After joining Lanxess in July 2015, Papadourakis helped implement in North America the strategy he had discussed with Zachert and van Roessel, beginning with a series of partnerships and acquisitions. First came a 50/50 joint venture with Saudi Aramco called ARLANXEO, which would support Lanxess’s synthetic rubber business. Next came acquisitions of the clean and disinfect business from Chemours, and then a $2.7 billion acquisition of specialty chemical manufacturer Chemtura. In February 2018, Lanxess acquired the U.S. phosphorus additives business from Solvay.
“These acquisitions are fully in line with our strategy because they expanded our position in some of our core markets and provided us with more leading positions,” Papadourakis says. The Chemtura acquisition grew Lanxess’s business in flame retardants and lubricant additives, but also included two new business units—organometallics and urethane systems—that fit the company’s strategic criteria: North American growth in midsize, specialty markets that were less cyclical in nature.
QUALITY, SAFETY, AND SUSTAINABILITY
Lanxess will continue to participate in the consolidation of the chemical market. But as Lanxess seeks to build its brand with a focus on quality in products, services, and innovation, Papadourakis says he’s turning his attention to the company’s culture as well.
“Our top priority is safety—the health and safety of our employees, the safety of our processes, the protection of our environment, and the safety of our community,” Papadourakis says.
Lanxess is also focusing on innovation—not just in products, but also in processes. An example is in the company’s inorganic pigments business unit. For the production of unique yellowish-red iron oxide pigments, Lanxess developed a new process called Ningbo, named after the Ningbo, China, plant, which is the first built to use the technology at a commercial scale.
Credit: LANXESS AG
To produce a new range of yellowish-red iron oxide pigments, Lanxess developed a new process that significantly reduces nitrous oxide produced while also extending the product offering.
A traditional manufacturing process for iron oxide red pigments produces nitrous oxide emissions. The Ningbo production process, which is based on patented technology, covers the entire color spectrum of ironoxide pigments in the medium and yellowish red color range. By optimizing production, the Ningbo process significantly reduces volumes of nitrous oxide produced compared to traditional iron oxide red production procedures. Furthermore, using a multi-stage wastewater treatment process, more than 80% of the wastewater is cleaned and recycled back into the process.
The plant is not only sustainable, with a much smaller environmental footprint, but also offers product innovations. “It enables a considerable extension of our product offering,” Papadourakis says.
Such innovations that drive growth through responsible care and sustainability will be vital not only for the growth of Lanxess, but for the entire chemical industry, Papadourakis says. Together, he says, the industry can demonstrate, “we are offering solutions to help society move and grow in a sustainable way.” ■