Revchem Composites, Inc.
Challenges and achievements
Business View Magazine interviews Pete Pendleton, President of Revchem Composites, as part of our focus on innovation in the American composites industry.
Revchem Composites, Inc. was originally founded in 1975 in Costa Mesa, California by Doug and Gina Davis, as Revchem Plastics, Inc., a supplier of fibreglass composites to manufacturers of boats, tub showers, airplanes, motorcycle fairings, surfboards, and general fabrication. Today, the company, which changed its name to Revchem Composites in 2009, is based in Bloomington, California, with four other west coast locations. Its products include resins, reinforcements, adhesive, gel coat and pigments, foams, process materials, and additives and fillers. The company caters to the automotive, construction, sports, surfing, military, aerospace, entertainment, and marine sectors.
“We buy materials from different composite manufacturers – resin companies, reinforcements, core materials, etc., and we distribute them to the industry, so people can build their products,” says Company President, Pete Pendleton. “Also located at the Bloomington site is our Dura Technologies Company that blends base resins and epoxies into ready-to-use products. We manufacture gel coats and coatings for the composites industry there and Revchem distributes them, in addition to products we buy from others.”
Revchem has approximately 100 employees and satellite distribution centers in Costa Mesa, San Fernando, and Stockton, California, and a large distribution center in Tumwater, Washington that services clients in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle and Portland. The company distributes over 4,000 different products from 200 suppliers, and its business model calls for the very best service it can offer to its customers, which is: “order today, deliver tomorrow.”
“Our inventory fill rate is 96-97 percent and we, typically, can take an order late in the afternoon, with a high probability we have it in stock, and deliver it the next morning, so our customers are making product out of it less than 24 hours after the time they’ve ordered it,” Pendleton explains. “Ninety-five percent of our product is delivered on our company-owned, semi-trailer trucks, and we process 150 -plus orders a day. Our 13 field salespeople are well-trained to help manufacturers deal with technical resource issues, understand laminate schedules, sort through issues related to building the products. So, quick delivery, good inventory, high tech support, and we deliver when customers ask, not when it’s scheduled for their area, which is a different business model than the competition. Revchem, historically, has always tried to add value. We’ve got an extremely competent technical sales force to go out and help the end user apply the product, engineer it correctly, use the right products for the right applications, and make suggestions from a waste management and environmentally-sound perspective.
A current challenge for the company concerns the application of California’s Proposition 65, formally known as Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, which requires the state to maintain and update a list of chemicals known or suspected of causing cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. “The Prop 65 drum is beating quite loud over styrene emissions and it has truly scared a lot of our customers within the state,” Pendleton notes. “And it, probably, stifled some growth and even caused a number of the composite fabricators to consider, or physically, leave the State of California and move to neighboring Nevada or Arizona, where it’s more environmentally-friendly to our industry. That’s a concern for us as a company because we are southern California-based with northern California distribution centers, which makes up a large share of our business.
The good news is that the company recently achieved one accomplishment in its desire to move eastward. Pendleton reports, “We acquired a small competitor by the name of Composites West, last September. That acquisition has gone very well. We kept the Composites West name, but it is a Revchem-owned company in its entirety. The president and founder remains the president and the company is doing quite well. Their headquarters are in Nevada, and they specialize, totally, in advanced composites, high modulus materials, carbon fiber, and they do a great job in a small niche. We’re seeing growth, now, within their sales group, and they, too, are expanding their physical footprint.”
Meanwhile Revchem continues to service its many customers, including those in the automotive sector. “We are active in the PRI (Performance Racing Industry) segment and we’re working closely with a number of the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) race teams to provide advanced composite materials both for funny car bodies and other uses of carbon fiber and advanced composite materials in the NHRA drag racing community,” Pendleton states.
It is also keeping up with the latest advancements in the composite industry, including what’s known as “pre-preg” materials. Pre-preg is “pre-impregnated” composite fibers where a thermoset polymer matrix material, such as epoxy, or a thermoplastic resin is already present. The fibers often take the form of a weave and the matrix is used to bond them together and to other components during manufacture. “Pre-preg is a product that comes out of the freezer, brought to room temperature, worked into the mold, then vacuum bagged, and it emits very little VOCs into the atmosphere,” Pendleton explains. “It is a far superior process, but not always the most user-friendly. People have to embrace the technology and learn how to use it.”
But that, of course, is where this family-owned, 44 year-old company excels – delivering composite solutions to its customers and educating them on their uses and applications, thus fulfilling Revchem Composites’ mission: “increasing the productivity and profitability of composite fabricators.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Revchem Composites
WHAT: Composites materials distributor
WHERE: Bloomington, California