Larry Travels to Delaware

Okay here we go again.Eric Highpoint

Two questions:

  1. What is the name of the highest spot in Delaware?
  2. What is the elevation of this aforementioned spot? Put you're reading glasses on and see for yourself as VP-Operations for TAPPI, Eric Fletty, highlights these for us (photo).

Our trek to Wilmington, Del., although extremely interesting was not to find the answer to this burning question. Our visit was in response to an invitation by a 30-year TAPPI member who has served on at least seven committees, and is also the recipient of at least five TAPPI awards—Senior Group Leader for Ashland Water Technologies, Frank Sutman.

Wilmington is the home to Hercules legacy business. In 2006 the lab in Jacksonville, Fla., was relocated to Wilmington. Just three years later, the group from Boonton, N.J., was also relocated to Wilmington.Sutman

Today this campus is home to about 500 Ashland employees whom I bet know Frank by name. After spending all day touring their facilities, I asked Frank if he was running for Mayor of Ashland. Everyone seem to know his name and he theirs. This reminded me of the old sitcom Cheers. Remember Norm? Everyone seemed to know his name.

This global division of Ashland is known as Ashland Water Technologies (AWT). Folks, I don't have to tell you how important water is to our industry and our lives in general. We must continue to utilize this God given resource as the precious gift that it is. There is a French proverb that says: Fish discover water last. The very thing that sustains them, they do not even have a concept of it until it is gone.

This is, has been, and continues to be a very important topic.

Ashland has implemented a theme and lifestyle known as Responsible Care™, which includes:

  • A global management system to deliver excellence in environmental health, safety, and performance
  • Employee involvement at every level of the organization
  • Continual improvement toward Ashland's Responsible Care goals.

Responsible Care goals:

  • Operate with zero incidents
  • Achieve 100% compliance
  • Reduce environmental, health and safety impact.

Ashland has approximately 15,000 employees worldwide (50% are outside of North America). The company's $8.2 billion of annual sales (47% outside of North America in more than 100 countries) is broken down into four commercial units:Frank Award

  • Ashland Specialty Ingredients - 35%
  • Ashland Water Technologies - 21% and $1.7 billion in sales (Paper Process Additives, Paper Functional Additives, and Utility Water Treatment Chemicals)
  • Ashland Consumer Markets - 25%
  • Ashland Performance Materials -19%.

Worldwide, Ashland has 100 manufacturing sites, 17 R&D centers, and ranks either No. 1 or No. 2 in the four primary categories that they serve.

AWT's sales by product category are: Paper Process-27%, Utility Water-34%, and Paper Functional 44%. Its percentage of sales by geography is not what I expected, with 45% coming from North America. The balance is broken down as follows: Asia Pacific-12%, Latin America/Other-9%, Europe-34%.

AWT's Technology Deployment takes two routes, short- and long-term projects. The customer application laboratories focus on short term solutions for customer problems while 66% of their research effort focuses on basic R&D for more long term, strategic product development. In addition, the company has Fast Track laboratories that are more short-term opportunist such as product reformulations with new raw materials.

Two thirds of AWT's R&D supports the pulp and paper industry. The R&D task is to develop Game Changers with specific market focus in pulp, tissue and towel, printing and writing paper, and packaging.

In addition to a facility tour, Frank set up two group meetings for us with employees who were both current TAPPI members and those who should be. The first meeting had approximately 50 people in attendance and four or five on the phone. This meeting was for the specific purpose of letting people know exactly what TAPPI is all about and how they can better utilize TAPPI to advance their careers. Meeting number two was set up for a smaller focus group of 10-15 people to drill down on how TAPPI is doing and how TAPPI can improve our products and services.

I have to tell you that I was thrilled with not only the attendance of both meetings but the input that we received concerning multiple topics. We left these meetings with a list of take-a-ways as well as some new volunteers who want to help us kick off our new Tissue Division.

Ashland folks

Our photographer had a little trouble getting everyone in, so shown above are just a few of the great Ashland people we met during our visit.

We were very happy that we had the opportunity to visit Ashland, which has been a sustaining member for 21 years.

There are two types of people in our industry—TAPPI Members and those who should be.

More information about Ashland is available online.

More information about TAPPI is also available online.

Until next time..................


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Travels With Larry

Travels With Larry

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