Sea-Land Sails to Europe

January 5, 2011

Sea-Land Chemical’s newly formed subsidiary, Sea-Land Chemical Europe, will supply specialty chemicals to the European lubricants, cleaning and coatings markets.

“Our initial intent is to work with partners over there,” Joseph Clayton, president of Westlake, Ohio based
Sea-Land Chemical, told Lube Report. “For us, we see this as a step to both support our customers and our suppliers, and to also meet the need for identifying new sources as we go forward.”

Clayton explained that while the United Kingdom-based European subsidiary won’t initially involve any facilities overseas, the plan is to eventually follow the company’s North American model of using contract warehouses. Sea-Land has eight warehouses across the United States and Canada. “We expect to be a very similar model in the next three to five years in Europe, where we would have multiple stocking locations,” he said.

The timing was right for the expansion announced Monday, Clayton added. “We see Europe, as the U.S. is, coming out of a slowdown in business,” he pointed out. “There has also been a consolidation of suppliers over the last couple of years.”

He pointed out Sea-Land brings one stop shopping, offering a variety of different products to its customers. “A number of suppliers are global now, and a number of our customers – especially in the lubricants industry, where there is consolidation – have become global,” Clayton said. “For us to compete, we have to be able to supply multiple locations.”

Sea-Land’s technical resources should prove helpful in the European market. “Between REACH and new regulations, there is a constant need to be looking at the formulations, both in Europe and the U.S., but especially in Europe right now,” he said. “The fact that we have some in-house technical resources, and products to offer as well, to help these customers reformulate, that’s where our strength is going to be to help.”

Sea-Land Chemical Europe entered into an agreement with Robert Stubbs, who was formerly with metalworking fluid additives supplier Polartech, acquired last year by Afton Chemical. Stubbs will promote products currently available to the market, conduct market studies for prospective suppliers and offer sourcing opportunities from Europe and Asia.

“One of Sea-Land’s strengths here in the U.S. that we want to carry over to Europe is assisting our customers in finding the specialty chemicals they need as they are formulating new and improved products,” Clayton explained. “We needed somebody with a good technical background, and that’s what Rob Stubbs brings to the table. His background is in formulating.”

“Chemical distribution has polarized in Europe into large supply-chain-oriented groups and much smaller distributors, many of whom lack true sector expertise,” said Stubbs. “Sea-Land is one of a decreasing number of specialized distributors which combines the scale and logistical expertise with real levels of technical expertise. These are attributes readily translatable to Europe.”

BY GEORGE GILL