ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After the explosion in August at a Chinese chemical plant that left 150 dead, a delegation from that country flew to southern California to consult with an Albuquerque-based firm about safe storage of hazardous chemicals.
Rinchem Co. Inc., in business for about four decades, has developed an expertise in both storage and transportation of hazardous chemicals and gases, said Chris Wright, vice president of sales and marketing.
Among the causes of the explosion in Tianjin, China, on Aug. 12 was a dangerous brew of hazardous and flammable chemicals improperly stored in close proximity.
“They were trying to figure out how the best in the world is doing it,” Wright said of the Chinese officials who visited Rinchem’s site in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. “The very existence of something like that happening is why Rinchem is in business.”
Rinchem “as we know it” started in 1976 when Bill Moore bought the firm from its Arizona owner and opened an office on Edith Boulevard with a handful of employees, Wright said. The company is still on Edith, although at a different location, and now has 400 employees around the world. Moore is CEO.
Rinchem started as a supplier of raw materials for paints but eventually shifted its focus toward becoming world-class in the business of transporting and storing chemicals.
In the 1980s, the company began homing in on the semiconductor industry, which uses hazardous chemicals and gases in the production of microchips.
Now, that industry comprises 70 percent of Rinchem’s business in what Wright described as a “hyper-focused niche.”
The hazardous substances are temporarily stored in more than two dozen specially designed warehouses around the world, including Taiwan, Korea, Israel and the newest in Chandler, Ariz.,
Rinchem has no permanent storage facilities; rather the gases and chemicals are held until a company needs them for manufacturing. Sometimes, the storage is within promixity of a manufacturer, but Rinchem’s other speciality is transportation. It can get substances moved by truck, steamship or plane.
Meanwhile, the privately held firm is outgrowing its corporate offices on Edith NE and is looking to relocate elsewhere in Albuquerque, Wright said.
Its continued goal, however, is “to keep the world safe,” he said. “Our mission is to create the safest chemical supply chains in the world.”