Marlin Company a Lenoir fixture, national presence
Marty G. Waters founded Marlin Company Inc. with his mother, Linda K. Waters, in 1992, when he was the only employee, but today Marlin occupies more than 100,000 square feet and employs 30 people while producing about 1.8 million pounds of chemical products each month.
The Marlin name is a combination of the two founders, Marty and Linda, and that same family and community cohesion has pervaded the company since, now including Marty’s father and a strong presence in Lenoir.
Waters was born and raised in Lenoir, graduating from Hibriten High School in 1982 before earning an associate degree in science at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute and then a bachelor’s in chemistry from Appalachian State University in 1988. He's just three classes shy of having a master's degree from Pfieffer University.
After taking a job with Milliken Chemical when he graduated from ASU, Waters worked with Carpenter Co. in Newton as assistant plant manager for five years before coming back to Caldwell County and founding Marlin.
Marlin has steadily grown since its founding in Hudson. It moved to Lenoir, first to Jennings Street, then Underdown Avenue and finally to the current location, 1333 Virginia St., where the company has four buildings on 13 acres.
Today, Marlin makes products such as textile softeners, anti-microbials and cleaning agents, de-greasers, rust inhibitors and aluminum brighteners. Marlin has a wide range of chemical blending capabilities, in powders and liquids, able to blend low- and high-viscosity liquids, with one machine Waters said could “turn peanut butter.”
The company also offers a range of chemical services, like solvent extraction, metal analysis, pH testing, custom formulation, viscosity testing and more, in a high-tech lab that houses a mass spectrometer capable of detecting metals in a liquid.
When Marlin was starting out, Waters said, he was warned not to diversify but instead to get good at making one thing and stick to it.
“But I diversified the whole time,” Waters said. “I don’t think I would have been successful without it.”
Contract manufacturing, producing a product for another company that markets and sells it under its own brand, has grown to become a major part of the company’s business and its biggest growth area.
Marlin has steadily grown since the early '90s, purchasing chemical companies such as Prescott Chemicals in 2001, Vikon Antimicrobials in 2002 and Metalx Specialty Products in 2005.
Waters and Marlin also are involved in the community, serving on the Lenoir Emergency Planning Committee, Western Piedmont Council of Government Workforce Development Board and sponsoring the Lenoir Police Department and Crime Stoppers of Caldwell County.