SANTA ROSA -- Rapidly rising rents and hours spent commuting convinced chemist Javad Sahbari, Ph.D, to relocate Applied Chemical Laboratories from Silicon Valley.

[caption id="attachment_78019" align="alignright" width="200"] Javad Sahbari[/caption]

"In the past two to three years, I was commuting from Fountaingrove to Sunnyvale," said Dr. Sahbari, chairman and chief executive officer, from his northeast Santa Rosa home.

Added to that time lost in work on projects, the company's lease on a 20,000-square-foot plant in Sunnyvale was expiring, and the growth of companies such as Apple in that area of the city has driven up lease rates.

This summer, the company has been settling into a 5,000-square-foot leased industrial space at 777 Aviation Blvd. near Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport. The company has 10 employees now and plans to hire three to five more.

That's an exacting task for a company known for its ultraclean procedures for researching the components of chemicals and scaling up customers' research-and-development formulations to prepare for full-scale packaging and manufacturing, according to Gloria Weir, executive vice president.

Started in the semiconductor industry, the company's expertise has expanded to other electronics such as production of plasma displays.

The Sunnyvale plant closed in May, but the company maintains a small project-support office there.

Dr. Sahbari, who holds more than a dozen patents, was part of a team of chemists and engineers who founded Applied Chemical (408-737-8880, appchem.com) in 2006. That was when the noncompete agreement from the sale of his previous venture, Silicon Valley Chemicals, expired. Rohm & Hass, now part of Dow Chemical, purchased it for more than $15 million.

Started in 1989, Silicon Valley Chemical made its name in developing less environmentally detrimental chemicals for semiconductor makers to etch integrated-circuits into wafers during manufacturing. Applied Chemical now makes solvents and cleaners for resins used in composite manufacturing and is working on solvents for nanoparticle manufacturing.

Dave Peterson of Keegan & Coppin/ONCOR International represented Applied Chemical in its March 11 lease in Santa Rosa. CJ Rico and Shawn Johnson also of Keegan & Coppin represented the property owners.