Booming Drone Market Offers Niche for Plastics-Maker EMS-Chemie

  • CEO sees potential in making load-bearing frames for drones
  • Global drone market is growing 20 percent every year, EMS says

EMS-Chemie Holding AG, the Swiss supplier of resins to General Motors Co., is turning its attention to the rapidly expanding market for commercial drones and its need for lightweight and robust materials to make chassis and other parts, Chief Executive Officer Magdalena Martullo-Blocher said in an interview.

QuickTake Domesticating Drones

Used for delivering parcels to oil-rig inspections, there are about 5 million drones or unmanned aerial vehicles worldwide - and the UAV market is growing by 20 percent each year, according to the Herrliberg, Switzerland-based company.

“This is just the beginning. We won’t dive in and deploy 5 million drones, but a million to 2 million would be of interest to us,” Martullo-Blocher said in an interview in Zurich. “We are monitoring how things develop.”

Regulation as well as technological advances in commercial drone development will also influence the direction and development of the market, Martullo-Blocher said: “It’s still difficult to say how big the market will be, but we have made a start and the potential is there.”


EMS-Chemie is also looking at small acquisitions to expand their portfolio of technologies.

“We’re looking at several companies or divisions of companies, but they are smaller companies with sales below 100 million Swiss francs ($100 million),” said Martullo-Blocher, who last year won a seat in Switzerland’s lower-house.

“With companies in the plastics industry, which are selling business units or merging, you’ll often find they sell specialized businesses - that’s interesting for us,” she said.

Last week, EMS-Chemie reported earnings before interest and taxes of 469 million Swiss francs for 2015, ahead of analysts’ estimates. It said operating income in 2016 is expected to end up ‘slightly’ higher than the prior year.

“Usually that’s a few percent above the previous year,” Martullo-Blocher said.

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