About Us
Basic Beliefs
Leadership Team
Board of Directors
Our History
Responsible Distribution
Community Involvement Careers
Essential Ingredients launched in May 1996 in a small office incubator in Augusta, GA. The two founders, Chris Gerlach and Kris Maynard, could not afford a ‘real’ incubator office so the owner of the building agreed to rent them the server closet for $125 a month. The space was just large enough for a desk and a sample shelf. Chris came from a chemical distributor and Kris came from a chemical manufacturer. This combination gave them a unique perspective on the market and true insight into the needs of both customers and suppliers. Over time, the business grew and additional hires were made, suppliers were added, and new geographies were entered. The distinguishing theme that propelled the business was the relentless focus to make 'others' successful: customers, suppliers, and employees. They learned that if they focused on the success of others, their success would be a natural by-product.

This theme still carries today. Essential Ingredients, a 100% employee-owned company since 2011, has roughly 75 employee-owners who delight customers and provide raw materials to every corner of the United States. With a desire to remain independently-owned, the company continues to develop strategic objectives to remain competitive in various markets and geographies for long-term success. Never diluting the others-centered culture that defines who they are, Essential Ingredients strives to fulfill their vision of being "the first thought in specialty ingredients, service and innovation." Innovation within chemical distribution is not necessarily associated with product innovation but more so cultural and service innovation.

The core values allow the employee-ownership mentality to remain prominent and they serve as a compass for every team member to make sound decisions. These core values are critical in what we do every day:
  • We act with integrity and respect
  • We strive to be a blessing to others
  • We achieve excellence through teamwork
  • We provide opportunities for growth
  • We foster a fun and enjoyable work environment
Driven by the purpose of "being a blessing to others and inspiring others to be a blessing as well," Essential Ingredients intends to remain independent and live out this purpose for decades to come.

“Although Essential Ingredients is not perfect, it is a very special place. It takes the right talent, culture, vision and strategy to make progress in the right direction and we work hard to get it right. We believe in what we do and why we do it; it makes a difference in the world.” - Kris Maynard, CEO & Co-Founder