Leading the Way

November 1, 2008
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Marcel de Wolf has been named CEO of Sartomer Co. In this interview, he discusses new growth opportunities and his plans for the future.

Marcel de Wolf


Global specialty chemicals manufacturer Sartomer Co. has named Marcel de Wolf as chief executive officer, succeeding Dr. Luigi Colantuoni, who accepted a new assignment with Sartomer’s parent company, TOTAL S.A., in Paris.

In the new position, de Wolf will report to Bernard Pinatel, chief executive officer of Cray Valley, the resins division of TOTAL Specialty Chemicals Branch. He will be responsible for general management of Sartomer, with $575 million in annual sales, 13 manufacturing sites and nearly 600 employees.

ASI: How long have you been in the chemicals industry, and how has the industry changed during that period?

de Wolf: I have been in the industry almost 25 years, including 22 years in paints, coatings and resins. The industry as a whole has become extremely competitive - most noticeably in the last few years - as a result of Asian competition and ongoing mergers and acquisitions. Unfortunately, this has commoditized a lot of products.

ASI: What is the biggest challenge that Sartomer currently faces? What steps are you taking to face this challenge?

de Wolf: The most exciting challenge Sartomer currently faces is the transition to a truly global company. In this respect, we will be paying a lot of attention to our new facility in China and our operations and growth of business in the Far East in general.

ASI: What do you see as the biggest challenge to the adhesives and sealants industry overall?

de Wolf: We expect strong growth from new chemistries that will replace metal fasteners. However, some of the significant increases in raw-material costs could suppress the growth in certain segments.

ASI: Do you anticipate continued growth in the chemicals industry? In which end-use markets do you see the greatest growth for adhesives? In which chemistries do you see the most growth?

de Wolf: Yes. Most of our future growth will be UV/EB, anaerobic and polyurethane chemistries. The end-use markets include structural adhesives, laminating, pressure-sensitive and adhesives for electronic applications.

ASI: How is your company coping with the raw materials/feedstock shortages and price increases?

de Wolf: Our company is affected, like any other company, and challenged to pass on to our customers the enormous recent raw-material increases. We need to anticipate future corrections in order to minimize absorbing those increases ourselves, even for a short time. This erosion drives our results down, with spiraling energy costs contributing even more pressure. Internal savings or efficiencies simply cannot compensate for the recent increases any more.

ASI: What does the future entail for your company?

de Wolf:I expect the future situation of raw material prices and oil to stabilize eventually, perhaps even within the next six months. Sartomer has a very strong product portfolio that offers customers added value and a strong relative position. We will continue to work with our customers to find products that can deliver an edge, and we will use our global presence and expertise to further market our products and strengthen our position.

The long-term future looks very bright for Sartomer. Environmental regulations, as well as high energy prices, have forced many businesses to look for alternative suppliers that will deliver significant benefits and efficiencies and products that comply with the new environmental rules.

ASI: What role will you play in your company's future?

de Wolf: As a new CEO, I will be actively involved at all levels of the worldwide organization, and certainly with customers to better understand the issues and determine our solutions and steps forward. It will be a challenging role, as Sartomer is a large company, but I am looking forward to further uniting the organization and facilitate growth in order to deliver the best results for our shareholders.

About the Company

Sartomer Co., part of TOTAL’s Chemicals branch, is a U.S.-based manufacturer of specialty chemicals. Headquartered in Exton, PA, Sartomer provides a variety of specialty chemicals designed to enhance processing and performance characteristics in coatings, inks, elastomers, adhesives, sealants, composites, and other demanding applications. The company’s product offering includes more than 700 monomers and oligomers, polybutadiene resins, styrene maleic anhydride resins, and other specialty chemicals.

For more information, visit www.sartomer.com.


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