I can’t tell you how great it was to attend the Southern Society for Coatings Technology’s 83rd Annual Technical Conference in Savannah, Georgia, in early May. This event is always one of my favorites to attend because of its unique format and locations, however this year had an even more exciting feel to it. This was the first in-person coatings industry event since early 2020 – and it didn’t go unnoticed. Keith Limardo, SSCT Past President, stated, “While the SSCT Annual Meeting is always a great time, this year had an air of joy that I have not experienced in my many years of attending. Everyone was so excited to see each other again, even competitors were 'virtually' hugging!”

The SSCT reports that 148 people attended the conference, which featured 31 technical presentations (24 of them in person) and 25 tabletop exhibitors. The event’s traditional welcome reception, golf outing, nightly hospitality suites and banquet all took place with excellent participation. The Silent Auction held during the final night's banquet raised $1,740 for the Scholarship Fund. And five golf awards totaling $250 were donated to the fund.

A total of $8,000 was awarded for 2020 Scholarships even though the conference was not held last year. Scholarship recipients were Candler Boland, Alex Corbett, Carlie Moore and Delaney Staack.

I spoke briefly with Ben York, SSCT 2020-2021 President, and he said, “I think this event is a step in the right direction, and it proves that live events can be successful and safe. This year’s technical sessions offer talks that are both informative and technology focused, which is what the SSCT is all about. Our organization prides itself on educating individuals within our industry on new innovations in material science while supporting academia through our scholarship

programs. I have had nothing but positive feedback from attendees, and everyone seems to be having a terrific time. Hopefully, our meeting will pave the way for success with other technical conferences scheduled later this year.”

The event's Keynote Address was given by Ben Scharff, Managing Director of Grace Matthews, Inc. He spoke on “Unmasking the Market…Coatings M&A Beyond the Pandemic.” He noted that COVID-19 has driven some different fundamentals in terms of how companies operate, however the more things change, the more they seemingly stay the same. The large global players continue to press their advantages of scale by expanding operations, capabilities and market share, requiring small to mid-size companies to be faster to innovate and provide higher levels of customer service to compete successfully. The lingering pandemic, 2020 election and resulting regulatory, economic and geopolitical changes have created a coatings landscape in flux, however the M&A landscape is still driven by the same motivations.

I also attended some excellent technical sessions and look forward to publishing a handful of articles based on these talks later this year. Many thanks to the SSCT for organizing a fun, safe and informative event. It’s always great to re-connect with industry colleagues at coatings conferences, but doing so after 14 months of pandemic isolation was fantastic.

Make plans to attend next year's SSCT Annual Technical Conference, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville, Florida, June 5-8, 2022.

I am happy to announce that this issue of our magazine features more details and the full agenda for our annual event, Coatings Trends & Technologies (CTT). We are looking forward to seeing everyone in Lombard, Illinois, this September 8-9 for our in-person event. The conference will feature a Keynote Address by Daniel Murad, ChemQuest CEO, titled “Fundamentals to Ensure Sustainable Growth: Strategic Insights for Mid-Decade Business. Are You Ready for 2025?” CTT will also include three concurrent tracks, featuring 42 technical presentations on the latest technology available to coatings formulators. And we continue our tradition of having a Panel Discussion on the second day of the event – this year taking a deeper dive into the digital transformation of the coatings industry. Click here to go directly to the CTT brochure in this issue.

PCI looks forward to an incredibly busy in-person coatings conference season this year. Please look for us at the CoatingsTech Conference, Sink or Swim, Coatings Trends & Technologies, the European Coatings Show, the Pigment and Color Science Forum/TiO2 World Summit, the Powder Coating Summit, the Western Coating Show and the Eastern Coatings Show.