Friday, October 3, 2014

Positive Vibe at the 2014 Synthetic Turf Council Member Meeting

I had the pleasure of attending this week’s Synthetic Turf Council Annual Member’s meeting in San Antonio. The mood of the meeting was definitely upbeat. With 272 delegates in attendance, this was the largest STC member meeting yet. There has been a tremendous influx of new members lately, and that was evident in the attendees and at the new member’s reception. The STC regularly tweets news of new members joining the council, and it’s interesting to follow them on Twitter at @SynTurfCouncil.

This year’s keynote speech was from economist Brian Beaulieu of ITR Economics. Beaulieu was upbeat about the future for those in the turf industry and the economy in general, as he predicted four years of solid economic growth through 2018. He did sound a note of caution about the skilled workforce, however, mentioning that finding enough skilled labor now and in the future could be a big problem. He also highlighted Mexico as a fertile ground for growth for companies involved in the industry.
Professor John Sorochan and Research Leader Adam Thoms of the University of Tennessee led an interesting discussion on turf safety. UT has more than five acres of turf for conducting studies with the aim of enhancing safety for athletes and others that play on synthetic turf. Much of their time is devoted to studying hardness and traction and the interaction between the two. One of the biggest issues continues to be heat buildup on turf fields and Americhem’s research scientists are continually working to combat this issue as it relates to pigments and additives in turf yarn.
David Dyas of BASF talked about polymer stabilization and explained how UV stabilizers are subject to interaction with other elements of turf fields. For example, crumb rubber and the thickness of the turf film can all help determine how long a field’s color will last before fading. Some companies are even experimenting with longer tufts on synthetic fields with the intention of eventually cutting them to reveal the “protected” layer of tufts below, which have retained their color.
All in all, this was a great meeting to participate in. Our customers in the industry are upbeat and business is good for them right now. One of our key customers is so busy that they are using contract manufacturing, in addition to their own lines, to meet demand for their products. San Antonio was a great venue for this meeting, as most of the participants stayed at the host hotel (the Hilton Palacio Del Rio) and the Riverwalk establishments close to it for dinner meetings and other interaction. We’re hoping that the good times continue for the industry and that, through hard work and partnering with one another, the next STC member meeting will be even bigger and more successful.
Marty Staten
Account Manager, Americhem, Inc.

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