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Companies & industry

Nail polish: U.S. company Keystone and its Polychromatic division are investing

Leader on the world market and recognized for its specialization in the manufacturing of nail gels, U.S. firm Keystone is continuing to invest. With a turnover of US$ 180 million in 2013, and 400 people working on three sites (New Jersey and Pennsylvania), the American giant is confirming its expertise in the sector by investing further in the nail polish area with its Polychromatic division, taking advantage of its know-how gained in the integrated production of monomers and polymers. After the US$ 40 million it invested in the 26,000 sqm plant, which was acquired from Merck and which makes it one of the largest unit in its class worldwide, Keystone also plans to produce nail polish in The Netherlands as of the beginning of 2015 where its distribution centre is already installed. Both sites offer clients, high production capacity, multiple local laboratory services and bulk or full service products. Moreover, Keystone has announced, for the end of 2014, the commissioning of a factory in Brazil. Overview with Cary Robinson, President and CEO.

Cary Robinson, President and CEO

Cary Robinson, President and CEO

Premium Beauty News - A company whose history goes way back? And a family business too!

Cary Robinson - Yes, absolutely! The history of Keystone dates back to 1898. The company was bought by my father in 1968, almost half a century ago, at the time it employed thirty people for a turnover of $ 4 million. Its main activity was focused on the production of monomers and polymers for the dental sector, with a strong R & D expertise in these technologies and the industrial quality requirement associated with this sector. Then, thanks to this technical cross-disciplinary expertise, the company gradually began to move towards the fast growing segment of nail gels, where we filed significant patents. This was our first encounter with the cosmetics industry where, in no time, we became one of its leading and acknowledged actors.

It is indeed important to stress on this historical mastery of monomer and polymer production, because it is on this core activity that we managed to built our expertise, bring talented teams together, build our learning curve up to marketing. Hence, today, we can legitimately claim providing a real “plus” in the manufacture and marketing of nail polish. Our strategy is based on strong technological advances, a highly reliable and qualitative industrial tool (GMP, ISO, Pharma), breakthrough innovations, combined with a differentiated marketing offer to support our clients.

Premium Beauty News - What difference does the ability to manage these manufacturing processes precisely make? What is actually the “plus” that you bring in the designing of nail polishes?

Cary Robinson - We have brought considerable progress in the development of nail polish. For example, I can tell you that we were able to improve very significantly the four functional parameters - which are Adhesion, Brightness, Application, Drying - both through our know-how in formulation with our expertise and the added value of new ingredients, and the manufacturing processes. On adhesion, which is a parameter for which demand is often unsatisfied, our results are exceptional and - in accordance with our strategy of technological sustainability - protected by a strong patenting policy.

We also invested particularly in stability issues to reduce consumers’ perceptions of poor quality, I am referring to syneresis, and sedimentation. Concerned about market expectations for coloured products, like some pastel shades, and also nail care products, we have also managed to develop a new technology that reduces the risks of yellowing of nitrocellulose over time. With this know-how and technology, we are also capable of meeting new requirements, which are important, concerning care products in the nail care segment.

Premium Beauty News - You have launched a consistent investment program!

Cary Robinson - If we put together the financial efforts already made in the United States and those to come in Europe and Brazil, it indeed makes a lot of money. In the Pennsylvania plant where we produce nail polish and offer an “Open Lab” of active development and dedicated to our clients for the past six months, this represents some US$ 40 million to which must be added five million in The Netherlands and the same amount in Brazil. To note that we invest for both gels and nail polishes. Today, we export from the United States about 40% of our production, two-thirds of which go to Europe with Germany on top of the list of customer countries followed by Italy. Russia is an important market for us as well as the Middle East and China.

Premium Beauty News - The investment is just as important in R&D?

Cary Robinson - That’s right! 20% of our staff is dedicated to R&D. Our teams, our high-tech equipment, the constant search for new more efficient manufacturing protocols, lab surfaces, are all very important. This is the core of our original knowledge. We draw our DNA from it, for the sole benefit of our customers. We redesigned our in-site lab at Gibbstown to integrate a dedicated area for our customer so that they can stay in permanent touch with the developers during the creation phase and for the latter to better keep track of the customer’s requirements. We have a very competent and talented cross–disciplinary team in both the manufacturing field, and the marketing area.

While the appeal of the nail polish market’s high cycle has led to many changes in capital during the last three years, the strategy of a family business like Keystone, which is part of an ongoing process, offers through its investments, its high capacity, and its innovations, a new growth driver in nail polish. We had conceitedly claimed, but also in a spirit of challenge, “Reinventing nail polish”, we reached our goal on the nail gel segment; today in the more traditional nail polish segment, the performance and the differentiation of our offer are such that we want the profession to take advantage from it, starting with the forthcoming Cosmoprof in Bologna.

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