President, Chemours Titanium Technologies
From expanding production capabilities in Mexico to creating new paint formulations for customers in China, creating a more colorful world is at the top of Bryan's agenda every day. He's focused on making Ti-Pure™ an indispensable ingredient for customers across coatings, plastics, laminates, and paper.
Q. What was an early work experience that influenced your career?
A. One of the most eye-opening assignments I had was as a research supervisor for the Ecology Group at Savannah River Laboratory. There I was, with my BS in chemical engineering, managing a group where all the other members had PhDs in aquatic ecology, botany, or forestry.
I had absolutely no clue what they did or how they did it. But it really proved to be one of the best experiences in my career. Because I could not do what they did, we had to work together to figure out what was the value we added to one another. That management insight about collaboration is one I've drawn on many times. I'd say that job taught me more about leading a group of people than perhaps any other assignment.
Q. The Titanium Technology business has a history that dates back over 80 years. What are some highlights?
A. Well, we are the world's largest producer of titanium dioxide. So obviously, we’re bringing with us a very strong product line and brand, in Ti-Pure™. That's backed by a history of process technology capability, know-how and continuous improvement in the manufacturing progress that's unparalleled. Going back to 1948, we invested in developing a new way of making TiO2 itself. The chloride process we invented is now used at all of our plants. Over the years, we've evolved it to enable higher throughput and accommodate a wider range of feedstock.
In paints, we developed pigments that give paint manufacturers the capability to tint in-store with absolute consistency from can to can. That’s a fundamental part of going from offering just a few colors to offering thousands, a level of choice that consumers have come to expect.
Historically, we've also enabled the downgauging of plastics by managing particle size and structure. Basically, TiO2 particles can cause plastics to shred at thinner weights. By engineering pigments that reduce that effect, we enable manufacturers to make things like food packaging thinner. That has significant business and carbon footprint advantages, because it reduces material and shipping costs as well as shipping weight and the amount of material used.
Q. What are you excited about now in the business?
A. We've recently launched the Ti-Pure™ One Coat™ System, which distributes TiO2 particles more evenly. This lets manufacturers make paints with more hiding power. In trial studies, professional painters in Germany, China, and Mexico have all said they preferred paints made with this system. This is an example of engineering and process knowledge powering higher value products for both our own company and our customers.
Q. Being customer centered is a core value for Chemours. How does that manifest in the Titanium Technologies business?
A. I think there are a few things that we’ve got to convey to our customers. The first is that they’re dealing with the same quality organization in the new company that they were accustomed to in the old one. Our customers need that confidence. The second is to build from there and to say that we’re listening better than we used to, we’re responding faster than we used to, we’re innovating together better than we used to.
This is really critical, because we actually look to our customers to drive innovation. We want to develop a partnership where we’re responding to the needs they have. Now that could be as technical as formulations that let them use less energy in making paint. Or it could be more transformation by bringing insight from markets to drive new and better products.
For example, we've developed Ti-Pure™ grades for use in laminate flooring that are resistant to sun bleaching. That's an example where we took a challenge that contractors have – floors that develop lighter patches where they get more sun exposure – and engineered a product to let flooring makers solve it.
Q. How does a growing global middle class affect your business?
A. I think consumer expectations are evening out rapidly. Once they hit a certain income level, people in China, in Brazil, or in the US want the same thing – higher quality.
That works in our favor, because our business is quality and it is scalable. The basic technologies employed in making coatings, plastics, laminates, or paper are similar all over the world. We bring a world-class brand in Ti-Pure™, which is known and valued for quality. And we are committed to remaining the largest global TiO2 producer, with significant new capacity coming online at our Altamira, Mexico facility.
Q. How would you describe your leadership style?
A. I've always felt like my most important thing that I can do is shape the way people think. That’s the highest leverage activity that I can invest in. If I can give them a starting point, they can carry it to places that I never thought of.
Q. What would you tell someone who was thinking about joining Chemours?
A. I’m very optimistic about what Chemours can do as a standalone company. We are a much smaller and more focused organization, and there’s a level of accountability and accomplishment that comes with that. We have great fundamentals, but we are looking for a bit more edge, a bit more entrepreneurship. So to work at Chemours you can’t be afraid of being given responsibility, independence, and accountability for delivering results that take the business to the next level.
I’d also say that when it comes specifically to operating manufacturing sites and managing product lines, those are things we are leaders in now. The challenge is to expand from that, and to look at the world differently so that we are discovering new opportunities and applications. So, to someone considering Chemours who is interested in the technical marketing realm, I'd say your job is to create market opportunities that bring value and make us interesting and relevant.
A great example of finding new more interesting applications for our products is in coatings. We know that UV radiation causes milk to spoil more quickly. So we've created a coating for milk cartons that uses TiO2 to block UV rays. Rather than just supplying TiO2, we are part of enabling a solution further down the value chain.
I'd also tell people that Chemours is a place you can grow and develop. We also aspire to be a brand you will want to put on your resume, because it will open doors wherever your career takes you.
"In my younger years, I had a passion for exploring caves. In fact, I was involved in the early exploration of one of the largest cave systems in North America, the Friars Hole cave complex in West Virginia."
Historical Figure I'd Like to Meet
"Abraham Lincoln had a quality of thought combined with resolve in action that is really fascinating to me."
Bryan joined DuPont in 1978 at the Savannah River, South Carolina plant as a process engineer and held various assignments at that location until 1987. Between 1987 and 1992, he served in various business and manufacturing roles in the Petrochemicals Department and in Corporate Plans.
Bryan joined the DuPont Titanium Technologies business in 1992 as production unit manager at the Edgemoor plant near Wilmington, Delaware. Since that time he has held a range of leadership roles in Titanium Technologies. In 1997 he assumed the role of venture manager in the new ventures group, and two years later he moved into a global sales and marketing assignment. In 2002 he was named plant manager of the Kuan Yin TiO2 plant in Taiwan, and in 2004 he was appointed managing director for Titanium Technologies in the Asia Pacific region.
He repatriated to the United States in 2006 when he was named North American operations director, Coatings and Color Technologies. In 2008 he became global business director, Titanium Technologies. In 2010 he became global planning director, Titanium Technologies. In 2013 he relocated to Singapore where he continued to lead the Titanium Technologies planning function. Bryan joined Chemours as senior vice president, productivity and strategy in 2014. He was named to his current position in May 2015.
Bryan is a native of Wilmington, Delaware, and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware.