Organic Plant Health, the established producer of pro-grade hybrid fertilizers and soil conditioners designed to help customers in residential and commercial applications improve the overall health of their plants, as well as soil conditions, acquired their major subsidiary, Kenactiv Innovations, Inc., a natural fiber developer with its hands in everything from composites and packaging, to oil drilling and textiles, at the start (Jan 25) of this year.
This was a major milestone move for OPHI, which has managed to create a strong retail partner network presence thanks to the superb quality of their organic-based, environmentally responsible lineup of products for turf care, shrub and ornamental tree care, as well as for vegetables and flower beds. These products, which also offer exceptional controls against insects and disease, are made at the company's 12k square foot facility in Charlotte, North Carolina. OPHI was originally founded back in 2007 to spearhead commercialization of the best organic-based plant care products possible and to offer a real alternative for farmers to those solutions available from the mainstream greens industry, which are all basically salt-based synthetics that are ultimately quite detrimental to soil health.
With industry veteran co-founders, fifth generation farmer and certified master gardener, Bill Styles (NYSE:CEO) and retail marketing guru, Alan Talbert (NYSE:COO), at the helm you can expect a continual evolution too, progressing along the natural lines you would expect from this business model/philosophy. A great deal of expansion last year landed the company's liquid/granular fertilizers and soil treatment offerings on more (predominately) hardware store and garden center shelves than ever before, and the partner network is mounting steadily, heading for well north of 100 this year.
For a company like OPHI, which has been very comfortable riding the leading edge of the green wave, the evolution towards the Kenactiv acquisition, as well as the resulting entity's punching strength, feels natural, because it is. Kenactiv is a revolutionary fiber company that is single-handedly changing the materials science game with their EZ-Retting™ process, a real technological breakthrough in the area of natural fiber manufacturing that is light years ahead of existing bacteria-based and mechanical separation methods.
You see, the existing retting methods for removing the lignin from fibers (which bind the hard outer stalk together) produces harmful by-products that require secondary treating, or these methods reduce the quality of the resulting fibers, and in addition to these drawbacks, the process is often time consuming or labor intensive. To enhance the benefits of their paradigm-shattering processing methodology, the company has also developed a great deal of expertise in what is arguably one of the most sustainable, rapidly renewable fiber crops on earth, Kenaf (heights of 12 to 15 feet in only 150 days of grow time). Kenaf requires very little in the way of fertilizer or pesticide and can be grown in almost any soil, but beyond this robustness, the plant also happens to produce maximum yield per acre of fiber, with 100% off the take being usable, compared to 60% for dominant crops like flax.
Kenaf is also lightweight, while offering optimum absorbency and tensile strength characteristics for a wide variety of material applications, and it should come as no surprise that this extremely dense fiber has found broad use across several markets like automotive, packaging, plastics and composites, geotextiles and nonwovens, oil and gas development, and of course in environmental management and consumer goods areas. Agriculture products from the company for organic plant health, as well as Kenactiv's Natural Fiber Mats are helping to bring pro-grade lawn and garden care to the masses and the FiberZorb™ hazard spill and clean up products make incredible use of Kenaf's particularly high absorbency rate.
Expertise in this area has led to the recently announced (May 2) launch of a whole line of nonwoven mats (felts) designed hand-in-hand with materials industry giant BASF Corp., makers of the Acrodur® series of resins, for maximum performance in natural fiber composites. The genius of this relationship is that the VOC-free, water-based acrylics from BASF and the superb natural fibers from OPHI form an ideal combo for replacing much of the injection-molded plastics and other unsustainable materials we use today, with both significant weight reduction and improved material strength as well. This is a game changer in many respects and investors will be keen to keep a close eye on this vector as it develops further.
A product like DrillWall™ is another amazing example of the Kenaf fiber's versatility, as this oil industry product affords lab-verified fluid loss reduction of up to 50% compared with the leading mud additives in sand packing tests using a water-based system. DrillWall's proprietary formulation keeps fluid moving in the borehole and reduces overhead costs while improving safety for the workers, all via the bounteous power of all natural Kenaf fibers. Switch gears to a product like their Super Premium NafCorEQ™, a revolutionary horse and animal bedding made from the core of the super-absorbent Kenaf plant, and you can start to see how the properties of the fiber easily strike hard and fast across so many industries.
Back in March (Mar 26) the company even announced a deal with materials science company, Ecovative, who is working on a whole new class of home-compostable composites, with Kenactiv being selected for raw material supply. Again we have a case where the company has gone to the trouble of working directly with a partner to help realize a custom solution using Kenaf, as well as the company's unique processing and treatment capabilities.
To learn more about Kenactiv Innovations, visit www.Kenactiv.com
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