Ascend Performance Materials weathers the storm and comes out on top

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Despite the challenges posed by the February 2021 winter storm, which halted operations at its key Houston-area plant for approximately a month, Ascend Performance Materials delivered substantial growth for the year and plans to continue on this trajectory. of growth.

The company, number 6 on the Houston Chronicle’s Best Private Companies list, makes chemicals, durable engineering materials and manufacturing components that go into everyday products. Ascend is also at the forefront of new technologies for industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to the electric vehicle industry.

In 2021, Ascend saw sales increase to $3.2 billion, up about 75% from the previous year.

“Last year was a very good year for us despite the fact that we had the challenges associated with freezing,” CEO Phil McDivitt said.

The winter storm knocked out power and natural gas at Ascend’s Chocolate Bayou manufacturing plant in Alvin, causing it to idle for weeks.

The company has also faced the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic and global supply chain disruptions. McDivitt said Ascend’s early pandemic strategy laid the foundation for the company’s recovery and growth.

“We are proud to say that we did not lay off a single employee,” he said. “Society has basically pulled itself together and rallied.”

Over the past two years, Ascend has been on a buying spree, acquiring Italian manufacturing companies Poliblend and Esseti Plast, a compounding plant in China, and Eurostar Engineering Plastics, a French producer of fire-retardant engineering plastics.

In March, the company announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire the compounding division of Formulated Polymers Limited, in Chennai, India. In April, Ascend completed the purchase of a high performance engineered materials producer in Mexico.

With its acquisitions, Ascend has grown its global workforce to nearly 2,900. It employs more than 700 people in the Houston area.

Ascend plans to grow by developing new products. For example, the company recently learned that a material produced in some of its factories, once considered waste, is a key material in new mRNA vaccines.

The company is in talks with pharmaceutical companies to supply this component.

“We see great opportunities in this space,” McDivitt said. “It’s an exciting new platform for us.”

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