Pantheon Enterprises is a company that develops, manufacturers, and commercializes green chemical technologies in several different industries. Says co-founder and CEO Laura Roberts, “Our mission is creating chemistry that’s safer, that works better, and when it’s done doing its job, is benign and doesn’t leave a chemical footprint.”
Laura Roberts assumed leadership of the company in the late 1990s when her father died unexpectedly and she suddenly found herself competing with dot-com start-ups for capital. Under her leadership, the company automated operations, refined its marketing and developed technologies including metal-working fluids, cleaning products, and lubricants. After some success in sporting goods and other markets, Pantheon launched a major disruptive product into the aerospace industry, which ultimately led to the creation of a new industry standard.
“That motivated us to see this vision of commercializing a product and getting widespread commercial adoption of it,” Roberts says. “Yes, we had to be really good at innovation and scaling manufacture and production, but we also had to be good at getting it adopted. You may create something that’s a holy grail for an industry and solves a lot of its problems, but that doesn’t mean it will be easily adopted.”
Getting innovative products adopted involves more than meeting practical needs. Pantheon is currently working on green chemicals for agriculture, disinfectants, and consumer goods, among others; using chemistry that breaks down, doesn’t stay in the environment or enter our bodies, and also limits water usage. But much of its work has required adherence to policies around commercial, military, and global engineering requirements. There, the company found that the heavy influence of legacy industries on existing policies poses challenges to innovative, green industries. Pantheon realized that effecting policy change involves many layers and types of decision makers.
Pantheon’s involvement with ASBC began with a fortuitous connection. “We were working with some consultants who had helped us for several years on strategy and alignment,” Roberts says. “They knew about ASBC, and one day, they suggested they set up a call. I had an initial conversation with ASBC and a lot of dots connected. I learned there was a big group of people out there committed to a lot of the same things we were committed to, and that collaborating could expedite our work.”
Along with its interest in chemical reform and water issues, Roberts says “it would be great to collaborate to make sure government takes into account how fast disinfectants work, what waste they leave behind, etc., to minimize environmental impact and avoid creating superbugs.” The company also sees opportunities to improve sustainability within the chemicals industry; specifically by addressing the amount of resources their products consume or the waste they create.
“I see a lot of exciting possibilities in working together, not only in areas that impact our company, but in areas that impact the chemical industry as a whole,” Roberts said. “Sustainability – both of the chemical industry and how chemicals are used -- has always been the big value I’ve been rooted in. We’re committed to conscious capitalism; operating with a higher purpose.”
Roberts said she’s looking forward to thought leadership, working with policymakers in Congress and the states, and most of all, to heightening public awareness of these issues. “So many of these problems are still invisible to the consumer, and I think consumers can make a difference." Fortunately, companies like Pantheon already are.