Adversity often breeds opportunity, and Robert James took full advantage of just such a situation in 1997 when he bought back the company his father William had started, but sold to an investor seven years earlier. Initially founded in 1969 as Aeroflow Industries, the company focused on manufacturing oil free air compressors. By 1990, the market had been saturated by discounted oil-free compressors and the company was sold.
Sensing an impending dramatic shift in the market, Robert bought back the company when he saw future potential. Renamed Hycomp, Robert immediately expanded company product lines to include production of air boosters and gas compressors, with an emphasis on nitrogen compressors.
After the company moved to new facilities in 2004 with the aid of an SBA 504 loan, Hycomp continued to expand, growing from an initial 3 employees in 1997 to 55 employees today. A major component of the company’s expansion has been its penetration into international markets with the assistance of an SBA-guaranteed Export Express Loan from Zions Bank.
Today, Hycomp has a business presence in over 40 countries and the company has specialty compressors on every continent except Antartica. From 2011 to 2012, Hycomp’s international sales nearly tripled, and from 2012 to 2013, its global projects increased by 41 percent. During 2012, over 46 percent of the company’s total revenue was produced through product exports in support of multiple industries including aerospace, gas production, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, nuclear power production and others.
After being reacquired from its former owner, Hycomp has been transformed by Robert James to become one of only two companies in the U.S involved in large-scale, high-end manufacturing of oil-free air and gas compressors. However, Robert’s interests are not solely focused on running his company.
Robert James rallies his employees to be involved in community causes. When employees banded together to raise money for Japanese tsunami victims, Hycomp then matched the total amount collected dollar for dollar. James spearheaded a similar fundraising effort to benefit a local family whose home burned down. James is also captain of Hycomp’s Relay for Life team that raises money to benefit the American Cancer Society.
Robert James has ‘rescued’ the company his father founded and successfully expanded its product portfolio through a major exporting emphasis.