Constant investment in research and innovation has been the driving force which helped Ikem stay ahead in a market that has been subject to prejudice for centuries.
“Chemicals for the tanning market had a bad image in the past, but this is not true anymore for the modern generation of products. We focus strongly on natural raw materials from renewable plant sources. At the moment, we are carrying out tests on a new product line of biopolymer fatliquors. We care about the environment and work hard so that our products and our production have as little impact as possible on the environment,” says Commercial and Technical Director Enrico Stefani, himself the second generation of the Stefani family.
It was Mr. Stefani’s father and his two brothers who founded Stefani Chimis back in 1978. The year 2013 marked a milestone in the company’s development, as Stefani Chimis and Leder Chimica, a family company founded in 1986, joined forces. The merger resulted in an extension of the two portfolios under the new Ikem brand.
“The motive behind the merger was quite simple: We aimed to increase our productivity. We had not been competitors, but the new structure enabled us to realize many products in-house,” explains Mr. Stefani. Recently the Stefani family incorporated all of the shares into Ikem.
Today, Ikem, with its main brands Lektra, Modern, Venice Chemicals and Stefani Chimis, is a stronghold in wet-end products, including fatliquoring agents, retanning agents and dyestuffs. Its finishing line was introduced later and is currently gaining momentum.
Among Ikem’s long-standing customers are shoe, leatherwear and furniture manufacturers; however, the company is investing in building up a reputation in automotive manufacturing.
“We started working for this segment some time ago, but it requires some preparation, as here you are dealing with a highly complex sector. We are going to invest in new possibilities which are opening up right now,” states Mr. Stefani.
Ikem’s list of innovations features new products and projects. At Lineapelle, the international leather fair, in Milan two years ago, the company first presented a new tanned leather called Natural White, which is metal-free and made from natural and renewable sources and which received positive feedback.
Another milestone in Ikem’s attempts to implement an environmentally friendly approach is its project ‘Green Life: Green Leather Industry for the Environment’, which it has initiated in cooperation with five companies to strengthen a green attitude in its industry. Ikem is determined to push environmental protection and invest in appropriate solutions. Its future is definitely green.