The BASF site in Southfield, MI, hosted a grand opening/ribbon-cutting ceremony in late September for its new Plastics and Coatings Excellence (PACE) technical laboratory. The newly refurbished, 32,000-square-foot building represents an investment of approximately $20 million dollars and can accommodate up to 50 people engaged in research, development and technical service, to serve customers and encourage collaboration.

The laboratory will support the formulation needs for pigments, resins, performance and formulation additives that are used in transportation, industrial, furniture and floor coatings, and plastics applications. It centralizes laboratory operations for the Dispersions & Pigments Division’s Transportation, Industrial Coatings and Plastics (TICP) businesses, which had been operating from three different locations in the United States prior to the lab opening. At the opening ceremony, Greg Pflum, Vice President and General Manager of the BASF Midwest Hub, stated that the laboratory “brings together people, buildings and great solutions for BASF customers.”

Job growth in Michigan is extremely important and a welcome step in the right direction for an economy that took a devastating hit during the 2008-2009 recession. Many of the invited guest speakers at the event touched on this subject. The Honorable Brenda Lawrence of the U.S. House of Representatives applauded BASF for choosing Michigan as the place to centralize its TICP operations. “The investment does not go unnoticed,” she stated. Greg Pflum said, “The laboratory is a significant investment in BASF’s operations in Michigan, allowing continued job growth and supporting customer satisfaction at the Southfield campus.”

But it is the investment in its customers that BASF is most committed to. “Focusing on our customers’ needs is the priority for the team working in this new laboratory,” stated Michael McHenry, Vice President, TICP and Printing, Packaging & Adhesives for BASF in North America. “Our employees now have the ease of collaboration with colleagues and working together in a common location to solve our customers’ problems and help them be more successful.”

The PACE project was developed under the guidance of three groups at BASF: 1) the PACE core planning team; 2) the engineering team; and 3) the steering team, comprised of company executives that allotted the financial resources for the project. The PACE building was previously a BASF automotive coating line. When the technology became outdated, the building was shut down for several years. It has been completely gutted and renovated for the purposes of the PACE laboratory.

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, invited guests and employees toured the laboratory to learn more about the technical capabilities now available at BASF’s Southfield campus. Highlights of the tour included: the White/Clear Lab, where BASF’s product development, technical service and Formulation Service Institute marry the company’s portfolio of products and help customers formulate with them; the Color Lab, where technicians work with customers to properly disperse organic, inorganic and effect pigments, as well as develop new application ideas; the UV Lab, where visitors learned about the instant cure that UV offers, and how this technology is the future of many coatings; and finally the Plastics Processing Area, where BASF specialists add color into thermoplastics, spin fiber and create a variety of interesting colored plastic products for customers.

The event was topped off with a Michigan-themed lunch that consisted of Coney Chili Dogs with all the fixings, Better-Made Potato Chips and Faygo pop – all products of Michigan. Many thanks to BASF for a very enjoyable and educational experience!