CLEVELAND—R.D. Abbott Co. Inc. is making several moves that it said will help it more effectively serve its customer base in North America.
The full service supplier of elastomers, chemicals and related equipment and services to the rubber industry has realigned its commercial sales team and also broadened its distribution agreements with a number of its supplier partners to cover all of North America.
The move to restructure its commercial team into two units will enhance the Cerritos, Calif.-based firm's market focus, according to President Keith Thomas, who spoke about the changes along with other company officials at the recent ACS Rubber Division International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland.
The Performance Polymers team will have account and product managers who will work with the organic elastomers and rubber chemicals business. Those on the Integrated Solutions unit, likewise, will focus on silicone, polyurethanes, lab equipment and ancillary supplies.
Thomas said the changes reflect how his firm focuses on both the "why" and "how" of the business.
The "why," he said, remains constant.
"R.D. Abbott has a foundation that never changes, as reflected in our mission/vision/values, which informs all other decisions," Thomas said. "We do our best to live it out, to put our people and the service of others first, to focus on developing products and technologies that help our customers, and to focus exclusively on the rubber industry without distraction. This is our 'why.'"
It's the "how" of the business where the realignment of the commercial teams come into focus.
The Performance Polymers team will have main responsibility for the known products and solutions in the rubber industry. "They focus on the black rubber side of the business," he said. "They seek to advance the volume side of our business."
The Integrated Solutions group is more of an engineering team that will work with customers and focus on problems and how to combine some of R.D. Abbott's more highly formulated products to solve them, according to Thomas.
The new setup reflects how the firm had self-organized, he said. A number of R.D. Abbott staff had come from such companies as Bayer, Lanxess, Arlanxeo and Rhein Chemie, and they had formed a bit of a nucleus. Another group had prior experience at Dow and Dow Corning, Lord Corp. and others.
Somebody on staff recognized that and said it would be helpful to set up a more formal structure to reflect the division of skill sets, and that led to the realignment.
"They have different approaches to the market, and the customers need both," Thomas said.
Thus far feedback has been positive, said Scott Kearns, R.D. Abbott's chief operating officer.
"Customers are happy because they're very aligned to individuals who meet the skill sets that are needed for their businesses," he said. "And our suppliers have been quite pleased. It's really just taking our team's skill sets and aligning them to the business that they know the best."
He added that the firm still will be selling the entire portfolio through both groups. "If one group identifies particular opportunities the other group is better suited to assist with, we'll bring them in to help with the customers. It's very much a team approach," Kearns said.
Updated distribution pacts
Besides expanding the scope of its distribution pacts with several of its suppliers, R.D. Abbott also reached agreement with China's Dalian Richon Chem Co. Ltd. to exclusively represent the firm's complete line of rubber accelerators in North America.
Thomas said Dalian Richon is the fourth-largest producer of rubber chemicals in the world and has a broad product portfolio. He added that R.D. Abbott parted ways with its prior supplier of rubber chemicals—he declined to identify them—to sign on with the Chinese firm.
In a period where tightened environmental regulations are causing shutdowns and supply issues among China's chemical industry, Dalian Richon has opened a fully compliant factory that offers supply assurance, Thomas said.
"Dalian Richon has been way out in front of (environmental issues), so we feel it's a secure source of supply," he said. "They've struggled with penetrating the North American market, so we've offered to bring their product in."
Kearns said R.D. Abbott has been cultivating the partnership for the past two years, and currently is in the meet-and-greet phase of introducing them to potential customers. "They are qualified with some of the major tire companies and automotive suppliers," he said. "But they've had no real footprint in North America at this point."
Thomas said R.D. Abbott knows the price points and customer requirements of the rubber chemicals sector, so he is confident the firm can grow the Dalian Richon business significantly.
Liu Xoaofeng, one of Dalian's Richon's owners and managers, was on hand at the IEC to help with the marketing efforts.
R.D. Abbott also said it expanded the scope of its distribution agreements with Arlanxeo's tire and specialty rubbers business, and Hallstar. Kearns said these are all long-term relationships where the company now has increased responsibilities within North America.
The main focus will be on technical rubber goods within the automotive, industrial sealing, pharmaceutical, aerospace and construction segments.
Thomas said many of the firm's supplier partners are launching significant new product platforms that will expand what is possible in rubber processing and use. In addition, R.D. Abbott is working on some new technologies, largely through collaboration with its suppliers.
"By combining the broad expertise found in our partners with our own unique skills and perspective, we hope to address the pressing concerns of our customers, including worker safety, lightweighting, electrification and energy efficiency, to name a few."