Envera’s Biotechnology Makes For A Greener, More Sustainable Philadelphia Region

Andrea Van Grinsven, for GPA -- Philadelphia has been lauded for it’s commitment to sustainability and labeled as a “hotspot” for biotechnology and the suburbs are no exception.

Envera, a biotechnology company in West Chester, increases the region’s reputation for sustainability as the city works towards Mayor Nutter’s goal for Philadelphia to become the greenest and most ecological city in America.

Envera grows spore-forming bacteria cultures that serve as the active ingredient in agricultural, consumer, industrial and wastewater treatment products. Biotechnology such as Envera’s provides a way to reduce waste without the use of harsh chemicals because the bacteria it uses eats waste.

The bacteria’s use extends far beyond waste reduction: it protects plants, resulting in higher crop yields, and minimizes the antibiotics used in animal feed.

“We have the ability to take that one microbiotics lab and mix and match,” said Michael Matheny, Envera’s President, of the variety of forms and applications the products can take.

The sustainability of biotechnology gives Envera an advantage, especially in the winter months. The region’s cold winter weather is a common challenge for wastewater treatment plants, but Envera’s bacteria are actually adapted to the cold.

“We’re harnessing that magic of nature,” Matheny said.

Matheny also commented that the environmentally-friendly nature of Envera’s products helps the company’s business when regulations inevitably catch up to the industry.

Envera’s new building in West Chester reflects the company’s commitment to sustainability. The property was originally a hosiery mill, built in 1930. Envera bought and refurbished the property when the company relocated from Coatesville. Envera’s location is proof that Philadelphia’s activeness in repurposing buildings extends throughout the entire region.

The repurposing of the building took from May to November of 2011. Matheny acknowledged that the West Goshen Township was very cooperative with zoning. He believes that this was, in part, because the town wanted to see biotech, which he describes as a “hidden market,” grow in the region.

35 percent of Envera’s sales are international, and the company hopes to push for more in the future. The company’s products are used on every continent except for Antarctica. Matheny estimated that Asia and Europe are the company’s strongest markets, and Australia and South America are the weakest.

Since Envera is an active ingredient supplier, rather than the producer of the finished product, the company sells on a consulting basis and is dedicated to supporting their customers’ sales.

To find markets, both domestically and abroad, Envera relies on word-of-mouth. The company prefers to focus on quality, time, and customer service instead of advertising. “We stay focused on the technology and let others do the sales and marketing while we focus on what we’re good at,” said Matheny.

Envera’s staff is a mix of local and global employees. The company employs graduates from nearby universities like Drexel University, Temple University and West Chester University, but also has personnel from Lithuania and Thailand. Each international staff member was already a U.S. citizen when they were hired but Matheny mentioned that the company might look to sponsor H1-B visas in the future.

Photo courtesy of Envera.