The Silicon Review
“HZO protects electronics from the most demanding environments with world-class nanocoatings to enable a better, more durable product.”
Water, sweat, humidity, dust, and dirt can easily damage sensitive circuitry found in everything from smartphones to cars, water meters to medical devices. HZO is a global leader in delivering world-class protective nanocoatings that safeguard electronics to deliver a better, more reliable and more durable water resistant and waterproof product.
HZO has a proven track record of serving Fortune 100 organizations around the globe, leveraging a patent portfolio of over 340 assets. The business has tripled in each of the last two years, effectively putting to work the $225M in financing the company has secured since its inception in 2011. Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, HZO operates 12 worldwide factories and a contracted workforce of over 2000.
Simone Maraini, HZO Inc. CEO spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Q. Why was the company established? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
Society’s growing dependence on technology for everything from personal convenience items like cell phones to mission-critical applications like autonomous driving has driven exponential demand to deliver more durable, reliable and protected electronics.
HZO recognized that the traditional ways of protecting electronics (i.e., seals, gaskets, silicon, and epoxies) had significant drawbacks, especially for a new generation of offerings. Given this knowledge, we pioneered a Spectrum of Protection™ – a suite of thin film coating solutions applied directly to sensitive circuitry, to help create a more durable, more reliable, product offering. We do this by bringing together in-depth domain knowledge, proven manufacturing processes, advanced nanocoating materials, and the industry’s most state-of-the-art equipment. Our applications perform well beyond the industry IPX7 standard for protection reducing costly returns, improving customer satisfaction and driving brand value.
Q. How successful was your first series of engagements? Share the experience.
HZO’s maniacal focus on quality and service helped ensure that early engagements with organizations the likes of Dell, Motorola, and Nike were hugely successful. It also provided HZO with the opportunity to fine tune it’s approach and proprietary formulas, uniquely perfecting the ability to scale from 100s, to 100s of thousands, to millions of units coated a day. With its early success, HZO advanced its offerings and business model to provide both stand-alone and factory in factory coating as a service solution.
Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
One of the most significant challenges early on was educating customers on the value that nanocoatings, and advanced thin film solutions had to offer. The value was not merely in the technology, but the effect it had on preventing returns, improving customer usability and satisfaction, fuelling ancillary sales, and driving downstream revenue opportunities. Our practice of guaranteeing outcomes has become a bedrock principle and has allowed us to quickly evolve from a single industry focus to serving multiple markets and diverse stakeholder requirements.
Q. “Earning trust and respect of consumers all around the world is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?
When it comes to protecting what matters most to each of us – whether it be the safety on an airplane, reliability of an automotive, availability of a personal electronic, or stability of medical devices, trust is the key. Year over year HZO has delivered exceptional quality, at scale, through a repeatable and proven process, helping to ensure our customers meets the demands of the market, at a price point that delivers extraordinary value. This is how we have earned the trust and respect of our customers - delivering superior protection tailored to their specific needs. As we like to say: “If it doesn’t say HZO, it isn’t truly protected.”
Q. How do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this highly volatile market?
We believe the only way to stay competitive is through continuous innovation. This includes advancements in the area of material science, next-generation automation, and leading-edge processes. This includes investments in green initiatives and environmentally sound practices.
Q. If you have to list four factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?
HZO’s ethos is based on four pillars: people, process, equipment, and material science.
Our people have deep domain knowledge and experience across disciplines from chemistry to manufacturing, quality to engineering. But what truly differentiates them is their passion for delighting our customers every day. It’s not surprising that we are consistently receiving top scores and awards as a vendor and our people are personally recognized for their leadership.
Our process is proven and repeatable and designed to scale with the needs of the particular product, program or customer. It is at the core as to why we are consistently trusted with new opportunities and have the confidence to guarantee results.
Our equipment is built to exacting standards and designed and produced in house. It represents the latest state-of-the-art engineering and cutting edge technology to tackle the most complex challenges.
Finally, our understanding of material science allows us to continually pioneer new thin film solutions, many no thicker than a human hair.
Q. Do you have any new products ready to be launched?
Yes, within our Spectrum of Protection we are continuously adding unique solutions to meet the ever-evolving needs of the market. HZO is equally adept at protecting electronics whether they are 30 fathoms below the sea or at 200 degrees Celsius. We also are introducing a new generation of laser-based modules and plasma etchers, that can efficiently and quickly handle the removal of materials, accelerating the throughput associated with our coating process.
Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
We see growth on three fronts. First, HZO’s roots are in the consumer electronics industry with significant inroads in IoT, automotive and medical device. Over the next couple of years, we will continue to expand into additional industries and markets. Second, our portfolio of solutions will continue to advance to meet the demanding and diverse needs of our customers. Finally, sustainability is a priority for HZO and our customers. We are committed to green coating solutions, minimal impact manufacturing, and smart material usage.
Simone Maraini: An Inspiring Leader
Simone Maraini joined HZO in December 2014 to lead the expansion of HZO into Europe. Along with his strong financial and M&A experience, Simone has worked with leading manufacturing companies across several of HZO’s target industries including aerospace and defense. Prior to joining HZO, Simone was the CFO of Alenia North America, where revenues rapidly grew from $25 million to $320 million, a prime contractor for the U.S. government. He also held the same position for Global Aeronautica, a joint venture between The Boeing Company and Alenia Aermacchi.
Simone earned his bachelor’s degree in Law from Universita La Sapienza in Italy and completed the Executive Management program (AMP178) at Harvard Business School. He is fluent in multiple languages including Italian, English, French and Spanish.