Choo relocated from the United States to Malaysia in 1996 to establish Shamrock Technologies (Asia), Inc., which led to the set-up of the first Shamrock China plant and an expanded global sales network.
He returned to the US in 1999 as director of Marketing.
Q: How did Shamrock get into the coatings and inks business?
A: It started in the 50s when Shamrock introduced powdered Polymekon to flexographic ink. In the 60s, Bill Neuberg visited Sinclair & Valentine in Secaucus, New Jersey, and learned how to test a wax for use in inks. In working with Dominic Raco and Bill Foster, micronized waxes were soon introduced to improve the rub resistance of flexo, letterpress, and offset printing inks.
Q: What is the company culture like at Shamrock?
A: Shamrock started with a driven curiosity to innovate and serve customers, based on fundamental principles of good science. We quickly recognized the value of the management principles espoused by the WL Gore organization, where a relatively flat structure would enable efficient technical and business development to support rapid growth for a small-sized company. These principles encourage freedom to make individual commitments aligned with the organization's goals while ensuring that our associates are thriving in an atmosphere of fairness and collaborative work and supporting each other to avoid “waterline” situations that would sink the organization. We have adapted these basic principles to align with the work cultures of our associates in the different sites in Newark, Kentucky, Belgium and China.
Q: How has the company changed in the recent years to meet the demands of a changing market?
A: As Shamrock grew, we realized the need for continuous improvement, not only in the organization but also in our products and processes. One of our key mantras is “make and sell the right product”. The European Chemicals Agency had published limitations on the amount of pfoa in PTFE micro-powder, which came into effect July 2020. In preparation for this, Shamrock had to develop the testing and remediation technologies to ensure that our SST® and other trademarked PTFE micro-powders would indeed be “right”, and to be in compliance. We have successfully launched our RC (Regulatory Compliant) products on a global scale, and we have very quickly upscaled our processes and technologies at our Belgium and China facilities to manufacture these RC grades. Our focus is not stopping there, as we continue to further hone our processes to approach non-detectable PFOA limits so that our customers would be assured of future compliance as well. This has also hastened the development of alternatives to PTFE, for the various industries we currently serve, and there is a definite air of excitement among our development teams over the past 3 years, as we prepare to roll out new prototypes that provide similar slip and abrasion performance features.
Q: What new changes are being made in the Shamrock organization?
A: Bill Neuberg has always been a strong proponent of change as a means for growth. In that light, we bought Astro-American Emulsions last summer, with the intent of spring-boarding the capabilities there to new growth opportunities for us. In the process of our integration, we have uncovered new synergies that have enabled us to launch a new series of products that we trademarked “Dismulsion," which, as the name suggests, combines our powdering capabilities with the emulsions, to make hybrid pre-dispersed products capable of delivering the benefits of both the sub-micron, as well as micron-sized particles to the coatings and allied markets. These stable, easy-to-incorporate products pave the way for our customers to dial in the benefits of slip, clarity, abrasion, water-repellency, texturing, tacticity, and so on.
Q: What are the latest technologies being developed in your R&D?
A: As mentioned earlier, we continue to improve further the technology to ensure our products will be future compliant when it comes to PFOA. Another recent development in the launch of the Dismulsion® line is the flexibility to shift our raw material feedstocks towards more sustainable, bio-based products, and we are now heavily investing in expanding our production capabilities to support the fast-growing market demand. This is also enabling the use of pre-dispersed biobased products in emerging markets on the digital print front.
Q: How does Shamrock contribute to a greener planet?
A: Shamrock is one of the founding members of the PTFE Recycling Coalition, as we started the trend of using post-industrial PTFE to make the industry standard SST product lines. We developed the technology of efficiently using the Electron Beam to tailor the specific properties required for successful re-purposing. This process route obviates the need or dependence on prime virgin PTFE resin, which incidentally costs about 10kg of CO2 emission per kg of PTFE being polymerized. In the recycling we have achieved over the past 40 years, we have prevented the release of over 1.5 billion lbs of CO2 emissions, while also preventing the landfill of over 150 million lbs of PTFE scrap.
Q: What do you envision in the future for Shamrock?
A: Shamrock will continue to evolve to be a leading supplier of sustainable specialty products to the markets we serve. This means we will invest in the emerging technologies aligned with the light-weighting of automobiles, responsible recycling and re-purposing of PTFE and other materials, use of sustainable bio-based materials, and with the use of green energy. To this end, we are in the process of setting up a windmill in our Belgium facility, to power our site, and to share with the grid, renewable, carbon-free energy.
Learn more about us at www.shamrocktechnologies.com