Compass Minerals Acquires Minority Ownership Stake in Next-Generation Fire Retardant Company
Key ingredient in fire retardant products derived from Compass Minerals’ Great Salt Lake solar evaporation production stream
Compass Minerals (NYSE: CMP), a leading global provider of essential minerals, today announced a $45 million equity investment in FORTRESS North America (Fortress), an early-stage long-term fire retardant (LTR) company dedicated to developing and producing a portfolio of more environmentally friendly and carbon neutral fire retardants to combat the devastating effects of wildfires in North America and around the world. This builds upon the initial $5 million Series A investment Compass Minerals made in Fortress, meaningfully increasing its minority equity stake ownership to approximately 45%, with the opportunity to further increase that stake over time.
Fortress is a next-generation fire retardant company focused on reinventing wildfire application technologies. Led by CEO Robert Burnham alongside a team of multi-disciplined, veteran fire professionals, Fortress is the first new company in more than 20 years to pass all testing protocols and certifications for qualifying two new LTR products. LTRs are highly specialized formulations designed specifically for aerial drops to control the spread of wildfires. Fortress’ latest FR-600 ground retardant was recently added to the United States Forest Service’s (USFS) Qualified Products List.
Fortress’ patent portfolio of LTR and ground retardant formulations has been developed primarily using essential minerals supplied from Compass Minerals’ solar evaporation site on the Great Salt Lake near Ogden, Utah, which was the foundation of the strategic alliance between the two companies.
“Since we began working closely with the entrepreneurial Fortress team approximately 18 months ago, we have been excited about the growth potential of their innovative products in what has historically been a stagnant and sole-sourced market,” said Kevin S. Crutchfield, Compass Minerals president and CEO. “We believe our support, both financially and operationally, will help accelerate that growth potential, and we anticipate Fortress’ high demand season will help to counter-balance the seasonality of our core deicing salt business.”
The USFS tests fire chemicals for safety and efficacy prior to approval for field use. The combustion retarding effectiveness test (burn test) is one of the most critical, as it assesses a new product’s ability to retard the spread of fire against the legacy chemistry of ammonium phosphate. The USFS burn test conducted for the Fortress FR-100 product showed that it performed 20-30% better than ammonium phosphate products typically in use today. Fortress’ LTRs, based on magnesium chloride technology, are also designed to deliver extended effectiveness by re-hydrating when the relative humidity rises above approximately 33%, a common occurrence overnight on many large wildfires.
Fortress plans to further expand its suite of magnesium chloride-based retardants, which provide unique properties for fighting wildfires and abating fire risk. The announced investment by Compass Minerals is expected to enable Fortress to scale more quickly by completing the construction of its manufacturing facilities for both its powder and liquid concentrate products. Fortress also expects to leverage Compass Minerals’ supply chain and logistics capabilities in support of Fortress’ market competitiveness.
“Nothing about our alliance with Compass Minerals is happenstance,” said Burnham. “The alignment of capabilities were crystal clear from our very first meeting, and taking this step now allows us to scale rapidly and effectively.”
About Compass Minerals
Compass Minerals (NYSE: CMP) is a leading global provider of essential minerals focused on safely delivering where and when it matters to help solve nature’s challenges for customers and communities. Its salt products help keep roadways safe during winter weather and are used in numerous other consumer, industrial and agricultural applications. And its plant nutrition business manufactures products that improve the quality and yield of crops, while supporting sustainable agriculture. Additionally, its specialty chemical business serves the water treatment industry and other industrial processes. The company operates 15 production and packaging facilities with more than 2,000 employees throughout the U.S., Canada, Brazil and the U.K. Visit compassminerals.com for more information about the company and its products.
With corporate locations in California and Montana, Fortress, founded in 2016, is a new and innovative fire retardant company that has designed and developed the Fortress family of chemically advanced “next generation” long-term fire retardants, engineered for environmental safety and superior efficacy. More info: www.FORTRESSFRS.com
Forward Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including, without limitation, statements about Fortress’ growth potential, Fortress’ ability to scale and expand, and the investment’s ability to counter-balance the seasonality of the company’s business. These statements are based on current expectations and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. The differences could be caused by a number of factors, including those factors identified in the “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” sections of the company’s Annual and Quarterly Reports on Forms 10-K and 10-Q, including any amendments, as well as the company’s other SEC filings. The company undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements made in this press release to reflect future events or developments, except as required by law.
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