Two years ago, Larry Weissman was hired by Shamrock Technologies owner Bill Neuberg to become the company’s new CEO and president. Mr. Weissman had followed the same path taken by Jack Gallagher, who had left Elementis after it had purchased Rheox six months earlier to become vice president of worldwide sales.
Mr. Weissman had an enviable track record at Rheox. Under his leadership, the company expanded its product line from 62 to 155 offerings, and changed its primarily solvent-based offerings to a more balanced product line. This led to a dramatically increased value of $465 million by the time it was acquired by Elementis.
Mr. Weissman was brought in by Shamrock to oversee its expansion. Today, Shamrock is offering dispersed powders for the first time, has expanded its R&D capabilities, and its McKinley–Henderson, KY plant passed ISO 9002 audit. In addition, Shamrock is building European headquarters, laboratory and production facilities in Tongeren, Belgium which should be completed by February.
Mr. Weissman said that Shamrock recognizes the global nature of the market today, and that recognition must be one of the key drivers in the company’s planning.
“Our company is driven by four different things: globalization, protecting core markets, developing new markets and creating alliances,” Mr. Weissman said. “The first driver is globalizing our sales; most of our customers are located outside the U.S. These companies have become very international. If you can’t supply the same product in all locations, they don’t want to deal with you. We’re going to have to be all that customers want in every part of the world. This is an enormous challenge.”
New Products And People
Mr. Weissman said that the second driver is to grow present businesses. “We are going to protect our core businesses and help them grow, and you do that by developing improved products that increase your technical capabilities,” Mr. Weissman said. “We didn’t have a sizable technical group, and we’ve doubled the size in the last two years.
“You have to identify what customers need,” Mr. Weissman continued. “For example, the ink industry wants dispersed powders. We’ve come up with a new family of products, which improves dispersability and applies to more substrates. It’s a matter of patience, putting people in place and a little bit of luck.”
“We have always been known for our powders, but customers need to make it into a dispersion,” said Joon Choo, director of marketing worldwide, ink. “Now we are making a commitment to provide dispersions. We’ve made the investment to R&D to provide dispersions across the board in any wet systems.”
The other two drivers to growth, developing new lines and alliances, are also important. “We can add to our ink and coatings business by getting into other areas, such as plastics, grease and lubricants, and cosmetics,” Mr. Weissman continued. “Fourth, you can create alliances and acquisitions that will add to your technology.”
With these new pieces in place, Mr. Weissman expects a bright future for Shamrock.
“We now have spent close to $10 million in capital investments, and another $10 million underway in Europe,” Mr. Weissman said. “My job is to allocate resources, and let people do things that allow them to contribute to the organization.
“Bill Neuberg and I have had many talks, and he is the motivating force,” Mr. Weissman concluded. “Bill wanted to see the company grow. I’m an engineer, and I like to build things. I am looking forward to how it turns out.”
Shamrock Moves Forward
By David Savastano, Editor