With a company name like AWSM – yes, it’s pronounced “awesome” – it’s clear that clever strategy is part of the AWSM Solutions business.
AWSM Solutions, which came to Bear, Delaware, in 2020, is a custom liquid blender and toll processor that is part of The Royale Group, a collection of specialty chemical companies. Toll processing, or contract processing, is basically a nimbler approach for quicker end-to-end product delivery. The supply chain solutions company handles everything from tankers to 55-gallon drums, all the way down to spray bottles.
“The bulk of what we do is customer-directed toll processing,” said Gene Fatula, director of business development, who leads the company along with John Logue, chief executive officer of The Royale Group. “A company might come along with 50,000 of a liquid product and say, ‘We need you to mix it in your giant blenders, make us a formula and package it with our requirements.’”
Bringing manufacturing back to the United States is an opportunity on the minds of both Logue and Fatula. Toll processing gives their company advantages that offshore manufacturers cannot.
“It’s hard for a lot of our clients to get a quality product delivered quickly and conveniently in the current supply chain,” Logue noted.
Before joining forces, Logue had been a customer of Fatula’s for many years. He realized there was something bigger possible from their working relationship, given the challenges they both saw in the manufacturing supply chain.
“If you study what is happening with logistics and freight, the time lag and price constraints were destroying the American supply chain,” Fatula said. “John and I decided to create a niche that would bring jobs back to Delaware and be part of a needed solution.”
In 2019, AWSM New Jersey, a member of The Royale Group, was named Distributor of the Year through the National Association of Chemical Distributors, an impressive feat within the hundred-billion-dollar industry. Logue invited Fatula into the business venture, adding manufacturing to the Royale portfolio, as AWSM Solutions Delaware.
Ideal Location for AWSM’s Supply Chain Solutions
A number of elements had pointed the company toward Delaware. Logue and Fatula found that Delaware’s business-friendly approach was a big part in their decision to set up a location here, as well as move their corporate headquarters to the First State.
“While we are 100% for regulations, Delaware actually makes doing the right thing easy by having people in places to help simplify the process,” Fatula said. “Great location, great resources and a great, affordable workforce, is why Delaware has always done well with business.”
Although not required at the time of their decision to come to Delaware, Fatula and Logue decided to set a $15 minimum wage for AWSM Solutions. The rate scales quickly from there and provides great opportunity for employees.
To put together the new venture in Bear, AWSM worked with numerous state agencies. Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) provided guidance with regulatory issues while the Delaware Small Business Administration helped the company with complex funding issues that involved four states. Delaware Prosperity Partnership helped the company through the process of acquiring a grant from the Delaware Strategic Fund for capital improvements to its new Bear location.
Throughout the last year, AWSM has been busy with products that have increased in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new facility makes a range of cleaning supplies and disinfectants along with pharmaceutical ingredients.
The Bear facility already employs 15 full-time employees. Logue and Fatula are looking to hire additional workers.
“Our goal is to run two 10-hour shifts each day, five days a week,” Fatula said. “We’d like to add more employees by the end of the year.”
Fatula added that their plans look achievable based on the “very promising” talent pipeline the company already has developed. Right now, the challenge is getting needed equipment fast enough to supply the project – which is progressing positively.
“We have a great team here,” Fatula said. “It’s great to see smiles on faces when you walk in in the morning. Having a successful business and having a positive effect on a community and your employees is what it’s all about.”