Volume 35, Number 5, May 2000


Royal-Sized Expansion:
Elf Atochem Opens New Center

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Elf Atochem North America Inc. officially opened the doors of its new Polymer Technology Center on March 30. The center, residing on the 42-acre Elf Atochem King of Prussia Research Campus, includes 11 additional Research & Development buildings and more than 300,000-square-feet of laboratories, offices and pilot facilities. The new facility centralizes R&D and technical support for the company’s performance polymers business units in the United States.

The decision to consolidate resources in King of Prussia meant a $15 million dollar investment for Elf Atochem: the company’s top executives said the investment was a wise one. “A new and exciting chapter in polymers begins today,” said Louis Hegedus, vice president of research and development.

“The Polymer Technology Center works closely with other laboratories and pilot plants within the King of Prussia research campus and with their counterparts around the world. Centralizing our performance polymers R&D in one North American location will further improve synergies as our scientists with diverse backgrounds interact,” he said.

The new center serves as a key resource in a network of polymer R&D and technical service centers of the recently merged Elf Aquitaine and Totalfina parent companies, reaching from the United States to Europe and Japan. As the performance polymer R&D arm, the center serves as the focus of research, development, and technical service for the three business units within performance polymers: technical polymers, Atoglas Division, and functional polymers.

Hegedus noted that the center covers the full spectrum of performance polymers research and development activities, including projects in their conceptual, feasibility, developmental, and commercialization phases. He adds that the new U.S. facility complements several worldwide centers that specialize in R&D for sister products within the line.

Dr. Ryan Dirkx, R&D director, who heads up research at the new center, said the facility contains a wide variety of commercial scale production equipment to support customer operations. In fact, production equipment, located in the high bay process area of the building, occupies about a third of the facility. In addition, the facility contains several physical testing and accelerated weathering laboratories, which support the three performance polymers business units.

Rich Rowe, president of Perform-ance Polymers in North America, mentioned the center’s consumer-oriented focus as well. “Our focus is on core markets, where we can deliver measurable, differentiated value,” said Rowe. “In this sense we want to be a significant factor in our customers’ growth and success.”

Dirkx notes that this interaction with customers often leads to more basic development work. “With this kind of real world feedback we’ll return to the synthesis labs where we modify polymer structure to gain further performance improvements,” he said.

Memorial Fund Keeps Jim Dwyer Jr.’s Spirit Alive

After Jim Dwyer Jr., a young man at age 31, died unexpectedly of cardiac failure, his family wanted to honor his life and memory. Based in Syracuse, N.Y., where Dwyer was in management with Syracuse Glass Company, The James J. Dwyer Jr. Memorial Fund has been organized by his family to keep his memory and spirit alive. One of its first actions was to donate three Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) to Syracuse University and two AED’s to Lemoyne University. The family believes the availability of an AED may have helped Jim Dwyer when his heart suddenly stopped.

The fund has established the James J. Dwyer Jr. Scholarship Award to be awarded annually to a senior at Corcoran High School in Syracuse. The $1,000 scholarship will be presented to a college-bound senior who exemplifies the spirit and character of Dwyer by his or her involvement in school and community activities.

The fund is also active in community involvement. Money has been donated to the Kwanzaa Park in Syracuse and a tree was planted to replace lost trees in Onondaga Park. Additionally, a neighborhood family was adopted last Christmas with presents given in Jim’s name.

Dwyer died at the NGA Auto Conference in Memphis in September 1998.

TRACO Expands Manufacturing Operations

TRACO, based in Cranberry Township, Pa., announced the opening of a new 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Merced, Calif. Coupled with its recent expansion to Johnson City, Tenn., the company says it can now offer faster service and delivery coast-to-coast. The new locations join the company’s list of facilities located in Pennsylvania, Red Oak, Iowa, Miami and Wuhan, China.


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