May 31, 2022
Conferences are back in a major way. A slow rise of trade shows began in 3Q 2021 with the Coatings Trends & Technology in Chicago and the Western Coatings Show in Las Vegas. With validation from those shows and declining COVID numbers across the globe, the recent American Coatings Show in Indianapolis sent a very strong signal that in-person events are back (boasting 7,000+ visitors, 365 exhibitors and 760 conference attendees) and are potentially stronger than before.
From a laundry list of possible takeaways from the whirlwind three days, we’ve done our best to cull down the list to three key themes:
Sustainability, only a marketing buzzword no longer
Organizations large and small have made significant strides in terms of their sustainable offerings. Having started my career 10+ years ago with Evonik Coating Additives, I have seen the arc of terminology and deliverables firsthand.
Where marketing lingo like “Zero VOC” and “Green Coatings” once lived, now stand tangible products with meaningful reductions in the carbon footprint, stronger environmental claims and better performance profiles than less sustainable alternatives. Expect this trend to continue as the Coatings industry, being tightly linked with consumer demand, will be pulled forward into more environmentally conscious product development approaches.
Consolidation at every (trade show booth) corner
Per research from BCG some years ago, consolidation continues to remake the chemicals industry . Viewed from the small lens of a select few of Alchemy’s CASE customers, this consolidation is hitting closer and closer to home.
DCL recently acquired assets from Sun Chemical; Chromaflo is now in a 3-way merger with Prince Materials and Ferro; Borchers has entered its second full year under the Milliken umbrella; the deal between Arxada and Troy Corporation has officially occurred as of January 5, 2022; and IMCD have continued to scoop up smaller application development labs with a strong regional focus.
Firms struggle to capture and leverage their collective product knowledge
If you ask chemists how they get their daily work completed, Excel is the first word you’ll hear 98% of the time. Alchemy has been in the market for nearly 5 years now, and though today we target the broader material science industry, our start was in the CASE market segment. In our outreach, we continue to hear chemists struggle to find pertinent lab, process and product-related information; and struggle with knowledge capture and retention. Rather than moving toward systems that help with codifying processes, many firms continue to rely on tribal knowledge living in physical lab notebooks, Excel spreadsheets and LAN file folders.
Given these three themes it seems pertinent to point out the areas where Alchemy fits with these market trends.
Consolidation - From the very beginning, Alchemy has aligned well with Private Equity owned or backed CASE players. Because of their focus on making processes more visible and efficient, we have continually found strong synergies in this area. So much synergy, in fact, that we’ve developed a Post-Merger Integration (PMI) Playbook for companies in this position.
Sustainability - For organizations to truly drive toward more sustainable solutions, they first need to understand the definition(s) of sustainability in the context of their respective corporate strategies. Then, assuming one of the key thrusts of this strategy is launching products with a cleaner environmental profile, the details around formula composition at the raw material level will continue to meet escalating scrutiny. Alchemy helps its customers easily report on raw material contribution levels in their formulations from PVC, VOC %, CO2 emissions and quality control cycles.
Knowledge Capture and Retention - Alchemy feels strongly that systems that have been designed and implemented with the user in mind will eventually win the day. For firms seeking to mitigate the knowledge drain being accelerated by the great resignation, Alchemy provides a consolidated corporate knowledge base and makes it highly leverageable for future generations of employees.
1 BCG Claims "Consolidation Remakes Chemicals"
2 EY Parthenon: Global Chemicals Industry Set for Consolidation
3 HBR, Who is Driving the Great Resignation?