Thermoset Resin Formulators Association (TRFA)
Much more than epoxies
Business View Magazine interviews representatives of TRFA (Thermoset Resin Formulators Association) for our focus on Domestic Manufacturing & the Resin Industry.
The Thermoset Resin Formulators Association (TRFA) was founded in 2002 to help thermoset resin formulators and suppliers achieve their goals, by providing a forum for sharing and interaction. Thermoset Resin Formulators Association is the only organization dedicated to serving the needs and interests of all thermoset formulators and has a broader focus than just epoxy. Other chemistries the Association represents include polyester and vinyl ester composites, urethane, silicone, acrylic, and phenolics.
Prospective member companies in Thermoset Resin Formulators Association are thermoset formulators, raw material suppliers, distributors, equipment manufacturers, consulting firms, and academic institutions – serving industries as varied as adhesives, coatings, civil engineering applications, electrical laminates, composites, tooling, castings, and moldings. TRFA members receive the most benefit when taking an active role in the Association by participating in specific market-focused committees in which their company has the greatest interest. Those four committees are: Adhesives and Sealants; Coatings, Civil Engineering, and Flooring; Composites and Tooling; and Potting, Encapsulation, and Electrical.
Business View Magazine recently spoke with Thermoset Resin Formulators Association Executive Director, Jerilyn J. Church, CAE; TRFA President, Timothy Atkinson; and TRFA Past President, Julie Mongeluzi, about the Association’s mission, member benefits, and insights into the Thermoset Resin industry. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
BVM: Can you give us some background on the Thermoset Resin Formulators Association and its current mandate?
Church: “The TRFA is in its 17th year. The previous group was the Epoxy Resin Formulators, a division of the SPI (Society of Plastics Industry). Our original mandate was to broaden the Association spectrum from epoxy to a full thermoset resin base and to provide a forum for formulators and suppliers to get together and learn from one another. The TRFA mission has four strategic objectives to provide value for member companies by facilitating educational and networking opportunities and sharing innovative epoxy and other thermoset industry advancements.
“We get together at our Annual Meeting once a year, which is followed by a Short Course. This year we’re expanding that educational portion by offering a Deep Dive, two-day educational event on Additive Manufacturing, immediately following the Annual Meeting, April 7 – 9, 2019 in Charleston, South Carolina. The Annual Meeting includes technical paper presentations by industry experts addressing many different areas of thermoset resin. And then our Deep Dive educational event focuses on a specific area, such as this year’s Additive Manufacturing topic, which is a two day learning event taught by two Virginia Tech professors, Dr. Chris Williams and Dr. Tim Long.
BVM: What are the biggest challenges facing your members in the industry?
Mongeluzi: “I would say that regulatory is a big issue. A lot of our customers are formulating and selling in the U.S. but also selling into Latin America, Canada, Europe, and the Pacific. So, keeping on top of the global economy and environmental regulations attached to the industry is a challenge, especially for smaller companies; along with supply and demand dynamics, and complexities in chemistry that have an impact on raw materials.”
Atkinson: “Our organization membership includes everyone from suppliers in multi-billion dollar international companies like the Olin Corporation to formulators like Pro-Set Epoxy that are in one location. There is a common set of regulations, but formulators deal with customer-facing regulations, as well. There is a lot of complexity there. Understanding the whole supply chain, as a formulator, has helped me through the years. There are a lot of mergers and acquisitions going on, so the TRFA has been a good resource that way.”
Church: “We don’t have a lobbyist on staff, or representing us, but we work closely with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and keep our members informed on those issues. We’ve signed onto amicus briefs, etc. through the ACC, and we’ve worked with Tom Dobbins of American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), and other organizations, when it’s appropriate. We also have a booth at one or two trade shows a year to maintain a presence and collaborate with other associations on advocacy.”
BVM: How is the membership structured and what are the benefits?
Church: “In total, there are 52 Thermoset Resin Formulators Association member companies; some will have five to ten active participants. We have supplier members, formulator members, distributor members, academics, and service professionals. The Association is funded with membership dues and our Annual Meeting is self-supporting. We have conference-call meetings of our market-focused committees and occasional webinars, but the face-to-face meeting is our annual meeting. We also conduct a tabletop showcase at the Annual Meeting, which is an important opportunity for our suppliers and distributors to show new products and connect with the formulators. Even if they don’t present a technical paper, they have an opportunity to promote their products and their company.
“The Association also has an academic panel that is building relationships with the colleges and universities. One of the important initiatives in that regard is Thermoset Resin Formulators Association’s Excellence in Thermoset Polymer Research Award Competition. It encourages and recognizes advances in the science, engineering, and technology of the thermoset polymer industry. The Competition is open to all BS, MS, and PhD students at an accredited college or university in the U.S. and Canada and is intended to provide student researchers with visibility and exposure to potential future employers. The Grand Prize winner receives a financial reward and is invited to present the winning paper at our Annual Meeting.”
Mongeluzi: “The best way to meet the needs of the industry is to have as many members as possible attending our Annual Meeting and networking with each other. At the conference, we have a presentation by Lynn Bergeson – a noted professional dealing with industry regulatory issues – and we address how the global regulations are impacting member companies at a local level. We also provide a quarterly newsletter and make information on industry-related global issues available through the course of the year. Those are new things we’re doing that bring value to our members. But the sustained value comes from the technical papers and the educational information that’s shared at the Annual Meeting, and the library of all the technical papers that have been available since TRFA began.”
BVM: How will Thermoset Resin Formulators Association continue to be a viable voice in the future?
Atkinson: “For the future, we want to continue doing what we do now, only better, for instance, making our technical papers more easily accessible and searchable using new technology. It’s on our fiscal 2019 list. We took a survey of our members and went through a Strategic Planning session in May to ensure that our goals are in line with our member companies’ needs. As a result, we’re improving ourselves based on member input. We’re working on enhancing market updates, and we’ve also had input on our dues structure and we’re rolling out a revised plan in 2019 that we think is more equitable.”
Church: “Most importantly, we will continue to be an active industry trade association providing a forum for formulators, suppliers, and distributors of thermoset resin products in a broad spectrum of markets and offering needed and necessary information that’s pertinent to the success of their business.”
Mongeluzi: “Thermoset Resin Formulators Association has something to offer everyone. We make sure there’s a good balance in the applications (the papers, the table tops, the suppliers), so that anyone related to the thermoset industry will take away new knowledge and new content. From an application standpoint, we tap into many industries and chemistries because there are common needs across the industries, yet we still provide the focus on thermosets. TRFA is a valuable and inclusive organization.”
** The 2019 Thermoset Resin Formulators Association Annual Meeting will be held from April 7-9 at the Charleston Marriott in Charleston, South Carolina. The Additive Manufacturing Deep Dive immediately follows, April 9 – 11 also at the Charleston Marriott in Charleston, South Carolina.
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AT A GLANCE
Who: Thermoset Resin Formulators Association (TRFA)
What: Trade organization for the Thermoset Formulators Industry
Where: Based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois