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Compliance firm opens in US
14 March 2010 By Gavin Daly

An Irish firm that helps companies to meet the requirements of a range of legislation is expanding into the US after an upsurge in business last year.

H2 Compliance has opened an office in New York and has appointed Grant Kinsman, a former senior executive at HP, as chief executive. H2 was founded in 2006 by chemists John Hayes and Kevin Hoban, who saw a business opportunity arising from a new EU law that required firms to register details of all the chemicals they used in making their products.

Companies can face large fines and their directors can face prison if they do not comply with the Reach regulation, which is overseen by the European Chemicals Agency. In Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority carries out checks on firms to ensure compliance.

Hayes said that H2 had worked with almost 100 companies which are using ‘‘multiples of hundreds of chemicals’’ in their businesses. They include well-known blue chip names in the pharmaceuticals, medical devices, IT and chemicals sectors.

Kinsman said that revenues at H2 rose by 44 per cent last year and it was on track to become ‘‘a multi-million euro business’’. It is expanding its services beyond Reach compliance and helping companies to comply with other legislation, ranging from environmental and hazardous substances laws to the Weee directive, which governs the disposal of electrical goods.

‘‘The company was founded on Reach and it is the backbone of the business, but we have added in other pieces and are rapidly broadening our portfolio of services. There are a lot of opportunities to grow," said Kinsman, who worked for HP for 23 years and was part of the team that set up the original HP manufacturing facility in Ireland.

In particular, Kinsman said that H2 could establish itself in ‘‘product stewardship’’, where it would work with companies to ensure they complied with various laws and regulations through the entire life-cycle of a product. The product stewardship concept is becoming popular, partly as a way of ensuring that the environmental impact of making a product is kept to a minimum.

Kinsman described the opening of H2’sUS office as a ‘‘giant step’’ that meant the firm could be close to its American customers. ‘‘About 90 to 95 per cent of our clients are US-based companies, and they like to deal with someone in the US," he said.

H2 now has eight specialised staff, including one in the recently-opened New York office.

Kinsman said the company would keep expanding in Ireland and abroad. ‘‘It won’t be long before we need to hire someone on the west coast [of America]," he said.

However, he said that H2 would move into other markets, such as China and India, through deals with local companies, rather than opening several offices overseas. ‘‘We plan to use a partnership model to take us around the globe," said Kinsman.

As a spin-off from its work on Reach, H2 has developed its own software, which catalogues all the paperwork involved in the ‘‘very document intensive’’ process. ‘‘We have seen paperwork stacked floor to ceiling in companies.

Now, at the press of a button, every piece of information on every chemical they use is available in one place," said Hayes.

He said that H2 planned to license the software to other companies in the sector at home and overseas. The EU’s Reach legislation now has ‘‘siblings all over the world’’, with countries such as Switzerland and Korea introducing new laws for chemicals, Hayes said.

‘‘That means that the knock on effects of non-compliance will be felt worldwide. We are hearing of Customs officers requesting Reach documentation before letting shipments into their country. If a company is out of compliance in one jurisdiction, it could see its products held up or even taken off the market worldwide," said Hayes.

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