While the name OMNOVA is less than 20 years old, the company’s roots go back to 1915 when The General Tire and Rubber Company was founded in Akron, Ohio by William F O’Neil. For over 100 years using science to enhance the performance of products has been at the heart of what the company does. We hear from Anne Noonan, President and Chief Executive Officer about how LI’s products are helping OMNOVA Solutions stay ahead in today’s global marketplace, and what our business partnership means to them.

OMNOVA employee at work

Beginning with a summary

Anne Noonan began with a summary of what OMNOVA Solutions is all about today. She said: “We are in the business of improving brand experiences. We apply chemical and material science to develop emulsion polymers, specialty chemicals and functional and decorative surfaces that enhance the performance of our customers’ products around the world.

While we are exclusively a business-to-business provider, we understand that our customers look to us to help them offer unique performance advantages that will build their branded products in the marketplace. That’s why we say we are The Science in Better Brands. Our Performance Chemicals business unit has worked hard over the past two years to strengthen the processes that are focused on listening to customers, responding with differentiated specialty solutions, and cost-effectively delivering products that reflect our commitment to quality.

I don’t mean to imply that we are perfect, but we believe that perfection in servicing our customers is a worthy goal to strive for!”

How are LI’s products used?

OMNOVA buys LI’s methacrylate monomers to create polymers or chemicals that go into a wide variety of specialty coating applications: architectural, intumescent (fire resistant), industrial, textile, ink receptive (printable), graphic arts, as well as into floor polishes and adhesives. They are also used in polymer binders for PET, glass and cellulose fibres. Its coatings have helped protect some of the world’s most iconic structures  including sports venues such as Wimbledon’s Centre Court and the Sochi Winter Olympics stadium, plus famous landmarks and hotels, towering bridges and skyscrapers, and contemporary transport terminals across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. OMNOVA’s oil & gas business uses methacrylate monomers in polymeric additives in a wide range of drilling fluids that address the challenges of deep sea and onshore drilling environments, for example, the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, the Middle East and US shale.

Why does OMNOVA choose to partner with LI?

Anne continued: “We’re a global company and it’s important for us to work with a supplier able to offer global solutions. LI offers that global approach but also provides dedicated local supply chain services that accommodate the different requirements we have from site to site and region to region. For example, LI’s UK team worked with us to understand our logistics and forecasting model, which resulted in us achieving the best possible service for our French operation in Le Havre. This was extremely important for OMNOVA to reach a high level of confidence in LI’s supply chain for domestic as well as imported products. We also like the stability of the commercial and supply chain team and appreciate having dedicated LI representatives who know our team very well.

Last but not least, LI, as a market leader offers multiple options in terms of source of supply and supply risk mitigation.”

Man painting wall with roller

How important is innovation?

OMNOVA’s approach to innovation is rooted in a strong understanding of markets, trends, and customer needs, and where listening to customers plays a critical role. Innovation that results from this understanding can relate to processes, service models, supply chain management, and new technologies. Anne explained: “The latter two are where OMNOVA and LI can work together to offer unique ideas and chemistries that help our customers’ products stand out in the marketplace. Speaking more specifically about

technical innovation, our goal is for OMNOVA to be viewed as the preferred provider of sustainable, greener, high performance specialty polymers and chemicals. So we target specialty markets or market segments that value innovation. Our approach is to build a core of platform technologies that we can then customize across a broad set of applications in key markets. We are always looking for ways to leverage OMNOVA’s polymer design expertise to diversify and enter adjacent or new markets. We believe one of the most important elements of our approach is our agility and willingness to collaborate with customers on innovation that meets their specific needs. This sets us apart from larger chemical companies that don’t want to take the time and smaller companies that don’t have the portfolio, global capability and scale.”

Biggest driver for OMNOVA today

The company is working toward one common goal: profitable specialty growth that allows OMNOVA to reach its full potential. This includes consistently applying the ‘excellence’ processes covered above and making the most of footprint realignment. Anne concluded: “It means effectively anticipating trends and developing cost-competitive products and services that address critical needs. It means coming to work each day ready to serve our customers, with a focus on employee safety, opportunity and teamwork. We can’t afford one major driver. In today’s world, we must do all of the important things well.”