New Mexico Small Business Assistance: Solving small business challenges through laboratory expertise SUBMIT request for assistance NMSBA Los Alamos National Laboratory Sandias National Laboratory

Client Highlights

"NMSBA proved instrumental in KemKey getting started, and Sandia was a great partner—I am not sure what we could have done without them."

Transfer fittings have always been a problem in the chemical industry because they all look the same. Due to such similarities, accidents can happen. Such an accident took place recently when a truck driver inadvertently connected the truck’s tank, which contained bleach, to a company’s holding tank, which contained sulfuric acid. The resultant reaction spewed chlorine gas, injuring seven people and
triggering a warning to area residents about the noxious vapors.

After years in the chemical industry, Randy Brown knew well the hazards associated with transfer fittings and came up with the idea for distinct types of fittings, color-coded to specific chemicals. The approach is similar to precautions taken with electricity—it isn’t possible to put a 110-volt plug into a 220-volt outlet or vice versa.

After he filed a patent in 2012, Brown realized that he needed technical help to make his prototype fittings a reality, but didn’t know where to find it. He was relieved when a potential investor pointed him to NMSBA.

NMSBA connected Brown with Juan Romero at Sandia National Laboratories. Romero applied his expertise in three-dimensional modeling to help Brown develop the transfer fittings prototypes, validate the designs, and make further improvements.

KemKey is now selling its transfer fittings, and its first customer is the PublicService Company of New Mexico. Revenues are increasing, and the company projects 20 times more revenue in 2015 than in 2014 and predicts at least four new full-time positions will be created.