Waste to Profit: Expanding Our Resources
Sandy Selman, of Asia West LLC, was recently named a winner of Acquisition International’s 2013 Business Excellence Award, for non-executive board members. The award celebrates people who have shown the greatest strength amid on-going economic uncertainty. When asked about the award, Mr. Selman expressed surprise, “I had no idea I’d been nominated!" he said, adding, "I'm very pleased with the recognition."
Among other things, Mr. Selman has made a career of finding, investing in and advising companies that turn resources no one wants into valuable commodities. One of the companies he is currently working with, e-Leather Ltd., takes tannery scraps and turns them into leather products without glue or adhesives. The product, which is shipped on huge rolls, is currently used by 65 airlines globally, including SouthWest and Jet Blue.
Southwest is toting their new, eco-friendly seating as having the added benefit of being 40% lighter than natural leather, which means saving fuel. “It’s a great product,” Mr. Selman said, “You get all the same performance and aesthetics as natural leather, but with superior durability.”
Mr. Selman has been working to help e-Leather develop a long term strategy for ramping up to meet a much larger demand and scale the business globally.
Another of Mr. Selman’s companies is Mobius Technologies, Inc., which takes scrap polyurethane foam and grinds it into an engineered powder, which is in turn used as part of the glue in oriented strand board (OSB), an engineered wood board formed by layering strands (flakes) of wood. A popular replacement for plywood in many applications, it is used throughout the construction industry.
The challenge for Mobius Technologies has been securing needed growth capital in a difficult fundraising environment. Mr. Selman has been helping the company complete financing options with a London based investor.
As for the future, Mr. Selman continues to see great growth opportunities in SouthEast Asia for Bio- and agra-based businesses. He is currently combining his extensive experience in these markets with his business advisory skills to build unique value for the companies that he advises. “We’re looking at Singapore,” he said. “What I bring to the table is finding the right people to help these markets grow.”
He is looking for additional opportunities in the United States.
“I really like helping companies bridge that gap between innovation and implementation.” He concluded. “I worry that the United States has lost its competitive edge. It’s still a tough job environment, which means a lot of people out there are scared to make decisions, scared that they might jeopardize the job they have. But there’s a lot to be done and I like the challenges I see ahead.”