With personal savings, a home equity loan and the part-time help of former colleagues who had already retired, Jerry Jost founded Jost Chemical Co. in 1985.
His creative ability to identify gaps in the marketplace drove the company’s success in manufacturing high-purity chemicals for pharmaceutical, nutritional, food and other specialty markets. Initially, Jost realized a need for domestically produced pure ingredients for baby formulas. So he created a cost-effective process to satisfy the need, establishing the company as a competitive alternative.
When Pfizer exited the calcium citrate market, Jost saw the opportunity to modify his ammonium citrate production process to capture the market left behind by his competitor.
Then in 2007, citric acid producers struggled against the challenges of cheaper Chinese production and pricier raw material due to shortages. Faced with losing the edge on his niche, Jost differentiated his products and grew into other areas. Today, Jost Chemical manufactures 160 high-purity specialty chemical products.
But Jost, the company’s president, refuses to take credit, focusing instead on his work force which has never seen a layoff. By building a flat organization and providing resources to help employees use their talents freely, he builds long-term engagement.
Jost devotes company resources to employee training, even obtaining two consecutive Customized Training Grants from the state of Missouri to further develop skills. In turn, employees share in the company’s success. For all but two years, they received 15 percent contributions to a simplified pension program.
Jost’s foresight to diversify and his continued investment in people set the company apart. Despite the downturn, the company has expanded with new accounts and products, additional territories and more employees. In 2008, sales increased more than 33 percent while sales at 10 of their largest customers dipped an average of 22 percent.
How to reach: Jost Chemical Co., (314) 428-4300 or www.jostchemical.com