Five minutes at Sepawa with …
H&PC: What are you presenting here at Sepawa 2017?
Martine Dols: Our motto this year is “Bigger than ever”. That is because we have a bigger booth than last year, Sepawa is bigger than last year, and in 2017 we became a sustaining member of the Sepawa. As Kolb, here we are promoting two brands: Kotilen (sorbitan ester ethoxylates) and Kosteran (sorbitan esters). In particular our Kosteran line of products is made from vegetable, renewable sources and are emulsifiers/co-emulsifiers for personal care – but they can also work as dispersant and antifogging agents.
H&PC: As a European company now owned by a Malaysian group does this change your culture?
MD: Definitely. Of course it makes a big difference, but it is a very positive one. We used to be a family owned private business from Switzerland and, after the ownership change, our production capacity dramatically increased and our business model also changed. Kolb chose the right partner to buy the company, sharing the same values – KLK OLEO is a family founded company, too. Now we are much more international, shifting our company language from German to English. We have different cultures in our company and our market dynamics is much globalized.
H&PC: What drives Kolb demand and what do you expect from the future?
MD: Because of the volatility of the natural based fatty alcohols, people are moving back to synthetic products. Some cannot reformulate, some can: those who can tend to switch to the synthetic again.
H&PC: This is surprising, since in HPC natural products seem a constant trend.
MD: There is a lot of exposure on natural products for image reasons, but for commodity products it is different. Note also that we serve more markets than personal and home care.
H&PC: What about the sustainability then?
MD: Of course we have a very strong focus on sustainability since many years. KLK Malaysia is focusing on this a lot; KLK is one of the founding members of RSPO for example. We offer RSPO-certified products. We are committed to the twelve principles of green chemistry, and we do a lot in terms of corporate social responsibility.
H&PC: Do you see any regulatory challenges coming up in the future?
MD: REACH is coming up next year and this is definitely an issue. EcoLabel remains a very important topic and we see that the regulatory demand for company sustainable business is growing. To really cover for all the demands is kind of tough.
H&PC: What makes Kolb unique and what are your plans for the future?
MD: Kolb now belongs to a large company, but we still have this small/medium enterprise set up and thus very short communication lines. If a customer comes to us to want something quickly, we offer a kind of speed in custom manufacturing that not many competitors can offer in this field. We are strengthening our manufacturing setup and supply chain , for example by investing in additional tanks, more loading and unloading capacity for boats and trains at our site in Moerdijk. That is something very important in HPC: you cannot have a situation where you suddenly cannot produce your laundry detergent because one of your suppliers is blocked. And that is what we can do.