Mike Efting is a big name in the chemical industry. During the past 20 years, his unique approach to sales and distribution has generated success for five startups, launched one of the first successful “e-marketplaces” in the online distribution business, and garnered returns for major producers.
Efting’s work has taken him around the globe, where he meets with high-ranking officials in countries as diverse as Peru, Chile, Australia and Uzbekistan. Efting’s latest venture is with the Plano-based chemical sales and distribution specialist Viachem, which he founded.
Q. You were an early adopter of online business models. What’s an e-marketplace?
A. Yes, I was an early advocate of e-marketplaces, as president of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based eChemicals, the first chemical e-marketplace in the world. We sold that business in 2000. E-marketplaces tend to be somewhat industry-specific, and their mission is to digitize and automate the procurement process from catalog product search to price discovery, order flow, logistics and payment processing. Scale is the name of the game, and those who operate on a global platform typically perform better.
Q. Do you like to travel? What’s your favorite place to visit?
A. I love traveling. One of my favorite places to visit is South Africa, where there is a haven of savvy business people operating in a culture similar to our own. As far as fun, it’s hard to beat an African safari, which is magnificent. Also, Brazil is a fascinating destination with incredible food.
Q. How does Viachem market its partners’ chemicals differently from other firms?
A. The Viachem business model is optimized for the sale and distribution of specialty chemicals. The specialty chemical market in North America is a $100 billion industry, and there are few firms focused on this niche with a business model that actually produces results. Viachem is changing the way international specialty chemicals are sold in North America. For example, since the sales cycle for specialty chemicals is longer than for commodity chemicals, we’ve designed our processes to optimize that environment profitably — for our partners and end-user customers.
A. I am a business guy who understands the chemistry behind the products we sell. Our salespeople are the product experts with degrees either in chemistry or biology. Viachem is the fifth startup I’ve “married.” I love challenging old assumptions and attitudes and creating business models that help our employees, customers, suppliers and investors succeed. The hard work comes in capital funding, which is the lifeblood of any new business, and it’s been a tough year for that, to say the least. Viachem is now cash-flow positive, so our current focus is on growth, which is really where my heart is.
About Viachem Ltd.
Viachem is headquartered in Plano, Texas, and serves customers nationwide using a sophisticated marketing and sales model that helps manufacturers increase their customer base. Viachem’s services to chemical purchasers include third party verification and quality control, as well as formulation assistance and competitive pricing for specialty chemicals used in a wide range of industries. For more information, visit www.viacheminc.com.