A partnership for sustainable composites

CW talks to Entropy Resins and Gougeon Brothers about their future as one company.

To me, this announcement makes so much sense and heralds, I believe, a bright future for composites. In the communications Gougeon and Entropy sent to their customers and associates, they painted an image of growth, literally. From seeds as startup businesses, to building the WEST SYSTEM, PRO-SET and ENTROPY brands, to grafting these together with organic partnerships in recycling via companies like CONNORA TECHNOLOGIES and others, the overall image is a deep root system and foundation that supports an expanding portfolio of high-performance, tailorable composites technologies and a future that will help foster growth and new life in our industry.

Below are the insights from my discussions with Entropy co-founder and CEO Desi Banatao and Alan Gurski, President & CEO of Gougeon Brothers, Inc. But first, a brief background on each company that shows the “same culture” they refer to below.

 

History of industry pioneers and customer support

My relationship with Gougeon Brothers, Inc. (Bay City, MI, US) goes back to my days at DuPont, when I was handed the marine structures market for KEVLAR and NOMEX on top of my duties in aircraft repair. Joe Parker, Product Manager for Gougeon, now retired, was an industry icon and important resource as I tried to learn about marine composites. I actually met Meade Gougeon through my husband, Jim, who worked for Gougeon Brothers in the 1970s. His stories span not just Meade, Jan and the early crew’s antics, but challenges in developing vacuum bagging technology and working with carbon fiber. A picture emerges of maverick technology pioneers, trying to help others advance their ambitions to build better, faster and lighter, be it boats, wind blades or aircraft.

Gougeon Brothers, Inc. Jan, Meade, Joel Gougeon
Gougeon Brothers, Inc. WEST SYSTEM resources books DVDs The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction
Gougeon Brothers, Inc. WEST SYSTEM EpoxyWorks magazine
Gougeon Brothers, Inc. 2012

WEST SYSTEM and PRO-SET epoxies were founded by a family (brothers Jan, Meade and Joe Gougeon top left) who believed in providing the best products and support for their customers. EpoxyWorks magazine, published since 1977 is just one example. The company now welcomes Entropy resins and it customers into its family.
SOURCE: Gougeon Brothers, Inc.

 

I became familiar with Entropy Resins through its more recent offshoot, Connora Technologies, and its Recyclamine hardener which enables epoxy resins to be recycled as thermoplastics. Brothers Rey and Desi Banatao , as founders of these companies, are also quite familiar with the challenges of being mavericks and pioneers. Many companies talk about the change needed to protect our planet and make composites manufacturing more environmentally responsible and sustainable, but few are willing to step beyond the status quo to make this happen.

 World's First Recyclable Surfboard powered by Connora Technologies ReRez and Entropy Resins  
Entropy Resins biorefinery resin technology Super Sap epoxy
Entropy Resins customer support Grain Surfboard hot coating video tutorial

Entropy Resins is a leader in biobased epoxy formulations for adhesive, coating and composites applications, as well as zero landfill manufacturing. Like Gougeon Brothers, it is committed to supporting and educating its customers, such as the video tutorial shown above. SOURCE: Entropy Resins.

 

To me, this announcement makes so much sense and heralds, I believe, a bright future for composites. In the communications Gougeon and Entropy sent to their customers and associates, they painted an image of growth, literally. From seeds as startup businesses, to building the WEST SYSTEM, PRO-SET and ENTROPY brands, to grafting these together with organic partnerships in recycling via companies like CONNORA TECHNOLOGIES and others, the overall image is a deep root system and foundation that supports an expanding portfolio of high-performance, tailorable composites technologies and a future that will help foster growth and new life in our industry.

Below are the insights from my discussions with Entropy co-founder and CEO Desi Banatao and Alan Gurski, President & CEO of Gougeon Brothers, Inc.

 

What makes this a great partnership

“WEST SYSTEM was created by three brothers,” says Banatao, “very specifically to advance what they loved, which was boating and the builders of the craft. And then they created all of this support around it, the EpoxyWorks magazine and books on how to build a boat, all of the product testing and tailored formulation. When you build a boat with a WEST SYSTEM product, you know they did this for you. And this ecosystem they have constructed has gotten stronger, growing into the OEM market with PRO-SET.”

“When I look at Entropy Resins, I see a similar arc,” Banatao continues, “a company started by brothers with the aim of improving the passions we grew up with, including skateboarding and surfing. We’ve always tried to give our customers a product that works for them and in their process. But also, as much as possible, our goal has been to help them tell their story of their product and art and company. And we helped them with a new story about how they are improving the environmental impact of that product.”

“We have watched Entropy Resins for years,” says Gurski, “realizing early on that sustainable chemistry was going to play an increasingly important role in the future. In my opinion, they were doing it the right way, doing the hard work to obtain empirical data and understand the supply chain. There were many companies that weren’t — just “green washing” products that really offered no significant impact. We had done our own research and were advancing in our own development. Then the recession hit, and we had to put that aside for a bit, as we stewarded our core business. The Banataos and SuperSap came out of the recession stronger, while many of the “green washers” disappeared. Every year Desi and I would meet at the trade shows and talk about possible ways to partner.”

“And then last year, Meade Gougeon passed away, and as Desi was reading the various pieces honoring Meade’s legacy, it hit him that our two companies were culturally the same,” says Gurski.

“The more we talked, the more I could see we were speaking the same language,” adds Banatao, “of ecosystem and customers, product development and real advances for the future.”

“We have the same quality focus, the same curiosity for improvement and new technology, and a commitment to customer service,” says Gurski. “Entropy Resins is a perfect complement to our WEST SYSTEM and PRO-SET brands, enabling us to grow in new ways. There are large manufacturers who have sustainability departments larger than our company, and they are interested.”

“Gougeon Brothers has so much to offer us in terms of manufacturing capability and a robust infrastructure,” says Banatao.

“It’s no easy feat to achieve the lofty goals of dramatically improving the sustainability and recyclability of composites,” says Gurski. “Together, we offer a uniquely capable entity. Plus, we also just work well together.”

“We both agree this is just the beginning,” says Banatao.

Niche Snowboards is a company that goes against the grain. Based out of Salt Lake City, they are from the ground up, 100% committed to doing everything they can to be as eco-friendly as possible. They’re passionate about creating exceptional snowboards from bio-derived materials – and continually seek out new materials and technologies with still smaller environmental impacts. That search brought them to Entropy Resins and a proprietary Super Sap blend that powers their line of eco-friendly snowboards.
https://entropyresins.com/our-partners/