We had the good fortune of connecting with Kevin Minissian and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kevin, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Success for Norchem since our beginning has been defined by one sole principle: customer-centricity. All of our products and services were designed and engineered by putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes, experiencing their problems, and trying to resolve them with technology and process. We serve a very niche industry called Textile Services. It consists of large-scale laundry operators that pick up, clean, sanitize, and deliver textiles for the healthcare, industrial workwear, food service, and hospitality sectors. Our flagship laundry chemical programs and water recycling systems are industry recognized for making their workplaces safer, more efficient, environmentally sustainable and compliant, and less costly to operate. Unlike our competitors, we construct all our water recycling systems, chemical injection systems, and other engineered process systems in all stainless steel for maximum durability. The logic that operates the systems is programmed in-house so that we can support all the functions in real-time without delay. The component parts are all purchased through us so that we can support them if things fail. We are a single-source technology partner for the industry that our customers rely on 24/7 to keep their doors open and their customers happy. The reason why the systems we offer are so robust is that the time was taken to play the role of the customer by many of our engineers who come from the industry. They work in these laundries and see the dangers of chemical spills, the inefficiencies of underloading and overloading of washing machines, poor sanitation practices, poor quality control practices, and so forth. This is where our team comes forward in a consultative capacity as their strategic operational partner. We show them how to mitigate their risk, by installing stainless steel chemical lines with robust pumping systems that minimize leaks and optimize flow. We show them how to wash water and rinse water can be filtered and recycled using membrane technology with minimal operating cost and maximum water usage savings. I think our slogan says it best: Your Challenge. Our Solution. We are risk-takers and problem-solvers primarily, and it permeates through innovative product design and customer service initiative that keeps Norchem’s approach current and evolving rapidly. Our ability to adapt to the fast-changing times is an important aspect of our success as well. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic first began, Norchem quickly adapted to produce and sell FDA-approved Hand Sanitizer and Disinfectant Cleaner approved on the EPA N-List for use against viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 to our customer base and extended communities. Ultimately, our Norchem team across the country is a squadron of problem-solvers that never relent until the work is done, the results are apparent, and the customer is satisfied. The unwavering dedication of our people to the customers’ needs is unmatched by any competitor. It is my hope that all my hard work and that of my growing team over the years is carried on by those who embody our mission with the same care and responsibility that allows for our continued success now and in the future.
What should our readers know about your business?
My journey to founding Norchem first began when I came to this country in 1970 at 19 years old from Armenia (then it was still a part of the USSR). Not knowing a word of English, aside from my infatuation with the Beatles, I began working the moment we arrived. Although I was just a few months shy of receiving my college degree in Electrical Engineering in Armenia, I had to start all over here. I started with classes, learning English, while working during the day, and sometimes nights. Eventually, I managed to attend and finish my degree at Cal State Los Angeles in Biochemistry. As I searched for a stable job, I quickly learned that I preferred to be my own boss and by my own curiosity met the person who would introduce me to the housekeeping and instituational chemical business in the late 1970s. By the early 1980’s I had established myself with my own company, HyeChem (“Hye” means “Armenian” in Armenian) and expanded to supplying to larger commercial laundries. The circumstances to establish myself amongst customers wasn’t easy, and I didn’t make it any easier by choosing such a niche and challenging industry. But I persisted to gain their trust by showing my commitment to them and that of the quality of products I produced. Using my engineering background, I spent time watching the customer’s cleaning processes and my first great innovation was born. I engineered a system to automate injecting liquid detergent into the wash process versus the hazard of manually putting powder. Since then, the growth of the company flourished on recognizing the certain things that we could and continue to make easier. We have invested a great deal of time and money in R & D to develop not only Green Chemistry to protect the environment but also to assist our customers in meeting regulations for sewer discharge as well as reducing water and sewer costs by cleaning the water for recycling. In 1989, I lost my business to a fire started on the fourth of July by the neigboring tenant. With my wife 7 months pregnant with our first child, I was fortunate to have the support of my cousin to secure a new building not even a month later. With the new chapter of the company, I decided to found Norchem, (“Nor” means “New” in Armenian). From that point forward Norchem continued to grow exponetially. I invented the first Ceramic Waste Water Filtration and Recycling System for the commercial laundry industry, the UltraPure. From there we continued to develop the logic of our systems in house, and support our customers with our own specialized team. Today, we have customers all over North America and continue to innovate the sustainable future of the industry. If there’s anything that sets Norchem apart the most: it’s our persistence. Our persistance to evolve, innovate, find solutions, and support a future that is that much more clean because of it. We serve a lesser known industry, but our impact is widespread – and I’m proud of that.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A very big shoutout to the Norchem family – each and every team member that has made Norchem what it is today, from the start. Norchem is one of my life’s greatest accomplishments and I am proud to see the legacy we’ve built together. Another important and special shoutout to my immediate family, especially my wife and children who have invested themselves in the mission of our shared success and who I know will guide it further.