CLEVELAND, OH: Pison Stream Solutions wants to create things no one has ever seen before. And it wants to do that in Northeast Ohio.

The company, which signed the lease on its new plant on West Snowville Road in Brecksville in July, plans to hire 150 people in the next three years. Renovations on its new Brecksville location are underway, and the plant likely will be up and running by mid-2017, said president and CEO Joseph H. James.

Pison, which is named after one of the rivers in the Garden of Eden, got its start in November 2010 in Brentwood, Tenn., where it’s still headquartered. The aim was to create a “disruptive-type chemical company” focused just on niche products, said James, who started his career at companies including Lilly Industries, Sherwin-Williams Co. and AkzoNobel.

The company was never looking to compete with the Sherwin-Williamses of the world. Instead of working to transform existing products, James said, its goal is to create entirely new ones.

“If it’s something that already exists, we shy away from it,” he said. “Our goal as a company is to create a technology that’s so new that it can not only do more than the existing product on the market, but we’ll be able to sell it at a lower price, open up a new market so that other folks out in the field will be able to enjoy the benefits of the technologies.”

For instance, Pison is working on a backup to black boxes for the aerospace industry that would allow lost aircraft to emit signals, James said. And the company’s existing products include a multifaceted high-performance additive platform that lets customers use one coating product instead of multiple to achieve different properties, such as improved scratch and impact resistance, increased flexibility and enhanced smoothness.

One of the company’s biggest markets is the defense industry, though James doesn’t want it to be known as solely a “defense company.” Products for that industry include a multifaceted powder coating that is resistant to chemical agents. About 50% of the company’s business is in defense, James said. Its other areas of focus are in special niche products for aerospace and automotive, as well as antimicrobial powder coatings.

The focus on niche products led James to want to add in-house manufacturing. At the start, he planned to have Pison develop the product platforms and sell them to existing companies. But when he realized how novel the technologies being developed were, James said he wanted to make sure they actually got to market.

“This signals a shift,” James said.

The focus for the Brecksville location will be to manufacture products the company has patented. So far, the company has four patents, with two more pending, James said. The Brecksville plant will focus on making the company’s additive lines, as well as its defense and renewable energy products, and new research.

The Brecksville location was selected because it was basically a turnkey operation. James had spent significant time at the facility at 6101 W. Snowville Road, as it used to be an AkzoNobel location that he visited often when he worked there. The similarity of the work done at the plant under AkzoNobel made the building a logical choice for Pison.

So far, Pison has been setting up its research and development operations and adding equipment, though James declined to get specific on what kind of machinery the company is bringing in. He also declined to share the cost of the lease or the company’s annual revenue. James said there are plans to upgrade the building’s entrance, and the offices and manufacturing spaces will be redesigned in 2017.

James also would like to open a second facility with more manufacturing space within the next 12 months, if possible. If that happens, he said it would be great to keep it in Northeast Ohio.

Hiring for the existing facility has already begun, with three employees hired and more being interviewed. The goal is for the company to hire a minimum of 50 employees in 2017 and the early part of 2018, and 150 in the next three years, James said.

OhioMeansJobs|Cleveland-Cuyahoga County is helping Pison to fill those open positions. Nancy Horn, business services consultant with the organization, said a large aerospace company in the area was downsizing, but those workers have been able to get interviews, and hopefully jobs, with Pison.

Pison is going to hire workers at all levels of the company, from production to chemists to supervisors. Though new to the area, the company has been good about communicating with OhioMeansJobs about what it needs, which is important, Horn said.

In addition to its hiring goals, Pison plans to release a new renewable energy technology in 2017. The powder coating composition doesn’t require direct sun rays, but can instead use any kind of light source to provide stored energy. And it can be used on a variety of materials, from wood to metal.

Pison has a patent pending on the technology, and big aspirations for the markets it wants to sell into: “Everyone,” James said, before listing some examples like IT, architectural and aerospace.

He thinks it could be a game-changer, because it doesn’t require acreage like solar panels and applies to basically any industry that uses electricity.

“So, 2017 is going to be a great year for us,” James said.

SOURCE: Crain’s Cleveland Business