipitated calcium carbonates. However, Powers said the silicate additive is the company’s specialty.
GRSNFC claims the additives can do many things — such as make concrete that weighs half as much; plastics that are more durable; building panels that are stiffer, lighter and mildew resistant; and paper that is lighter, brighter, stronger and cheaper.
And while others have tried to replicate the process, Powers said it is complicated and would be difficult to steal.
“We have to be careful, but we have know-how,” he said. “Even if they violate the patent, they would have a difficult time replicating the process.”
To create its additives, GRSNFC needs to import materials from overseas. It eventually wants to export its additives into foreign markets.
But how does a local manufacturer compete against those that are overseas? Mathur said it comes down to technology.
“The way we can produce it cheaper is we have new processes,” he said. “It’s the technology leverage that is making us produce products competitively worldwide — better, faster, cheaper.”
Mathur founded the company that is now GRSNFC in 1997.
“It wasn’t overnight,” he said. “It took us 10 years to perfect.”
The technology was being used in paper products that were produced in Grays Harbor. However, the site in Grays Harbor County went into receivership.
Mathur and the GRSNFC leadership team decided to move the business to Tacoma and diversify its product line.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “We have to work pretty hard to get there. Most industries are still pretty conservative. They don’t just want to adopt. There will be early adopters — it will be those that have more pain and can have more gain.”
Mathur said the company is targeting smaller manufacturers that might be dealing with specific problems that a new additive could fix or that want to save money.
GRSNFC is focusing its attention on paper products and coatings. The staff then plans to move into cement and concrete products and finally enter the plastics, carbon fibers and glass markets.
“We are going to be smart about how we approach these markets,” Powers said. “The biggest problem is to figure out what we shouldn’t be doing because we have so many opportunities. Focus can be a problem. If you don’t have focus, you can end up not being successful.”
GRSNFC is on many state agencies’ radars.
Last year, that paid off when one of those connections introduced EcoAbode, formerly EcoHabitat, to GRSNFC.
EcoAbode designs, develops and manufactures specialized emergency, temporary and permanent housing geared for worldwide distribution.
“Can we use nano fibers in our product to make them stronger and lighter?” EcoAbode co-partner Norm Gannon said he asked when he first met with GRSNFC.
The short answer for Gannon was, “Yes.”
The companies now co-habitat in Tacoma and Gannon is GRSNFC’s vice president of administration. But Gannon said he is looking forward to when both companies move out of their current site.
“This is a temporary shelter, if you will,” he said. “(We) plan to build a 10-acre industrial park.”
Mathur said the park would be a near-zero emissions industrial complex because of his company’s technology and ability to capture other businesses’ CO2 emissions when located next to them.
“We want different industries,” Gannon said. “We could sublease to other tenants on our property and have a manufacturing cluster.”
GRSNFC’s executives said the industrial park is about two years away. Mathur said he wants the company to stay in Washington and is currently looking at two sites in the South Sound.
“The demand alone in Washington will be four or five times alone what we have the capacity to do today,” he said.
Writer Breanne Coats can be reached at bcoats@BusinessExaminer.com.