Cerion Nanomaterials thrives in Rochester


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The ability to custom design, scale-up, and manufacture nanomaterials for unique applications has helped Cerion Nanomaterials build a thriving business in Rochester.

CEO Landon Mertz discussed the company’s expertise and growth Wednesday during our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation.

“Cerion is one of the largest companies here in the United States for the design, the scale-up, and the manufacturing of nanomaterials,” Mertz said. “What we do is we focus on making nanoparticles – traditionally metal, metal oxides, and ceramics – at sizes that are typically smaller than 1-20th the width of a strand of DNA. When these materials get very small in size they start to exhibit unique behaviors that you wouldn’t otherwise see in bulk form. So, as an example, an aluminum soda can is completely inert but if you made that into nanoparticles it’s highly explosive. And so what you’re doing with nanomaterials is you’re leveraging these kinds of bizarre and unique behaviors to create new performance and products. As a company ourselves, we don’t make products. What we do is provide advanced access and expertise to nanomaterials for companies that are working with nanomaterials and leveraging them to get a new competitive advantage performance out of their product. And so for the most part our customers tend to be very large multinational businesses and we cover companies across the United States and Europe.”

Mertz explained Cerion’s work is for next-generation products that have yet to be rolled out so the company is rarely able to discuss its clients openly.

Rochester has been the perfect location for Cerion to grow its business. “For us, at Cerion it was three things,” said Mertz. “The first was people. What drew us here initially was the area’s deep history in material science. No surprise here – that’s due to Kodak’s presence in Rochester throughout the decades. And because we make nanomaterials through chemical processes the talent base here in the local area is absolutely bar none. The second was facilities. When you’re just a small startup, which we were 14 years ago, every dollar counts. And so what we were able to do is leverage facilities that were at Kodak that we would otherwise have had to invest in quite heavily to create ourselves. And so what this allowed us to do was to stay focused on what we do best and that is making materials. And for any young company, especially in material science, the Kodak facilities really are an incredible resource that’s difficult to find or replicate elsewhere in the country. And then the third was economics. We attract talent from all around the country and the cost of living in Rochester – relative to other markets – really is quite reasonable and it’s also a very family-friendly town which is important to most of our new employees.”

Mertz said Cerion has an ongoing need for new employees. “It is across the board,” he said of the need. “We hire a lot of Ph.D. material scientists and chemical engineers. We’ve been making significant investments into our marketing operation and more generally speaking our business functions as we continue to grow. People can go to our website – cerionnano.com – to check out what roles are available, but generally speaking, it is across the board growth and hiring.”

WEB EXTRA: Mertz explains what’s on the horizon for Cerion Nanomaterials:

To learn more about Greater Rochester Enterprise, visit RochesterBiz.com.

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