New owners change Fontarome’s name

Fontarome Chemical Inc. is now Apiscent Labs.

The name change comes after SFM Investments LLC acquired the assets of the St. Francis-based flavor, fragrance and pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer out of receivership in April.

Patrick McComis and Joe Froehlich lead SFM. The new company needed to change the name of the manufacturer in the transaction, McComis said.

“I’m a real team leadership style, so I really reached out to our employee base to choose a new name for the company,” McComis said.

The name Apiscent represents the processes the company completes: Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, scents, and research and development.

Fontarome had a long history in Milwaukee. It was founded in 1978 in Grasse, France, and established its U.S. operations in the early 1980s in St. Francis.

Fontarome’s parent company purchased St. Francis-based Wixon and started Fontarome as a subsidiary of Wixon. The company was known as Wixon Fontarome in the U.S. until the early 1990s, when they became sister companies. Then the companies separated in 2004.

Fontarome entered receivership in January.

Since SFM acquired the assets on April 18, Froehlich and McComis have been busy. They established the new name and a logo to go with it, and hired 13 new employees, bringing total employment to 45.

“We’re not tied to our past, we’re pilots of our future,” McComis said. “Our focus with those hires was really focusing on increasing our production. Our sales right now are outpacing our production capabilities.”

By the end of summer, McComis expects Apiscent will have 55 employees. The plan now is to add key leadership employees as the company ramps up production.

“Our goal three to five years out is to actually add a second facility,” McComis said. “We think that in one to three years, we’ll be able to increase production to basically capacity. Our goal then is to look for a second production facility, preferably in the St. Francis area.”

Apiscent currently has two buildings at its St. Francis campus. A 50,000-square-foot building houses production and administration, while a 30,000-square-foot building is home to research and development and warehouse space.

“We’re just really excited with how things are going,” McComis said. “New employees we’re bringing on board are really excited about the opportunity that’s there, and the amount of activity that we’ve had going on and the investment in staff and infrastructure and technology, it’s exciting. It’s a really exciting environment.”

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