What does it take to start and grow a successful materials company? August Brown sat down for an interview with the CEO of Semplastics, Mr. William (Bill) Easter to learn the insights that have guided his success over the years. Bill is a self-described “Bell Labs refugee” with over 30 years of experience in industry and over 56 U.S. patents. Yes, 56 U.S. patents! Bill has led Semplastics, a supplier of precision plastic engineered components for the semiconductor, medical, aerospace, and oil & gas industries since 2000. Bill's unquenchable passion for materials led him to found X-MAT in 2011. X-MAT has developed an array of high performing polymer derived ceramic composite materials that have successfully been applied as building materials, anodic battery materials and light weight mirror backing for advanced mirrors and LIDAR support applications. X-MAT has won over $8M in federal contracts.
While the context of the conversation focused on his materials businesses, it’s clear that the principles that he espouses can be applied to any business, particularly those in the manufacturing, industrials goods and chemicals sectors. Here is an excerpt from the conversation.
What are the trends that are occurring across the materials sector?
New materials developments are moving towards lighter weight materials that take less energy to produce and provide higher performance. More and more collaborations are occurring in the materials industries as companies are beginning to strategize around maximizing their resources due to the pandemic.
What makes materials businesses different than other businesses?
The timeline for a materials business is longer than most businesses. As a materials business, you must be an ultra-marathoner. It requires more patience and owners must be willing to play the long game. You must be willing to go after government contracts for new developments. Finally, materials companies should seek to connect with local universities in order to leverage their analytical resources and their safety equipment (ie fume hoods).
What are the best lessons that you have learned?
The integrity of the people you work with are more important than the contracts you sign. It is vitally important to identify people of high integrity to work with. You must believe in the pit or the hunch in your stomach. Go with your gut.
You can receive the full transcript of the interview by contacting our office. To stay abreast of our latest news and receive more helpful tips, subscribe to our blog. To help businesses through the current COVID-19 crisis, we are extending the 30-min free strategy session with August Brown to 1-hr. You can select a time here.
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