Huntsman Corporation – a history of rapid international growth
An opportunity to learn about this chemicals manufacturer’s key role in the global footwear industry.
With headquarters just north of Houston, Texas, Huntsman Corporation is an international chemicals producer founded in 1970 by American businessman and philanthropist Jon Huntsman. The diversity and size of the company steadily grew through a series of acquisitions, and it went public on the New York Stock Exchange in February 2005.
Along the way, Huntsman Corporation obtained a polypropylene plant in New Jersey from the Shell Chemical Company in 1987, established the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City six years later, took control of Texaco Chemical Company’s worldwide operations in 1994 (more than doubling Huntsman’s operating earnings), and nearly doubled in size in 1999, thanks to the acquisition of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) polyurethanes, titanium dioxide, aromatics and petrochemical global businesses.
Revenue for 2019 was reported as approximately $7 billion (£5.4 billion), and today the corporation operates more than 70 manufacturing, research and development, and operations facilities in some 30 countries and employs around 9,000 members of staff.
In order to embed its services within the manufacturing ‘hotspots’ around the world, Huntsman Corporation has established large-scale production plants and a global network of more than 30 downstream formulation facilities from which tailored solutions are produced. It also operates regional technical service centres and innovation centres in North America, Europe, Asia and India. These include factories in various countries producing and formulating isocyanates, polyols and prepolymers, footwear technical centres in China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Thailand, the USA and Vietnam, and footwear innovation centres located in Belgium, China, India and the USA.
The organisation is comprised of four divisions – ‘advanced materials’, ‘performance products’, ‘textile effects’ and ‘polyurethanes’. Each of these business areas boasts in-depth expertise in specific chemistries and technologies within the markets they serve.
The advanced materials division designs and produces speciality acrylic, epoxy and polyurethane-based polymer resin systems and adhesive products. These are often used in aircraft, automobiles and electrical power transmission, as well as in coatings, construction materials, circuit boards and sports equipment.
From the performance products business area come substances such as amines, maleic anhydride and carbonates for diverse consumer and industrial end markets, including energy, automotive and transportation, coatings and adhesives, building and construction, electronics and industrial manufacturing.
The textile effects division is a major global provider of chemicals, digital inks and dyes for the textile industry. Its innovative solutions include durable water repellents, substances offering colour fastness and sun protection, as well as dyes designed to reduce energy and water consumption.
Huntsman Corporation’s polyurethanes division – the business area that has the greatest impact on the global footwear industry and which creates 50 per cent of the corporation’s revenue – is a global producer of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI)-based polyurethanes. It reportedly focuses on formulating innovative, products for key downstream markets, including elastomers for footwear, energy-saving insulation, performance materials for automotive applications, comfort foam for bedding and furniture, protective coatings and adhesives.
Polyurethane products from the Huntsman Corporation are available in both fully-formulated grades and tailor-made systems, being based on polyester, polyether and hybrid formulations, as well as thermoplastic variations. Footwear-related components manufactured from Huntsman Corporation products include upper films, adhesives, outsoles, midsoles, insoles, synthetic materials and sports shoe plates.
In 2018, Huntsman Corporation opened a multi-purpose facility at the Amata Vietnam Industrial Park near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The site comprises manufacturing, research and development capabilities, a technical service centre, warehouse and distribution space, and a commercial office.
Vietnam is one of the largest and fastest growing countries in Asia Pacific. At this site, Huntsman Corporation manufactures formulated systems for the footwear market – primarily for use in Vietnam and Cambodia.
The Vietnam facility includes a SATRA-accredited physical and chemical testing laboratory for footwear-related evaluation which, as the company states, is a great example of commitment to the footwear industry and to its customers.
The photograph at the top of this page shows the company’s multi-purpose facility in Vietnam, which was opened in 2018.
This article was originally published on page 32 of the November 2020 issue of SATRA Bulletin.