International Update

Our International Story – Energenics

31 January 2022 #International Update

Our International Story is where SMMT interviews members on their international business journey. This month, we hear about Energenics’ story from Mike Attfield, CEO.


Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Energenics.

I have been the CEO of Energenics since 2009, having joined the organisation 2 years earlier. I started my career as industrial research chemist and have spent many years in the fuel and lubricant additive industry, working previously for BP and Lubrizol. Over time I have taken on commercial development and business leadership roles but never lost my excitement for the science underpinning the products.


Tell us more about Energenics and its products
Energenics is a speciality chemicals business that started as a spin out from Oxford University in the field of nanotechnology and is based at their Begbroke Science Park. Our core product Envirox™ which is manufactured in the UK is based on nano cerium oxide, a highly active Fuel Borne Catalyst. When dosed into diesel fuel it makes soot burn at lower temperatures which helps Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) to regenerate as well as lowering harmful emissions and improving fuel economy. Envirox™ is trusted by leading aftermarket brands around the world to deliver performance in fuel treatments and on-board fluids for DPF Regeneration. We also offer a range of water based nano catalyst coatings called Envirox™ CatCoat for treating DPF substrates when manufactured or cleaned to improve their in-service performance. Finally outside the automotive sector, we have recently developed an innovative wood treatment which preserves the natural appearance of new wood used outdoors for extended periods.


How did Energenics get started exporting?
The fuel and lubricant additive industry is truly international in nature, as are the automotive and oil industries it serves. There was always an intention for our business to export from the outset as the export volumes are needed to help pay back the investment in both developing the nanotechnology that underpins our products and generating the supporting test data. Also, it is right that the environment benefits arising from the use of our products should be made available worldwide.

Our approach to exports has been centred on finding trusted local distributor partners who are well positioned in our market sectors in each target country, and over time we have built up enduring relationships. However in some cases, where appropriate, we make direct export sales to the final customer overseas – these tend to begin with sales enquiries to our website from countries where we do not have a local representative. Over time our approach has been successful such that over 40% of our sales in 2021 were from exports.


Has doing business internationally changed the company in any way?
Doing international business for the long term ensures that we maintain an outward looking focus and readiness to adapt to local market requirements. It positively affects our company culture as it forces us to maintain a global outlook and respect other countries and the differences in their cultures and styles of working. Furthermore, it means we are well placed to see new opportunities emerging in our market sectors – it is not safe to assume everything begins in the UK. I believe it makes our business a good place to work for our staff from overseas.


What are your future plans?
In the automotive area our plans are to expand in response to the opportunities that arise through the adoption of Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) in global markets. Presently we have a particular focus on China and India following the introduction of the latest emissions standards – China 6 and Bharat Stage 6 respectively.


As an SME how have you managed to develop international sales?
The significant steps forward have arisen from taking part in international trade exhibitions, most notably Automechanika Shanghai as part of the UK Pavilion organised by the SMMT. We exhibited for 5 consecutive years before the pandemic and the relationships we developed through our repeated attendance created a foothold in this market. Our main success to date in mainland China has been with our nano catalyst coating for DPFs rather than our fuel additives which was the original objective. This demonstrates the importance of understanding local market conditions and being responsive and fast footed in creating the right offerings. Although the focus is on mainland China, Automechanika Shanghai also provided us with the initial contacts for developing export sales into other Asian markets, notably Japan and Taiwan. To support our customers’ growth in these markets we translated our public educational website for DPF additives into each of the main languages spoken in mainland China and Taiwan (

In general, we place great value on our international business relationships and always take the time to respond well to new overseas sales leads. Given the technical nature of our product offerings it is a prerequisite that our international customers and distributors understand enough of the key advantages to be successful with our products in their local markets. Where appropriate we have not been slow to visit new sales leads in person and start building those personal trust relationships that are so important for long term success. This aspect of my role is something I particularly enjoy.


How has Covid affected your international growth plans?
The main impact has been the disruption to international travel such that it has not been possible to attend trade exhibitions or make customer visits in person. However, as the disruption has been mutual globally, I think it has led to a willingness to consider video conferencing as an acceptable substitute in a way not possible previously. Since the start of the first lockdown we have managed to gain 2 new significant EU customers without ever meeting them face to face which is a significant change from the past. This is a welcome development in international business culture from the carbon reduction point of view.

There have been challenges to our manufacturing supply chain due to shortages and delays but we have been able to maintain deliveries to our international customers throughout and thankfully the demand for our products has remained steady.

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