A Conversation With Andy Harris – President and CEO, Accella Performance Materials
By Jen Kramer
A focus on the customer and ”Centers of Excellence” have pushed Accella Performance Materials to the top of the polyurethane industry. Spray Foam Magazine sat down with Andy Harris, Accella’s President and CEO, in an exclusive interview to discuss the company that is playing such a large role in driving the industry forward and his vision for the future.
Spray Foam Magazine: How did you come to be at the helm of one of the biggest companies in the spray polyurethane foam industry?
Andy Harris: First I am very grateful to be involved with our team at Accella and Arsenal Capital. I have been involved with the chemical industry my entire career, and especially specialty chemicals and services that offer strong value propositions (versus commodities). We created a strategic vision and plan that began seven years ago to build the leading polyurethane systems house, and that vision is becoming reality. It took a few years of planning to get started in 2013.
SFM: When did you come on board with Accella?
AH: Late December 2012 working with the acquisition of Dash Multi-Corp, which was the foundation for Accella.
SFM: What makes Accella the forward-thinking, innovative company that it is?
AH: The customer is at the core of Accella – combined with our sharp focus on polyurethane technology to serve their needs. Imagine the world without polyurethane: From bowling balls, to skateboard wheels, to rigid decorative trim, to flooring, to heavy duty protective coatings, to automotive components, to spray foam. Our people and products impact each and every one one of our lives on a daily basis, just about every minute of every day. Our passion is a focus on solutions for our customers and we constantly seek ways to improve our customer’s bottom line and increase their productivity to bring better solutions to all of us. Accomplishing this task takes great people and passion. We have assembled the “best in class” for the industries we serve. We also have a strong employee-centric, empowered culture, which in turn invigorates our employees to take great care of our customers and develop new ways to better do so. Accella has over 43 years of experience in polyurethane technology working alongside our customers in product development. Having the best people with the right “service mentality,” with the proper resources, and with a collaborative mission to improve our customer’s profitability and productivity is how we approach our day, every day.
SFM: As Accella’s President and CEO, what is your day-to-day objective? How do you achieve it?
AH: My daily (and overall) objective is to do my best to “do the right thing” serving my family, our employees, and our customers – and to have fun doing it. If all of our employees think and feel on a daily basis that they make a positive difference as a part of our company’s impact on helping our customers better serve the many needs of people all over the world, then we will be wildly successful. By doing this, I believe employee opportunity/fulfillment, customer satisfaction, and returns to our shareholders will be nicely realized.
SFM: Tell us about Accella Performance Materials. You are driving the industry forward with innovation and technical expertise. How is this being accomplished?
AH: Accella Performance Materials is a strategic combination of various polyurethane-based technologies, systems, and solutions, which are being further developed. The company has well-known brands and technologies that include both polyurethane and recycled rubber products (which helps to fulfill our belief in sustainability and “green” values). Accella currently has over 20 dedicated polyurethane chemists on our team with a combined 400+ years of experience and many are recognized as industry leaders in their field. We are focused on markets we strive to understand very well, such as spray foam, tire fill, specialty polyurethanes systems (CASE), and customized recycled rubber products – and what those markets will require in the future. In each of these important areas, we have “centers of excellence” for R&D and manufacturing that are sharply focused on each of these key customer markets and needs. We’ve invested millions of dollars in the past three years to improve our laboratories and manufacturing facilities with capacity and flexibility; as well as our infrastructure and IT systems to support innovation and growth. We have also invested in expanding our sales and technical service teams to better support our customers and expand geographic/market coverage. Accella’s heritage and culture is to be, and remain, entrepreneurial, responsive, and fast with the scale/resources in order to be very competitive.Regarding the spray foam industry, Accella focuses heavily on application expertise from our sales and technical professionals. Many have managed and run spray foam businesses on their own before joining Accella. As a result, Accella provides leading-edge industry knowledge and a unique understanding of market needs and drivers, as well as state and federal regulatory trends and environmental issues. Accella, and our heritage companies, are recognized as providing the most cost-effective, user-friendly products in the industry. To the contractor, this means easy-to-spray, wide application windows, and less down time. As an example of driving the industry forward, Accella recently announced the QuadFoam® NeXGen® continuing its leadership role by being the first company to pass the UL NFPA 285 test with the latest HFO blowing agent technology. This new hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blowing agent is one of the most environmentally friendly blowing agents produced, with a zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and a global warming potential (GWP) of 1, which is more than two orders of magnitude (99.9%) lower than current HFCs used in this industry. This new blowing agent is one of the most environmentally friendly blowing agents produced.We have an “invest and grow” strategy based on the needs and growth of our customers.
SFM: What is Accella’s strategy for continued growth and success – from the beginning until now?
AH: Our mission is to improve our customer’s profitability, growth, and productivity as a focused, premier polyurethane systems provider. To do so, we need to have the right people, technologies, and locations, in addition to providing responsiveness and highly compelling value for our customers. We believe our ability to deliver from multiple locations across the U.S., investing in R&D, increasing our manufacturing capacity, expanding our sales and service teams, and providing quick turn-around from our best-in-class facilities creates the valuable solutions our customers need to drive their bottom line.
SFM: How is Accella’s relationship with acquired partners? With applicators?
AH: We believe that those companies/partners who become part of Accella and our strategy are able to “do more and be more” than they were otherwise able to do. This includes customers, suppliers, and acquisitions. Since our focus is on the customer and long-term relationships, we place a high priority on maintaining continuity and business as usual with an acquisition, while implementing the gains Accella will bring to the relationship. We leverage the unique value, skill sets, and technologies of our partners/acquired companies and employees to build even greater value for our customers. This is especially true with our supplier partners. We have strong relationships with strategic suppliers to bring the best R&D and product development to the market, yielding high quality products and the most competitive value for our customers. Targeted investments in operations, R&D, systems, and technical service increase our capability to drive continued synergistic value for our customers. As we have grown, we deliver greater value to applicators as their need for high-quality, consistent, reliable product, and technical field support in both product and regulatory issues continues to deepen.
SFM: What specific markets does Accella target and serve?
AH: Specific to SPF, Accella serves the spray foam insulation markets for new construction; retrofit markets for both residential and commercial applications. We also serve commercial applications for roofing, both new and rehab.
SFM: What does the future hold for Accella?
AH: This depends on how well we serve our customers. As we leverage Accella’s core capabilities and deepen our resources in polyurethane systems, we believe the future is very bright and we are well positioned. We will continue to invest in the company, our people, and facilities to be the best choice.
SFM: What is your outlook for the SPF industry in the coming years?
AH: By all measures, the spray foam industry is robust and expected to continue to grow as a preferred alternative to other less-effective, traditional methods of insulation. Especially, as global consumers seek solutions that provide significant energy cost savings and a preferred overall impact on the global environment. •
Photos Courtesy of Accella Performance Materials