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Hans Boots: 'Eastman Coatings has strong portfolio of world-class products'

Eastman Chemical Company : 27 February, 2002  (Company News)
Eastman Chemical Company produces literally hundreds of specialty products that are used as key ingredients for paints and coatings in architectural, automotive, plastics, furniture and appliances applications around the world.
Manufactured by Eastman’s Coatings, Adhesives, Specialty Polymers and Inks (CASPI) business organisation, the Company has made significant investments over the past ten years. Today it has established a reputation as a supplier of top quality products for key industrial sectors such as paints and coatings, intermediates, graphic arts and adhesives.

As a leading player in the coatings industry, Eastman has served the market with products such as cellulose acetate and cellulose acetate esters for more than 60 years. The Company’s Texanol® ester alcohol has been an Eastman product and trademark for more than 40 years, setting an early standard in the industry.

In the beginning of the 1990s, Eastman made a commitment to invest further in the coatings industry, both in terms of developing new technologies and through expanding its manufacturing capabilities. Following on from this decision, in 1992 Eastman started a process that eventually led to the introduction of Hydreau waterborne polymers, an innovative family of products used in architectural, industrial, and maintenance coatings.

A second step was the start of a series of acquisitions intended to build Eastman's presence in the coating resins field. In 1998 the Company acquired its first manufacturing facility outside the US: Ernst Jäger Fabrik Chemischer Rohstoffe in Germany, re-named Eastman Chemical Jäger.

At the end of 1999, Eastman acquired Chemické zavody Sokolov, re-named Eastman Sokolov, in the Czech Republic, located about 30 kilometres from the German border, in the heart of Europe. Chemické zavody Sokolov is a competitive world-class manufacturing site producing acrylic acid and acrylic esters used for merchant sales and in-house consumption. A significant part of the Eastman Sokolov production capabilities is based on waterborne polymer products. Moreover, being in a centralised location is a big advantage since products can be shipped economically to most parts of Europe.

According to Hans Boots, General Manager Coatings Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Sokolov is seen as a strategic manufacturing site for Eastman’s waterborne polymers platform: “Sokolov has good technology for the coatings markets in Europe. The technical skills of the people are excellent, the technology competence is outstanding and production is at world-class standards.”

After Sokolov, Eastman acquired McWhorter Technologies, a manufacturer of a range of resins for liquid and powder coatings. In the space of ten years, McWhorter had succeeded in establishing a strong position in the market place highlighted by its outstanding growth in the powder industry. The acquisition now gives Eastman a broad range of products, technologies and sites that will allow the company to supply solutions meeting the needs of the customer, both today and tomorrow.

Tomorrow is best served by focusing on and improving compliant technologies, i.e. waterborne technologies and powder coatings. This has led Eastman to introduce Hydreau polymers at the beginning of the year 2000.

Formulated specifically for the coatings market, Hydreau polymers, a new line of binders for use in architectural, industrial and maintenance coating applications, provide an excellent balance of aesthetic and protective characteristics. Paints containing these polymers combine decorative appearance features such as colour, gloss, and hiding power coupled with resistance to water/humidity, dirt, cracking, abrasion and corrosion. The better overall balance of properties minimises the need to sacrifice one property in order to maximize another one.

Boots: “Commercialisation of the Hydreau polymer family demonstrates Eastman's commitment to meet changing customer needs by providing new products based upon our proprietary technology. Our European acquisitions, designed to support and expand our waterborne efforts, enhance Eastman's product portfolio and supply of waterborne polymers to the global market.'

Over the past 15 or so years, powder coatings have become more commonly used, especially in key sectors such as architecture (aluminium frames), appliances and automotive. Not dependent on liquids or solvents, powder coatings are easy to use, ecologically sound and economical. Especially suited for three-dimensional shapes, dry powder coatings have high transfer efficiency with a high average yield of 97% and are recyclable.

Yet there is room for solvent borne products too. Although the coatings market is driven by environmental legislation, there is still a significant demand for solvent based products, particularly in automotive applications and for wood coating, but also in adhesives, industrial maintenance, architectural applications - both interior and exterior and solvents. However, there is a desire to move towards the use of more environmentally acceptable solvents, the so-called non-aromatics.

Hans Boots emphasises the importance of focusing on customer needs: “Our acquisitions were driven by a desire to get closer to the customers, both in terms of product offering and locations.
Having the right range of products allows us to deliver innovative and exciting solutions. Eastman provides hundreds of coatings raw materials to the region and beyond from its six manufacturing sites throughout Europe, while other Eastman products for the region are sourced from the U.S. and Asia. Supported by Technical Centres in the UK, Italy and the Czech Republic, and with a direct link to our global R&D Centre in Kingsport, Tennessee, USA, Eastman is now a leading European manufacturer, in closer proximity to our customers than ever before.”

In addition to more traditional channels of communication, Eastman also has an advanced development program for e-commerce. Says Boots: “Today, in our industry, we are seen as a leader in electronic commerce - and by the end of this year, we expect to be turning over a significant part of our business via e-business.”
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