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Technology leader in fine and process chemicals expands in global semiconductor and display markets

Article - March 29, 2024

A South Korean company that has flourished on the back of successful partnerships with domestic giants Samsung and SK Hynix, ENF now has major international ambitions as it bids to capitalize on a growing semiconductor sector. 

Founded in 2000, the South Korean company ENF Technology has established itself as a trusted specialist in supplying electronic materials for the manufacture of displays and semiconductors. ENF counts domestic titans of the electronics sector among a portfolio of customers that know they can rely on its products – and as the Yongin-based firm continues to go from strength to strength, its sights are now trained on the ambitious goals it has set itself for international expansion.

In recent years, ENF’s ability to remedy supply chain disruptions brought about by various factors – including the COVID-19 pandemic and Japanese restrictions on the export of semiconductor materials to South Korea – has played a key role in what has been a period of significant growth for the company. Indeed, its revenue rose from 486 billion KRW in 2020 to 600 billion KRW in 2022.

“In the past, most raw materials consumed in South Korea came from China, while the underlying technology and equipment mainly came from Japan,” explains ENF CEO Jeong-Soo Kim. “However, regulatory changes combined with import restrictions pushed the country to change its supply chain structure.

“Industry giants such as Samsung and SK Hynix were facing serious supply challenges, as they could not get the raw materials required on time. Consequently, these large corporate groups started looking for alternative suppliers, one of which was ENF. Amid this challenging situation, we have showcased our ability to react, adapt and deliver timely solutions to customers confronting difficulties.”

ENF, whose products include process chemicals, fine chemicals and color pastes, has amply met the quality standards required by such leading manufacturers. “A cornerstone of our achievements in the South Korean market lies in our capability to understand and cater to the demands and specifications of SK Hynix and Samsung,” Mr. Kim says. “These companies play a crucial role in the industry as they require industrial grade materials that necessitate a high degree of competence.”

Now, as ENF targets overseas growth, its successful partnership with companies that stand for excellence can only serve to boost its expansion efforts, as the firm looks to capitalize on an expected global boom in the semiconductor industry.

“I firmly believe that we are on the verge of a tremendous surge in the sector,” Mr. Kim says. “This is largely due to the rising prominence of big data and artificial intelligence (AI), with demand projected to skyrocket by tenfold, possibly even a hundredfold, within the coming decades. Looking at the long-term perspective, the current semiconductor supply is unlikely to keep up with the advancing technology landscape, especially as it draws in a larger consumer base. In my view, this indicates a highly optimistic future, making it an opportune moment to invest in the semiconductor sector.”

Mr. Kim continues: “We must continue to expand in international markets. As we do so, the fact that we are a supplier to Samsung and SK Hynix means that our products already abide to a high level of quality. This shows other chip makers that we are qualified and that we can deliver. Our next strategic move is to extend our influence to the American and Chinese markets. Convincing global giants such as Micron and Intel to use our products is an important part of this strategy.”

ENF is currently in the process of building a U.S. manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas – a move that it sees as an opening step on the road to success in a variety of countries, with Japan and Taiwan also among the firm’s targets.

“Our new factory in Austin is strategically located near a primary Samsung factory,” Mr. Kim says. “The objective of our U.S. operation is to comprehensively cover the demands of Samsung’s facility and start business relations with American foundries. But our vision is more ambitious than that. Looking ahead, our aim is to become a global supplier that is trusted by major corporations in all semiconductor countries.”

And while ENF may have enjoyed major financial growth in the past few years, the company is confident that, by the time its 30th anniversary comes around in 2030, its current plans for overseas expansion will have led sales to multiply many times further. “Our current revenue is around 600 million USD, but our vision is set firmly on a future where this figure reaches the one billion mark,” Mr. Kim declares.

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