Hitting the Right Notes

January 6, 2017

Agilex Fragrances is the leader in the middle market fragrance category.

Middle seat, middle child, stuck in the middle—all of them have negative connotations. But the fragrance middle market? That’s the sweet spot for Agilex Fragrances. This Piscataway, NJ-based fragrance company creates custom fragrances for four segments, air care, home care, personal care, and industrial and institutional products.

And business is soaring, with annual growth exceeding the market, according to president and CEO Raymond Hughes.

“Our customers like the personal contact we can provide,” he told Happi. “We have large company resources with small company values.”

Company executives maintain that their success is built on four pillars: 
• Versatile perfume creation; 
• Novel technology solutions; 
• Comprehensive regulatory support; and
• Industry-leading supply chain performance.

To keep up with demand, sometime during the first half of 2017, Agilex will begin operations at its new 60,000 square foot plant in Franklin Township, NJ. The site will feature automated compounding technology and flexible manufacturing processes to support the needs of its diverse customer base, according to Kevin Gilbert, senior VP-finance and operations. 

“This investment ensures that we have the infrastructure in place to maintain our performance metrics,” explained Gilbert. “As the business continues to grow, we are capable of expanding to three shifts, seven days a week, to meet demand.” 

Those metrics include an average lead time of just five days with 98% on-time shipping and 99.8% right -first-time manufacturing, according to the company. 

The opening of the new facility consolidates Agilex’s manufacturing capabilities in the US. The company also produces fragrances in Zhaoquing, China. The creative center and headquarters in Piscataway, NJ completes the list of locations where Agilex has facilities. The company has made several acquistions since January 2014. Most recently, Agilex acquired Creative Fragrances Ltd., Dallas, TX in mid-November. 

According to Hughes, the latest transaction enlarges Agilex’s presence in certain US regions and makes the product line available to a brand new group of fragrance clients.

The investment in a new production plant underscores the company’s long-term commitment to the markets it serves. Agilex was formally established in 2007 as a result of a private equity rollup of mature flavor and fragrance companies including AromaTech, International Fragrance & Technology, Technology Flavors & Fragrances, Key Essentials, FlavorSource and Western Flavors & Fragrances. The flavor business was sold to Kerry Ingredients in 2010. 

Since December 2012, Agilex Fragrances has been part of the portfolio of companies owned by MidOcean Partners. The current management team, which has decades of experience at companies such as Unilever and Revlon, as well as some of the global flavor and fragrance companies, has been at the helm for three years and during that time, Agilex has continued to grow through new business, bolt-on acquisitions and expansion of existing business. 

“People are talking about Agilex,” noted Tony Trinco, senior VP, marketing and business development. “We’ve elevated our presence since 2013 and now we are taking it to another level.”

A level of service and technical ability that is so high the company’s management says they are comfortable competing against the Big 4 in fragrance.

“Agilex is state-of-the-art, which ensures that we win more than we lose,”  Trinco insisted.

A Passionate Process

No matter what businesses get added or what facilities get opened, fragrance development is at the heart of Agilex’s operations, stressed Heather Adams, senior director, fragrance development.  

“We’re passionate about what we do. We’re always sharing ideas about fragrance,” she explained. “There are no silos; it’s a creative collaboration and every customer has a team working for them.”

During the development process, for example, Agilex researchers get their inspiration from a variety of sources including food, social trends and new raw materials. From all this consumer-based research, the Agilex team has uncovered several emerging trends.

“We’re bringing back cucumber notes!” Adams promised.

Taking it a step(s) further, the Agilex team conducts “Trend Treks” to New York City several times a year, or whenever a customer requests one; all in an effort to find the next big thing in product perfumery.

Comprehensive Support

To create those next trends in fragrance, Agilex has five perfumers and six evaluators on staff and a full service regulatory department, said Natalie Kuhles, senior vice president, creative services. 

“The research and development, and applications laboratories provide full technical support,” she explained. “We formed our regulatory department in 2009 and are now deeply involved with supporting our clients to ensure their fragrances meet all the appropriate regulatory requirements.  We also serve as a resource to make sure we keep current on the ever-changing regulatory landscape and to field any questions they may have on emerging issues.”

All of these services have created new business opportunities. During the past couple of years, Agilex has made good gains in personal care segments including shampoo and body wash. At the same time, sales to the laundry care category have surged. That being said, if you haven’t evaluated Agilex fragrances in your air care application, then you might have missed an opportunity.

Proprietary Technology

Creating winning fragrances is one thing; delivering them effectively is another. Agilex also has a full pipeline of proprietary technologies in its Scentech portfolio. For example, AromaGel is a patent-pending oil-based fragrance matrix that provides controlled linear fragrance release. According to Agilex, AromaGel is crystal clear and can be colored. It works well with all fragrance types and is sold as a ready-to-use scented gel for both consumer and industrial applications.

The company’s patented AquaFuse fragrance technology can solubilize unprecedented fragrance levels (up to 18%) in water. According to Agilex, AquaFuse is clean, safe and ethanol-free and gives a truer fragrance impression with almost no solvent odor. It can be used in passive or active wicking systems, room/refresher sprays and any other applications that require high levels of fragrance oil in water. 

MetaGel is a patented air-freshening gel matrix that can be heavily loaded with up to 80% fragrance. The gel is produced without heat, eliminating heat-related fragrance loss during manufacturing. It is non-thermal reversible, very effective at scenting small spaces and can be used in both active and passive systems, according to the company.

Finally, AromaReed is a “ready-to-use,” highly fragrant aromatic home scent. It incorporates specially formulated fragrance solutions designed for excellent character translation and maximum cold throw.

“We are a fragrance company with excellent delivery systems,” noted Kuhles.

From market research, to fragrance development and evaluation, production and regulatory services, Agilex executives say they offer turnkey solutions for middle market companies. 

“Agilex is a hidden gem in the industry,” Hughes insisted.

But as quickly as Agilex is expanding, for Hughes and his team, the long-term goals remain simple: “I want to be the preferred creative partner for our customers, the preferred customer for our suppliers, and the preferred employer for the fragrance industry.”

A position that will keep Agilex Fragrances right in the middle of all the action for years.