For Gregg Shemanski, making things smaller is big business. And it keeps getting bigger every day. Apparent contradictions aside, Shemanski’s company, Custom Processing Services (CPS), specializes in micronizing and ultra-fine grinding of materials into tiny particles—often much smaller than a speck of dust. Customers worldwide use the processed materials in a wide range of products, including chemical powders, waxes, polymers, flame retardants, minerals, metals, fillers and pigments.
After two decades of experience in the materials processing industry, a confident Shemanski was ready to fulfill his childhood dream of running a business. Seven years and 33 employees later, CPS is at the forefront of the micronizing industry. Huge successes like this don’t happen by accident.
Planned Their Work, Worked Their Plan—and Then Some
Like most fledgling entrepreneurs, Shemanski and his business partner, Jeff Klinger, developed a business plan, essential for receiving funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners. While the capital infusion from Ben Franklin helped the company purchase large equipment, it was during the exercise of presenting his business plan that Shemanski had an epiphany.
“I think there was an initial misunderstanding about what we were trying to do,” he says. “When we came back a third time, the Ben Franklin people asked us very pointed questions. It made us realize that we have to watch how we present our business to others, to make sure we weren’t missing the forest for the trees. It really helped us focus on what we were doing.”
Explaining his business became increasingly important as his Ben Franklin contact person, Connie Faylor, introduced him to other business people who wanted to hear about his company.
It’s Who You Know and What You Know
In addition to a watertight business plan, prudent operating procedures and profit after only six months, CPS found great added value in the connections that Ben Franklin helped forge.
“We introduced them to the Greater Berks Development Fund. That group helped CPS by coordinating and supporting the application process with a number of federal and state funding programs to help with equipment and working capital needs, not to mention putting them in touch with other CEOs and management in the area,” said Faylor. “With startup companies, Ben Franklin pulls the right resources together and goes well beyond just making a financial investment in the company.”
“Connie knows our business and helps us overcome all of the red tape,” says Shemanski. “It was very helpful talking to others about their startup hurdles and topics like interest rates and funding. She feels like part of the company.”
Creating Confidence in the Market
Micronizing, milling, and the other processes offered by CPS require capital-intensive equipment. This makes prospective customers reluctant to trust a new company’s ability to deliver what they promised.
Ben Franklin pulls the right resources together and going well beyond just making an investment in the company.
Again, Ben Franklin’s wide network provided assistance. “They linked us with Penn State—Lehigh/Berks campus for analysis and experimentation of our machinery,” said Shemanski. “It validated our installation and efficiency, which allowed the big companies to feel comfortable working with us.”
Subsequently, a strategic alliance with equipment manufacturer NETZSCH (USA) enabled CPS to utilize the largest type air mill currently in production in the world. This is contributing to a steady increase in sales volume. The company purchased another facility in June 2004 to meet the need for increased capacity and growth. CPS currently operates 13 different processing stations in the two plants.
“Without Ben Franklin, we wouldn’t be here today,” adds Shemanski.
Custom Processing Services
Contract processor, offering ultra-fine grinding and micronizing of chemicals, minerals, pharmaceuticals, waxes,
paints, pigments and personal care products in the micron and sub-micron (nano) particle size range
Ben Franklin Involvement:
- Investments totaling $235,000
- Third-party funding assistance
- Technical assistance
- Customer introductions
On the web: www.customprocessingservices.com