Interview with Ron Romer
Ron Romer is an accomplished formulator and current technical service manager of the decorative coatings market segment in the Americas region. Ron joined Evonik's Coating Additives business line in 2017, after the acquisition of the Huber silica business.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE INDUSTRY AND HOW DO YOU PLAN TO BRING YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE TO YOUR ROLE WITH EVONIK?
I have over 35 years of experience in the coatings industry, including process engineering and formulating commercial systems for some of the world’s largest coatings producers. I have an extensive background in TiO2 dispersion and optical theory from my work at some of the largest TiO2 and raw material producers. My role on the Evonik team brings a broad understanding of raw materials and formulations to help to interpret customer needs. This background helps to effectively recommend and support our ZEOLEX® and SIPERNAT® silicates for TiO2 extension and other optical benefits.
TELL US ABOUT EVONIK'S PRODUCTS FOR TIO2 DISPERSION.
Our ZEOLEX® and SIPERNAT® silicates are synthetic precipitated multi-functional fillers that combine four important performance attributes:
Opacity and TiO2 spacing: Unique mechanisms based on particle morphology to space and extend/replace TiO2. Tint strength and wet opacity can only be achieved by proper TiO2 spacing.
Brightness: Synthetic precipitates offer superior purity versus natural-mineral-based fillers. The controlled precipitation process makes them an industry standard in brightness, without any crystalline silica content.
Sheen control: ZEOLEX® and SIPERNAT® silicates are offered with different particle sizes and surface areas to tailor the balance of 85/60 degree gloss across a range of mid-to-low gloss systems.
Touch-up control: Perhaps one of the most important benefits. ZEOLEX® and SIPERNAT® silicates provide uniform sheen and color development in the finished coating, despite variations in application methods or conditions.
HOW DO THE RECENTLY ACQUIRED PRODUCTS FROM HUBER FIT INTO EVONIK'S CURRENT PORTFOLIO?
Evonik is already a world leader in precipitated silica technology. The former Huber precipitated silicates extend the value of Evonik’s inorganic precipitate technology for a much broader range value and applications. If a customers’ system could benefit from a precipitated product, we probably have the right one. The difference in refractive index between the SIPERNAT® and ZEOLEX® silicates and the ACEMATT® silicas means that we have better flexibility to achieve clarity or opacity across a wider range of applications.
HOW SIGNIFICANT IS IT TO BE A SUPPLIER THAT COMBINES ADDITIVES, MATTING AGENTS, AND TIO2 EXTENDERS WITH DISPERSION ANALYSIS?
Evonik has made major investments in instrumentation and methodology to test the dispersion performance of the materials in most types of liquid systems. This methodology allows us to connect the dots; meaning, we have advanced capability to understand both the materials to be dispersed and the materials used to disperse them. The fact that these are all Evonik technologies means we have the tools to leverage the synergies of our materials and a clear advantage to meet the needs of our customer’s applications. Our technical support tools include advanced TIDAS dispersion analysis and high throughput robotic laboratory processing. I see this as a well-formulated organization.
WHAT INTERESTING TRENDS DO YOU SEE IN THE DECORATIVE COATINGS MARKET WHERE OUR PRODUCTS COULD BE A FIT? WHAT ARE THE NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR US?
Increasingly, our customers are gaining a global footprint. The fact that Evonik is so well-established globally makes us more able to adapt to the quality and supply needs across the regions. We can really engage customers on a global level. At the local level, mid- to smaller-sized customers benefit from the quality consistency of our products because we have so much history behind our processes and we have the critical mass to invest in the best technology. Evonik has the resources and experience in our process technology and our support organization that is second to none.
Another industry trend is toward greener technologies and renewable resources. This has been going on for a while but the advancement of new green raw material technologies is not slowing down. Waterborne, high solids and zero VOC systems can be much more complex than the prior generations of raw material technologies that have literally been refined over thousands of years. Evonik has a very high reinvestment into new product development and a firm commitment to peoples’ health and the environment. We continue to offer new VOC compliant raw materials and we have the technical experts who understand how our additives can help customers who face common challenges when going green. Challenges like burnish resistance, corrosion performance, wetting and adhesion can all be address with Evonik’s additives and expertise. Unless you are a formulator like me, it’s hard to explain how cool it is to have all of these solutions in house.
CLOSING COMMENTS: IS THERE ANYTHING ADDITIONAL YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE OR WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW?
I worked as a competitor to Evonik for many years before I became a part of Evonik. If you have read each of my responses to these questions, you will probably understand why I’m happy to have become a part of the organization. I think everyone likes to play on a winning team but the sense of responsibility to people and the environment was a big one for me. I also love working with people, so the fact I spend so much time helping customers really makes the work more enjoyable. I have a number of other people working around me who seem to share this with me, like Maria Nargiello, Bob Lin, Jason Ghaderi, Mike Peck, Jim Reader… You can’t find another team like that.