While many people in the United States enjoyed the NCAA men’s basketball tournament a few months ago, I was facing my own March Madness. Throughout the month I visited with four different coatings suppliers during two separate trips to Germany – a whirlwind experience that taught me a lot of new technology, and offered me the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and make many new friends.

My first trip was to Munich to attend WACKER’s annual press conference, followed by an international press workshop and tour of their Burghausen site. We report on the press conference in our Company News department in this issue. The press workshop in Burghausen involved a tutorial on silicones by Dr. Christoph Kowitz, Vice President Performance Silicones, WACKER SILICONES, as well as presentations on medical silicones and their benefits in wound care, new sustainable antifoam agents for consumer applications, silicones for tomorrow’s cars, novel silicone hybrids for challenging sealant and adhesive applications, and silicone technology for long-term protection against graffiti. A lab tour followed, where we were able to see firsthand some of the technologies that were discussed in the workshop.

Bill Toth, Director Corporate Communications & Compliance, Wacker Chemical Corp., and Florian Degenhart, Nadine Baumgartl and Verena Roithmeier of Corporate Communications at Wacker Chemie AG, organized a wonderful three-day event for all 23 international journalists who attended.

For my second trip I arrived in Dusseldorf the Thursday before the European Coatings Show (ECS) and spent two days visiting with Alberdingk Boley, LANXESS and BYK-Chemie.

I enjoyed my time with Martina Bielen, Sales & Marketing/Corporate Communication, and Michael Heidrich, Technical/Commercial Sales, at Alber-dingk Boley GmbH in Krefeld. There I learned about the company’s latest environmentally friendly binders for protective and decorative paints, floor coatings, furniture finishing, and graphic arts and film coatings.

The LANXESS headquarters of its Inorganic Pigments (IPG) business unit is located just up the road at CHEMPARK in Krefeld-Uerdingen. There, Ludger von Borstel, IPG Technical Operations Team, gave a tour of the world’s largest production facility for iron oxide pigments, with a current capacity of 280,000 metric tons per year. Since 1926, LANXESS has produced more than 13 million tons of iron oxide pigments at this site.

LANXESS was gracious enough to offer me transportation from their facility to BYK-Chemie GmbH about an hour away in Wesel. Many thanks to Stephen Spiegelhauer, Manager, Global Product Management at LANXESS, for being my chauffer! At BYK, Marcel Krohnen, Global Head of End-Use Wood and Furniture Coatings, gave me an in-depth tour of the company’s R&D and application labs. I also met with Dr. Stefan Mößmer, Business Line Manager Paint Additives, to discuss current industry trends, technology projects and sustainability. My visit was capped off with a plant tour by Martin Muth, Product Management.

The weekend was spent in Berlin with a fantastic group of LANXESS employees and distributors before heading to Nuremberg for the ECS. Thank you to Jörg Hellwig, Head of LANXESS IPG, and Michaela Meyer, Global Distributor Management IPG, for organizing an amazing tour of Berlin!

I will report on all of the new technologies that these companies featured at the ECS in my show wrap-up article in our June issue. And be sure to visit www.pcimag.com to see pictures of my visits with these companies.