Torsten Schmidt is the vice president of Marketing Chemical at Kraton corporation. Torsten is an experienced professional business manager who is ethical and always externally focused thereby ensuring that no stone is left unturned in growing the companies business
1. In the light of your experience, what are the trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening with respect to the Manufacturing Coating space?
a. First, we have seen government agencies imposed regulations on the usage of hydrocarbon or petrochemical raw materials, driving the growth of renewable alternatives that deliver equivalent performance with less environmental impact. Second, formulators are striving to reduce VOC in their products and moving towards high solid, water-based powder coating technology. Third, manufacturers are more aware of how certain ingredients may potentially be harmful to workers and consumers, so they are investing in innovation to reformulate. Finally, introducing new technologies or alternative materials on current systems may result in lower performance, so formulators are investing substantial time and resources to meet growing marketing demands. These trends are occurring globally, which is driving the market toward sustainable solutions.
2. Could you elaborate on some interesting and impactful project/initiatives that you’re currently overseeing?
a. We are supporting the industry by offering more sustainable raw materials without the need to compromise on performances. Our 100 percent biobased materials are: made from renewable sources, non-GMO (not genetically modified), non-food, have a chain of custody allowing us to trace their origin, and require minimal land-use changes. Our pine-derived raw materials offer coating producers the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint through 1:1 substitution of other vegetable, renewable sources such as soy. Through the use of our SYLFAT™ tall oil fatty acid (TOFA) raw materials, the industry doesn’t need to compromise on performances to get sustainability since our products outperform alternatives on most coating applications.
3. What are some of the points of discussion that go on in your leadership panel? What are the strategic points that you go by to steer the company forward?
a. As a leading global producer of pine-based chemicals, Kraton has a unique position to address the growing need for biobased raw materials. We strive to increase the awareness of renewable products that Kraton offers and help value chain customers be more informed about the sustainable choices available. Therefore, we launched an animated video this year to explain the sustainable aspects of our SYLFAT™ TOFA offering for the coatings market.
b. Increasing the industry awareness on sustainability should be a priority of all companies that wish to grow. Sustainability is essential in meeting market demand and enabling innovation and differentiation. It enhances productivity, forcing formulators to be more efficient in resource use. Moreover, making products/processes more sustainable minimize negative environmental or social impacts that cause operational downtime, costs and damaged brand reputation.
4. How do you see the evolution of the Manufacturing Coating arena a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?
a. Sustainability is becoming a key business driver for the market. Biobased materials, in particular, are expected to be a game-changer in the coming years as coating formulators transition from non-renewable materials to sustainable solutions. We believe that biobased solutions will eventually be the standard product of choice, not an alternative option. Companies that can meet these expectations will cement their leadership position within the industry as the supplier of choice.
5. What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?
a. The coatings market is changing rapidly. Aspiring professionals must have a solid understanding of how regulations impact market conditions today and in the future. Stay updated on consumer demands in key markets, as their expectations will drive pressure upstream to formulators and manufacturers. The emergence of sustainability means that companies and individuals can no longer operate alone. Industry collaboration will be key to success for all stakeholders in the value chain.