Custom synthesis specialist with its finger on the pulse
On April 1, 2006, Saltigo GmbH was founded as a wholly owned subsidiary of the specialty chemicals group LANXESS. “Our company thus got the chance to focus fully on its core business of custom and exclusive synthesis and rapidly and efficiently adjust to market conditions and demands,” said Saltigo Managing Director Wolfgang Schmitz, describing the reasons for this carve-out.
In line with this brief, the first few years of the company were dominated by constant change. The initial restructuring and realignment process was soon followed by a move to new territories. Saltigo was, after all, no beginner. The employees brought with them their many years of experience from working for Saltigo’s forerunners. And with an investment of around EUR 80 million, LANXESS provided for a rapid modernization, adaptation and expansion of existing plant.
2006: Syngenta supplier award for Saltigo
Saltigo’s first success was an award from one of the world’s leading manufacturers of crop protection products, Syngenta International AG based in Switzerland. The global service-provider for custom synthesis and custom manufacturing received the Purchasing Award 2006 at the Syngenta Supplier Conference, which took place during the Chemspec tradeshow in Geneva. Syngenta praised Saltigo GmbH’s achievement of successfully establishing a complex, five-stage synthesis involving complex reaction steps and delivering the first 20 metric tons of product within just six months.
2006/2007: Efficient production and customer-oriented marketing
The modernization of the hydrogenation plant is just one example of how the company has rigorously transformed its production facilities into efficient, modern, market-oriented operations. Qualification of this production unit with an annual capacity of 500 metric tons to CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice) was achieved in record time. Only nine months elapsed between the start of planning and the first customer audit together with the launch of production in September 2006.
Separate business lines for the core areas pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals were set up immediately in line with the company’s sustainable customer orientation approach, enabling the different needs of these customer groups to be precisely addressed from the very beginning. At the same time, Saltigo globally strengthened its workforce in sales and marketing in the very first year of its existence. The idea was to be able to respond even more quickly and effectively to the wishes of regular customers and, equally, to win over new customers with an impressive level of service. Well-trained, experienced employees, an excellent infrastructure and direct access to technical and scientific innovation at the Leverkusen and Dormagen sites in North Rhine-Westphalia proved to be important competitive advantages. That was particularly important in counteracting producers from low-wage countries and quickly made Saltigo into an internationally significant and respected company.
2008: Responding promptly and flexibly to market developments
Another milestone was the inauguration of an ultra-modern multi-purpose plant for the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates in Building 010 of the Leverkusen production site in February 2008. Around EUR 10 million were invested to convert and extend an existing plant complex into this new CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice) facility. This was a cost-effective and above all very rapid means of generating the CGMP capacities the market was demanding. A total of over 200 metric tons of active ingredients (APIs = Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and registered intermediates can be manufactured annually in the plant’s four production modules.
“We have a global presence and are investing continually in new technologies and state-of-the-art facilities. It is not always necessary to build completely new plants. Instead, it is possible to modernize manufacturing processes and increase their efficiency significantly with a relatively small outlay. The condition for this is the corresponding expertise," said Dr. Andreas Stolle, head of the Pharma business line at Saltigo, describing key factors for the company's success in this business. This know-how makes it possible to respond very flexibly to customer demands. An example was the capacity expansion for an active ingredient precursor for an important pharmaceutical manufacturer in 2009 from 30 to 50 metric tons p.a., which was achieved during ongoing operation without any need to halt production.
2008: Moving closer to U.S. pharmaceutical companies
At the beginning of 2008, LANXESS Corporation established a new site in Redmond near Seattle in the U.S. State of Washington to support the growth of Saltigo’s Pharma business line. This gave the company an operating base in the United States to enable an even more direct response to the wishes of American customers. The CGMP-certified facilities of the small-volume operation and pilot plant have been used since then to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients for early clinical testing through to phase IIa.
“The U.S. market is an important center of pharmaceutical innovation. Thanks to our presence in Redmond, we have been able to create a number of fresh opportunities for new business,” added Wolfgang Schmitz. This includes in particular cooperation agreements with smaller pharmaceutical companies, which are an important driving force for the entire industry. For small companies in particular, cooperation with an experienced, reliable production partner is an extremely attractive prospect – especially if, like Saltigo, it also provides comprehensive analytical, regulatory and project management services.
2008 / 2009: Honored as the “best supplier” of the agrochemicals industry
In November 2009, Saltigo was rated as “Best Supplier” by the well-known Agrow trade journal for the second time in succession, staving off competition from a large number of companies from China, India and Europe. Explaining their selection of Saltigo, the judges highlighted the fact that Saltigo had further expanded its position as one of the leading contract manufacturers in the agrochemicals sector. With its technological strength and speedy response, the LANXESS subsidiary had supported the agrochemical industry in achieving successful market development. The company’s expertise ranges from the selection of synthetic paths via piloting to scale-up and industrial-scale production. Extensive analytical support ensures high quality standards in every phase.
At the awards ceremony, Dr. Uwe Brunk, head of the Agro & Specialty Chemicals business line, said: “Continually improving our processes and our service offering in a highly contested market is our key to success and is being rewarded more and more by our customers in the form of new orders. My thanks go out to our employees and customers who have made it possible for us to win this prestigious prize once again.”
2010: Syngenta invests in Saltigo in Leverkusen
In 2010 the Agro & Specialty Chemicals business line was once again responsible for a milestone to the company’s history. In May 2010, it announced a cooperation agreement that has so far been unique for the LANXESS group. Syngenta, a leading manufacturer of crop protection agents, invested around EUR 50 million in the expansion of several Saltigo plants in Leverkusen. This significantly increased capacities for active ingredient synthesis for crop protection agents. Saltigo supplies the active ingredients and intermediates produced at these facilities exclusively to Syngenta. Saltigo is one of the Swiss group’s global strategic suppliers.
2010: Successful FDA audit – an internationally recognized seal of quality
By definition, quality control and assurance have a significant role to play in contract synthesis. That particularly holds true for the pharmaceutical industry. Saltigo Managing Director Wolfgang Schmitz is thus particularly proud that the company's production plants passed an audit by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a "No findings" rating in summer 2010. "The FDA audit is an internationally accredited seal of quality and recognizes all the work we have put in. This shows not just U.S. customers but also pharmaceutical companies throughout the world that with us the production of active ingredients is in safe and reliable hands," said Schmitz.
Saltigo GmbH is a leading supplier in the field of custom synthesis. The company of specialty chemicals group LANXESS belongs to the Advanced Intermediates segment, which achieved total sales in 2010 of EUR 1,321 million. Saltigo, headquartered in Langenfeld and with production facilities in Leverkusen and Dormagen, employs around 1,400 staff worldwide. LANXESS Corporation (lanxess.com) also operates a further site for Saltigo in Redmond, Washington, United States.