A Conversation with…Madylon and Dean Meiling, Chemeon
In 2013, Madylon and Dean Meiling became owners of Metalast, a Nevada-based supplier of chemistries for the plating industry. They have since changed the name toChemeon Surface Technology. Madylon, the president and CEO, is a Ph.D. with more than 15 years of experience as a corporate consultant and executive coach, specializing in leadership development. Dean retired as managing director of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), a fixed income investment management company with $1.2 trillion in third-party assets under management.
PF: Neither of you have a background in electroplating or finishing. What led you to get into the business?
MM: We strongly believed in the licensed, patented and proprietary chemistries, scientists, and potential for success of Metalast LLC and were investors in the company. Sadly, the founder squandered other people’s money and eventually led the company to insolvency. In April 2013, a court-appointed Receiver reported that approximately 1,000 members of the LLC had contributed more than $95 million, the accumulated losses exceeded $119 million, and the accounts payable to its vendors, landlord, suppliers, and employees totaled nearly $1 million. On November 4, 2013, the Court approved a sale of all Metalast LLC assets to us, as the secured creditor. Although we entered this industry with limited experience in surface technology, we are successful entrepreneurs and leaders in business, and were confident that the chemical experience of the company’s scientists, sales team, and operations team, combined with their expertise and passion for its products and technical services, would enable us to expand and excel. Included in the sale was exclusive ownership of all Metalast company history and trade secrets, including chemistries, products, services, contacts, customer and distributor information, licenses, contracts, copyrights, product marks, and logos. We particularly embraced our trademarked chemistries and changed our name to ChemeonSurface Technology to eliminate confusion between the company’s new leadership and values, and the former management.
PF: Your company says it will focus on environmentally responsible corrosion resistant coatings. Is this born from a professional or personal emphasis?
DM: We have always supported organizations that are focused on improving the environment such as The Nature Conservancy and The Tahoe Fund. Chemeon Surface Technology has a choice in what we develop and provide to the public, and as a specialty chemical company, our vision is to be a leader in environmentally responsible coatings and surface technologies, committed to research, development, customer service and solutions. We are currently focused on leading a significant campaign to remove carcinogenic hexavalent chromates from the environment and replace them with our Trivalent Chrome and Zero Chrome solutions. This year, we are planning to present the first Chemeon CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Award to a company that is replacing hexavalent chrome in all of its US plants with Chemeon TCP-HF.
PF: What is the plan for expanding your global operations to new markets?
MM: Our plan for expansion is focused on Chemeon values for integrity, transparency, collaboration, and innovation. As a WOSB, we are investing resources in critical research and development to continuously provide cutting edge technologies to the surface engineering industry. Our technical center has discovered new markets for existing products, as well developing new chemistries. We are currently working on improved no-chrome solutions as well as other needed chemistries for magnesium, zinc nickel, cadmium and more.
PF: You were both named the Community Philanthropists of the Year in Lake Tahoe. What motivates you to give back?
MM: We are blessed to have had successful careers and live in Lake Tahoe, a community that thrives on and appreciates personal and corporate social responsibility. We believe that giving back is a both a privilege and a responsibility. We founded Pet Network Humane Society, and Lake Tahoe SummerFest, and continue to support the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation and other non-profit organizations. Additionally, we intend to donate a percentage of revenue generated from the sale of Chemeon TCP-HF, used to replace carcinogenic hexavalent chrome, to a non-profit organization related to research on lung disease, which has been significantly linked to hexavalent chrome in our environment.
PF: Dean’s experience at PIMCO certainly prepared him for the world of surface coatings, but how is it similar and dissimilar?
DM: Chemistry and financial investments are different worlds, but strong financial principles are guiding how Chemeon is currently being operated. We are free of debt and have achieved high credit ratings with our partners. The company is profitable and we are expanding our markets, trademarked chemistries and customer solutions.
PF: What did you want to be when you grew up?
MM: I have always wanted to make a difference in our world, and am still on that journey. I believe that working within our industry to remove hazardous chemicals from the environment and replace them with environmentally safe products is part of my mission.
DM: Given my aptitude for math, I concluded during college that a career in finance would be a good fit and always challenging.
Q: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
MM: My first job was teaching 6th grade and I learned that I loved facilitating educational experiences that inspired a student’s natural passion for learning.
DM: As a preteen, my first job was whitewashing dairy barns. It taught me the importance of being a dependable team player.
PF: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?
MM: My first car was a 1966 Volvo, and my dream car is a red Ferrari 1963 250 short wheelbase.
DM: My first car was a big Pontiac, and now I love small sports cars. My dream car is a McLaren.
PF: What’s the best piece of advice you were given, either personally or professionally, and who gave it to you?
MM: My mother told me that I could do anything if I worked hard and focused on my education. I have been a life-long learner, and am currently learning about chemistry and surface finishing.
DM: A colleague at PIMCO highlighted the benefits of pursuing multiple, independent strategies at all times because the world is so uncertain. This advice has served me well.
Originally published in the July 2015 issue.