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New Leadership Team Transforming KMCO, LLC

"A company transformation was required to ensure the company is positioned to meet strong market demand, from both existing and new potential customers."


A transformation is taking place at KMCO under a new management team led by President and CEO John Foley. From strengthening the company’s health, safety, security and environmental programs to implementing a new employee incentive plan, the pieces are being put in place to move the company forward.

KMCO is owned by ORG Chemical Holdings, a private equity firm, and has specialty chemical manufacturing and tolling facilities in Crosby and Port Arthur, TX, respectively.

KMCO is a great American success story. Founded by entrepreneur, Artie McFerrin in 1975, the company rapidly grew into a leading custom chemical processer focused on producing high-value specialty chemicals for some of the most successful global chemical companies. “We believe we are now the largest and most successful toll producer in our market and technologies,” Foley said. “However, the company ultimately outgrew its management systems, and a company transformation was required to ensure the company is positioned to meet strong market demand, from both existing and new potential customers for safe, reliant and competitive contract manufacturing,” he said.

“Evolving from a highly successful entrepreneurial model to a model consistent with any major chemical company with all the best practices, human resources, finance, health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) is necessary and required to meet the challenges of today’s competitive and regulatory environment and restart accelerated growth as the current model was straining to keep up with current demands and had limited capability to deliver on new growth projects.”

According to Foley, KMCO is effectively a new company with a 40-year history of success. “We are determined to take that success to the next level and meet the ever-rising expectations of our customers, our regulators, our industry and our surrounding communities,” he said.

Foley, who previously worked at Solvay and its predecessor companies for more than 25 years, managing and directing various businesses, took over as President and CEO of KMCO in May 2015 and built a talented new management team with both longtime employees and fresh new faces.

Since joining the company one year ago, “I’ve been encouraged by the strong interest and support given by our existing customers to see us improve and grow with them,” Foley said. “Our dedicated employees are successfully dealing with the ‘transformational challenge’ of continuing to run the company well, while redesigning and implementing management systems and process changes required to ensure our future success. “The management team and model evolution is challenging to execute, but we are making important progress, recognized by our employees, customers, suppliers, the local community and even regulatory agencies,” Foley said. “This is a long journey; however, we are already seeing the impact in improved competitiveness, supply chain management practices, HSSE culture and results, and a large, rapidly growing sales pipeline.”

Members of the management team include KMCO Plant Manager Matt White, who joined the company in October 2015. He brings more than 26 years of experience in maintenance, operations and plant management to his new role at KMCO, having previously worked for Rockwater Energy Solutions as Director of Manufacturing. David Spacek, who has more than 20 years of experience in the chemical industry, continues to serve as Plant Manager at the KMTEX, LLC, facility, a role he has held since 2001.

Other members of the management team include John “Ken” Ownby, Technical Manager, who joined KMCO in 1983; Kelly Nidini, Health, Safety, Security and Environmental Manager, who became part of the team in March 2015; Kim George, Director of Human Resources and Communications, who came on board in November 2013; Ronnie Meaux, Controller, who joined the team in November 2015; and the newest member of the team, Chris Houston, Acting Sales Director, who came on board in January 2016.

Foley’s team is transforming the company by making significant investments to recruit and retain respected industry talent and institute new management systems, processes and policies designed to make KMCO a model for safe and compliant operations and strategically position the company for growth.

The team’s mission is “to deliver superior specialty chemical manufacturing and toll processing services that create value for our customers, rewarding careers for our employees and attractive financial returns for our investors,” Foley said.

According to Ownby, the cultural and operational transformation occurring at KMCO goes beyond emphasis. It is driven by a complete change in priorities. HSE issues are the first controlling factors of decision making. “HSE considerations function as a stand-alone screen through which all activities are sifted,” he said.

“Secondarily, operating efficiency is becoming the second facet of our operation that must be satisfied,” Ownby said. “Changes in organization or process were historically made based on minimum immediate effort and cost – i.e. the ‘path of least resistance.’ The shift is to change based on medium to long term cost effectiveness and sustainability.”

Business Development Manager Will Baker said, “Refining the internal management is leading to better accountability throughout the organization. The immediate and visible result is strengthening of the existing production capacity while becoming more responsive to customer needs with the intention of cementing 40 years of entrepreneurial growth into a foundation for commercial excellence and sustainable growth.

“We now have a management team that is transforming KMCO into a model of accountability and commercial excellence that will continue to grow and be profitable well into the future,” he said.

A significant part of the company’s transformation has been strengthening the health, safety and security and environmental (HSSE) management systems to ensure growth in a safe, compliant manner. “We have no higher priority than to assure that our processes adhere to strict industry and government safety standards, and our employees and contractors return home safely each and every day,” Foley said.

As part of this effort, KMCO invested in projects such as a new Rockwell Distributed Control System (DCS), a data management tracking system (Master Control), new scrubber systems and two newly constructed 350,000 gallon wastewater tanks.

In order to establish a new company culture, KMCO rolled out a revised Mission and Core Values, as well as HSSE principles, developed and supported by the management team. The company also implemented a Management Incentive Plan (MIP) that considers performance-based metrics and ties directly to the Mission and Core Values. “The MIP recognizes employee contribution and commitment to achieving the company’s business objectives and allows employees to share in the company’s success,” Foley said.

Another key is aligning internal teams to support growth, Foley said. This includes building and implementing performance management systems and controls that include the budget, metrics driven accountability, pay for performance, delegation of authority and supply chain management, among other efforts.

With his team in place and key systems implemented, Foley said he is “excited about the future” at KMCO.