"As a result of the reforms passed in 2013, momentum is finally starting to build in the oil and gas sector so this is certainly an area of focus for Pilot. Also, as the middle class and consumer spending increases in Mexico, our focus and participation in all the key segments will also grow."
Pilot Chemical Company was founded in 1950s. Could you provide an introduction to the company and its presence in Latin America?
Pilot is a privately owned, independent global specialty company that was founded in Santa Fe Springs, California by John Morrisroe in 1952. The company expanded over time with facilities in Ohio, New Jersey, and Texas and, in 2005, the company relocated its corporate headquarters to Cincinnati, OH. In 2012, Pilot acquired Mason Chemical to enter into the biocidal quat industry and in 2016 it acquired Texas-based Liquid Minerals Group in order to enter the organometallic fuel additives market. Finally, in 2017 Pilot acquired ATRP Solutions which is now known as Pilot Polymer Technologies, based in Pittsburgh, PA.
We currently do not have any assets in Latin America as all of our manufacturing facilities are located in the United States but we export into Latin America, Asia and Europe from these locations. Mexico, in particular, is a very important market for Pilot given its proximity to the United States and the level of the trade between the two countries. It is an important country for our future growth.
Could you explain the capabilities and applications of Pilot’s technologies in alkylation, sulfonation, and sulfation?
Pilot has been operating for over 65 years and has a broad portfolio. It is the world’s largest producer of disulfonates, which have applications ranging from emulsion polymerization, oil & gas, enhanced oil recovery, and HI&I. Our capabilities surrounding our multiple sulfonation technologies allow us to handle feedstocks from C4 to C20 plus. Also, our unique alkylation and distillation allows us to isolate specific cuts for alkylation or conversely to alkylate or co-alkylate multiple streams to achieve a desired outcome. With continuous batch and continuous sulfonation reactions, the advantage to the customer is our ability to handle a broad range of feedstock and to customize our products to their needs.
One area of focus is emulsion polymerization. Pilot offers an extensive variety of diphenyl oxides, sulfonates and sulphonic acids that are used in paints and coatings, rubber and latex and other polymer manufacturing applications. Additionally, with our proprietary ice-cold sulfonation process we manufacture the leading sulfonates for metalworking, corrosion inhibitor, emulsifier, and lubricant applications.
What is Pilot’s innovation strategy?
Pilots’ acquisition of ATRP Solutions expands its proprietary technologies in oilfield chemicals, lubricants additives and the paints and coatings market. This is an important step to ensure continued product innovation. Additionally, in 2018 we announced we are investing US$5 million this year, as well as tens of millions of dollars in the next five years, in technology and innovation. This will support our state of the art innovation center located in Pennsylvania and our Pilot Polymer laboratory. We are continuously looking to meet our clients’ needs today and into the future.
What sectors in Mexico offer most opportunities for growth?
As a result of the reforms passed in 2013, momentum is finally starting to build in the oil and gas sector so this is certainly an area of focus for Pilot. Also, as the middle class and consumer spending increases in Mexico, our focus and participation in all the key segments will also grow.
As an American company, are you concerned about the ability of Pilot to export to Mexico as a result of the NAFTA negotiations?
While there are modifications needed to the trade agreement, the stakes are simply too high to abolish the trade agreement entirely. Ultimately, the governments will ratify a more updated agreement and trade between the three countries will continue, in my opinion.
What is Pilot’s business vision for Mexico and Latin America?
With our acquisitions in recent years and investments in innovation and technology we are going to continue to focus on products and processes that allow us to do novel things with existing feedstocks for our customers and suppliers. Pilot was founded on a novel idea to sulfonate an existing chemistry to make a superior product and we will continue in this spirit of innovation.