May Member spotlight – Nouryon
What is your business industry category or specialty?
Nouryon is a Eur 5 bln. specialty chemicals company. Most of our business is B2B and our industrial customers rely on our essential chemistry in the manufacture of everyday products such as paper, plastics, building materials, and personal care items. We operate in over 80 countries around the world.
In the fall of last year, we were spun off by AkzoNobel and are now owned by the private equity firm Carlyle.
How do you describe your job to people outside the industry?
I am responsible for one of the 5 global business units in Nouryon. We are one of the largest players in the pulp and paper market. Our pioneering solutions help improve pulp and paper product quality. Our bleaching products help make pulp white and bright. Pulp is the raw material for paper, packaging, hygienic tissue and textiles. Besides that, we manage a few specialty chemicals product lines as well. We operate 25 manufacturing sites all over the world.
Who are your main competitors and what differentiates you from the competition?
What makes you unique?
Our main competitors are specialty or integrated chemical companies. Three examples of our differentiated product and services offering are:
1) In the pulp market, we do not only supply raw materials to our customers, but in a number of cases we have also built our plants adjacent to the customers pulp mill. We also handle some of our customers other chemical raw materials needs as a one stop shop. Besides that, we also engineer, construct and sell chemical manufacturing units for the pulp mills.
2) One of our specialty product lines is Colloidal Silica, which is essentially derived from sand. Our products are used in high value-added applications, such as electronics to polish sapphire glass, which is used in the navigating button, photo lens and internals of the iPhone.
3) Our Expandable Microspheres are used in a variety of applications providing light weight insulation and protection. Used in insulating roof coatings, it allows a homeowner to reduce the in-house temperature by 10-15C. In automotive, used in under body coatings, it provides a light weight protection against wear and tear. We have also developed with our customers an application for a natural cork-based wine stopper. This will enhance the integrity of the natural cork significantly (and therefore preserve wine quality).
Most of these specialty products and applications have been the result of our focused research and development program and working with our customers. A number of these unique products are IP (intellectual property) protected.
How was the business started?
A number of product lines in Nouryon (and the old AkzoNobel) go way back and have grown through a number of mergers and acquisitions. Actually, our bleaching products business finds it roots in a Swedish company that was co-founded by Alfred Nobel in 1895.
How many employees does the business have?
We have about 10,000 employees globally, of which 2,500 are located in the US. We have 80 employees in our Marietta office. We also have manufacturing plants in Augusta and Duluth.
How did you end up in Atlanta?
I worked in this job for 5 years out of Gothenburg in Sweden. The regional US business unit office is in Marietta and I was moved back to the US from Sweden in the fall of last year.
What is your number one business goal over the next year?
Our goals for next year will be “safety, growth and productivity”. As we are operating chemical plants and processes, people and process safety is our core principal and our license to operate. Nobody comes to work to get hurt. We have a number of unique products and services and some of our underlying markets are growing substantially faster than GDP growth. We want to capitalize on this growth potential. Productivity programs are a key driver in managing our production cost and maximizing plant output.
What is the best advice you have received regarding doing business with Americans/Dutch?
I learned to always adapt when working in different cultures, recognizing subtleties in communication styles. The directness in both the American and Dutch culture is easy to work in.
Any other personal information you would like to share, e.g. hobbies, special interests, family etc…
My wife and I settled in the middle of Buckhead in the fall of last year and we are exploring Buckhead and the many interesting neighborhoods Atlanta has to offer. We have lived in Chicago for many years, but the weather is much nicer here! Our three kids are in college in the US, so after moving back, we are a little closer to them. I was an avid runner until my knees gave out. Now I am biking the trails around Atlanta and (try) go to the gym.
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