What it’s like to work for a trading company – Interview with Tecnosintesi

After presenting the main job opportunities in chemical process engineering, this article will explain the job opportunities in the chemical trading sector. We will do this by interviewing Mr. Gimondi, partner at Tecnosintesi, a successful chemical trading company.

What does a chemical trader working in a trading company do?

Gimondi: “As a chemical trading company, we buy raw materials from different locations all over the world (mostly Asia and South America) and then sell them to our clients (mostly in Europe). We also export Italian specialties to the rest of the world. 

We do not only buy and sell raw materials. We also monitor the full supply chain, from the manufacturing site to the warehouse of our customer. We have a dedicated department to  optimise our logistics and monitor the transit of our products through customs. 

This job requires a lot of flexibility, there are challenges and issues every day. We tackle them really quickly by interacting with people and institutions in many different countries.”

warehouse tecnosintesi trading company

Do you deal with international partners? How important is intercultural awareness? 

Gimondi: “We work with people from all over the world. On a daily basis, we are in contact with our partners from China, Singapore, Europe and South America. Of course, our main market is Asia. For this reason, we have a partner company with headquarters in Singapore and Shanghai. This company is McKinn International, they help us out with the validation of our suppliers.

Today’s market is global, so there must be no barriers. To be competitive, it is therefore essential to have partners in different locations all over the globe.”

Do you visit your suppliers?

Gimondi: “We organize one or two trips to our Asian suppliers every year. We consider this essential in sustaining a good relationship with them. The goal of these is the creation of long term relationships for the coming years.”

What can you tell us about your company, Tecnosintesi?

Gimondi:Tecnosintesi was founded in 2005 by a former manager of multinational companies such as Lonza and Polynt. Tecnosintesi was initially a brokerage company based in Milan. It later moved to Bergamo where it started its trading activities. This is also the period where Tecnosintesi started its partnership with McKinn, a company with headquarters in Singapore and Shanghai. Our partnership has the goal of researching and certifying Asian producers to export to Europe. The process to be able to export from Asia to Europe is quite long and we take care of all the required steps. Tecnosintesi has currently 7 employees and revenues for 15 million Euros per year. We have 50 regular clients and more than 30 products on the market. Of course we are also studying and developing new products. We are becoming more and more international. We already have a German branch for years and we recently (in 2020) opened a Spanish branch. This allows us to target these two important countries in the EU market.”

Is there a difference between a chemical trader and a chemical raw material distributor?

Gimondi: “Our main business is trading, but we also act as chemical raw material distributor for some products. As traders, we organise shipments directly from the supplier to our customers. As chemical raw material distributor, we first store material in our warehouses all over Europe (Bergamo, Marghera, Trieste, Antwerp, Hamburg and Barcelona), then we divide them in smaller batches and send them to our customers. Of course, these operations have higher management costs, but they also allow us to always have a product to be quickly shipped to our customers when they need it.”

What are the main markets?

Gimondi: “Our raw materials are mostly used in plastic products and coatings. Our clients produce technical paints, resin (including polyester, phenolic, alkyd, epoxy), Polyurethanes, industrial and non-industrial adhesives, films, rubbers, plastic compounds and thermoplastic materials.”

What are your specialties?

Gimondi: “We sell both commodities (low price raw material in big volumes) and specialties. Specialties are very specific products like catalysts or monomers and special intermediates. These products have low volume but higher value. Some of our specialties are Isophthalic acid, Adipic acid, Butanediol, Hexanediol, MPG, plasticizers such as ATBC and ESBO, Zinc Oxide, Ammonium Polyphosphate, CHDM, PMA, Acrylates. 

We recently added new catalysts (MBTO, DOTO, DBTL) to our specialties.”

What makes you proud the most of your trading company?

Gimondi:Tecnosintesi was founded in 2005 with the goal of “having fun and not losing money”. We can proudly say that both targets were met every year!”

The market.
Were there difficult years for the chemical trading market? And is today’s market good?

Gimondi: “The chemical sector is subject to the economic cycles, just like any other sector. The years after the 2008 crisis were difficult due to the drop in global demand. Fortunately there was a big growth after the crisis and the market is still doing fine today. The past year (2019) was difficult for the European market, mostly because of the slowing down of the automotive sector in the second half of the year. Also global uncertainties such as Brexit and the trade war between the US and China have a negative effect on international trading. Tecnosintesi always diversifies its business to minimize the effect of a specific sector slowing down.”