Global resins producer Allnex has been on a journey of growth since becoming an independent operator last year and is showcasing its ambition by entering a joint venture in China to boost its crosslinker (amino resins) presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Awaiting final clearance to team up with Taiwanese company Eternal Materials, Allnex is looking to bring its specialist products and technologies to geographies which can benefit from its expertise, which now has the company hitting the $1.5 billion mark.
The company has more than 2,500 customers being served by its 2,000 employees over 16 manufacturing sites in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific, with Europe accounting for around half of business (48 percent).
These include big industry names such as PPG, AkzoNobel, Michelin, BASF and Axalta, with more than 500 suppliers feeding into Allnex’s operation.
Francois Thys, Vice President Operations outlined the key pillars to the business furthering its success going forward. He said: “Three important elements to us moving forward are growth, operational excellence and people and culture.”
“The growth will be achieved both through acquisitions and organically as we strive for continuous improvement. Growth is going to drive success and we want to grow with our customers – we have ambitious plans to grow the top line and our service, products and processes.”
The Advent of Allnex
Becoming an independent company in April 2013 and making a quick, seamless transition without losing market position has been one of the headline achievements made by the business in recent times.
Allnex came into its own after being bought by private equity firm Advent International, a company with 20 years in the chemical sector and with a matching focus on growth. The move brought with it a need for Allnex to rebrand itself externally and internally, with finance, IT, HR and manufacturing departments having to adjust and become centralised.
“To the outside world we were continuing as we were, but we had to reassure customers that our operations would not be disrupted and that the new owners would help us to raise the bar even higher,” Thys said.
“We also had to find a new name, research its availability and identify ourselves with clients, which was not an easy task.”
Allnex is among the leaders in the $35 billion coating resins industry, thanks to its four specialist products lines which include Liquid Resins & Additives, Radiation Curable Resins, Powder Coating Resins and Crosslinkers.
Key technologies across these lines respectively include Alkyds and Acrylics, various Oligomers and Lamination, UV powder Resins, and Formaldehyde-Free Crosslinkers and Technical Phenolics.
The front-end applications of these products vary enormously with such resins being used in automotive, industrial, packaging, consumer electronics and architectural products among many others.
Allnex’s new owners very quickly demonstrated their vision for growth and continue to back expansion plans. In October 2013, only months after the takeover, Allnex acquired Desmolux from Bayer MaterialScience, a series of non-waterborne radiation curing resins.
The company has also formed a joint venture in China with Taiwanese crosslinker producer Eternal Materials subject to final clearances from the competition authorities.
If approved, this will result in the construction of a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, and will combine Allnex’s specialist technology with the local business knowledge of Eternal, creating a mutually beneficial partnership.
Thys added: “We have the technology to go into a market which is asking for it, but not easy to penetrate. Eternal has a presence in the base end of the market and we can help steer a lot of new developments.
Crucially their expertise in operating plants in China is invaluable – partnering with somebody who has this local knowledge of business and the authorities will help us thrive in the market much quicker than going alone.”
This plan represents an important step in the wider goal of extending Allnex technologies to parts of the world where they are currently unseen.
In February this year it opened an Americas HQ and Technology Centre at Alpharetta in Georgia, USA, one of several important research hubs across the company’s network that prides itself on developing innovations hand-in-hand with customer requirements and dialogue.
“If you want to ensure growth you need to come up with innovative solutions in what is a quickly changing world with new demands surfacing across sectors,” Thys said. “The natural way to grow for us is with our clients and tracking the evolutions in their markets.
“Transforming to a customer focus as part of our continuous improvement is very important; our project called Commercial Excellence involved our sales people mapping our customers and improving the way we work with them.”
Customers can also be assured that Allnex operates to high certified standards, with the company’s manufacturing sites up to OHSAS 18001 (health and safety), ISO 9001 (management systems) and ISO 14001 (environment management) levels.
Internally Allnex is harmonising processes across all departments thanks to its two-year Phoenix ERP project; 48 employees from various units including finance, manufacturing, procurement and marketing where seconded from the business to the project team to ensure the new ERP was based on best in class business processes.
Having started this in November 2013, Thys is hoping the system will become fully operational in November 2015 with pilot tests now being conducted. The system will provide vital enhanced visibility, from top floor to shop floor, allowing the company to unify processes and ultimately better serve customers.
This project is a leading example of Allnex stepping up its efforts to bring the whole workforce working towards one common objective. “Internally we are communicating to engage our workforce across the whole business, the best ambassadors for the business are our own people,” Thys added.
Projects like Phoenix are part of the company’s training initiatives for new and existing employees, which also include on-the-job training and work with outside consultants.
Thys said: “We want to develop listeners, communicators and networkers, both for activities inside and outside the business. Leadership is vital because the cycles we operate in are becoming shorter and shorter so we need people who can guide us through that.”
Another important part of staff development is in Safety, Health and Environment (SHE). The SHE management system adopted by Allnex ensures the protection of Allnex employees, customers, andt also enables the company to positively interact with the communities neighbouring its facilities and to preserve the natural environment for now and future generations.
The past 18 months have been an exciting one for Allnex, and with bold and ambitious new owners, fruitful joint ventures and ongoing continuous internal improvements, the company can continue to bring its resins to parts of the world yet to benefit from its specialist technologies.