Michelman and Safic-Alcan ECS interview

ITW Michelman x Safic

A long-standing partnership, with a gaze towards the future: Read this pre-ECS interview featuring Michelman and Safic-Alcan. 

Michelman is a global developer and manufacturer of specialized sustainable chemistry used in different industries (architectural coatings, digital printing, foodservice packaging, agriculture, and advanced composites for automotive and aerospace).  

Safic-Alcan is an independent distributor of specialty chemicals with a global network, and, together, they have been cooperating and serving formulators with best-in-class ingredients since 2007.  

Under the impetus of Luc Vanderstappen, Account Manager EMEA at Michelman, the two companies have added new geographies to their distribution reach, including Europe and Africa, and now, in a joint interview with Jean-Marie Schmuck, Business Development Director Coatings, they discuss the details of the partnership, sustainability in Coatings, the future and possibilities available in this market, and more.  

You can read the full article below and join them at the European Coatings Show in Nuremberg this year, where Michelman will co-exhibit alongside Safic-Alcan at booth 3-448.

After all this time, what do you believe are the key ingredients for a successful partnership to last in our business?

Luc Vanderstappen: This successful partnership is based on market knowledge, technical sales support, mutual trust, transparency, responsiveness, respect for each other’s business strategy, and personal relationships. Continuous product training and our technical support allow the Safic-Alcan Sales Teams to be a valued partner for our customers.   

Jean-Marie Schmuck: If we take “key ingredients” at its literal meaning, Michelman’s robust portfolio for the building paints and exterior wood coatings is a 1st pillar. Now, in all seriousness, our partnership has been forged based on mutual trust and an open dialogue, allowing us to focus our efforts on specific solutions for our customers. 

How can Coatings’ customers, specifically, benefit from long-standing partnerships like this one?

LV: It enables Safic-Alcan’s Industry Managers to develop key connections with each customer. This in-depth customer knowledge allows them to identify a customer’s needs and to propose optimal solutions that Michelman’s products can provide.  

JMS: Faced with a complex and constantly evolving market, Coatings customers know both our companies can understand their challenges and support the development of various projects in the long term through innovative solutions. 

Do you remember any specific projects, ingredient introductions or geography developments that were remarkable in your business relationship?

LV: Several projects can be mentioned, but the geographical expansion is quite remarkable. The journey started with the 2007 appointment of Safic-Alcan as our “channel to market” for Coatings in France. As a result of Safic’s valuable contributions, we decided to expand our relationship. We now have additional partnerships with Safic-Alcan in the UK, Turkey, Italy and, more recently, in Central Eastern Europe and South-Africa. 

JMS : Safic-Alcan as a group has experienced a fast growth over the past 10 years, opening new offices in CEE and in Africa. I can only be thankful to Michelman for their confidence, expanding step-by-step our distribution agreement during the last 5 years to the countries and regions mentioned by Luc. 

Sustainability has become a key focus in the Coatings world. How can Michelman and Safic-Alcan ensure customers are offered the latest solutions in sustainable ingredients?

LV:   Innovating a Sustainable Future is a shared vision for both Michelman and Safic Alcan. As our partner, Safic plays a significant role in determining current and future “regional” requirements. We rely on their guidance to help determine our production plans and product formulations — including identifying optimal materials that can help our customers meet their own sustainability objectives.  

JMS: Firstly, I wanted to emphasize that by sharing similar values, both of our companies embrace the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, hence are committed to a sustainable business. Then, in practice, our customers can benefit from Michelman’s expertise in water-based surface modifiers and polymers, and the guidance of our technical sales teams through their projects.  

This year we will be co-exhibiting together at the European Coatings Show, in Nuremberg. What can visitors and customers expect?

LV: We will highlight our sustainable solutions, exterior wood solutions, and metal treatment applications. We will have a Sr. Application Specialist at the show to address technical questions.   

JMS: Michelman was already one of our co-exhibitors during ECS 2019, so we naturally renewed this successful experience. Their team will have a dedicated corner at our booth, where we can organize joint meetings, review on-going projects and introduce new environmentally friendly solutions to visitors. 

To finalize it, how do you see the Coatings market in the years to come, and what will be a key success factor for Coatings formulators?

LV: The coatings industry will be under increasing pressure from consumers, governments, and regulatory agencies to reduce the environmental impact of its products and processes. A close collaboration with the formulators and suppliers of raw materials will be key to accelerate the development of new sustainable coatings systems that meet or exceed the market requirements. 

JMS: Even through uncertainty, I’m a true believer that Innovation and Sustainability will be driving factors in the years to come. I can tell you that our company, alongside key partners like Michelman, are already working hard to overcome current challenges and continue to meet customers’ expectations in any scenario. 

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