Lubrizol has been steadily building its presence in thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) and polyurethane elastomers since the firm bought Noveon, formerly BFGoodrich, in 2004. Simon Robinson talks to Timothy Madden about the firm's strategy
Lubrizol has gained deep historical roots in polyurethane elastomers. The firm's position started to grow when it purchased Noveon, which owned polyurethane assets of BF-Goodrich, the firm which first developed TPUs in 1959. In 2011, Lubrizol purchased Merquinsa, located in Barcelona, Spain.
Merquinsa is one part of Lubrizol’s polyurethane portfolio which has grown steadily by acquisition. Before the purchase of Noveon in 2004, Lubrizol’s business was confined to making lubricating oils used in the automotive industry and a range of other business sectors.
The Noveon purchase was a game changer for the firm, taking Lubrizol in to a new business direction. “There were a lot of major brands inside Noveon,” said Timothy Madden, Managing Director, Estane Engineered Polymers EMEAI and LifeSciences EMEA for Lubrizol.
“They had interest in the brands and maybe the deep understanding came after the purchase,” said Madden.
That purchase prompted Lubrizol to grow its portfolio of polyurethanes for CASE applications.
Lubrizol also strengthened it polyurethane portfolio with the purchase of SK Chemicals’ polyurethane elastomer business in 2008. Its purchase of Merquinsa in 2011 gave it access to technology developed at the company over fifty years.
This portfolio of purchases makes it one of the largest polyurethane elastomer players worldwide.
Lubrizol’s corporate headquarters is in the US. Lubrizol has two segments Lubrizol Additives and Lubrizol Advanced Materials.
The lubricants business, which makes up a large proportion of the Addtitives segment, is the historical heart of Lubrizol and has enabled it to become close to the automotive industry.
Lubrizol will continue to expand through strategic purchases and bolt-on additions, said Madden. Lubrizol is part of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway company. Almost simultaneously with Lubrizol’s purchase of Merquinsa in 2011, Lubrizol was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway.
In addition to driving the European business, Madden has a number of geographical targets and business has a number of key industrial markets in its sights.
Madden, who has wide experience with management spent time in China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and most recently India, sees India as a key growth area.