Chemical consolidation affecting your production? JSA has solutions

Chemical consolidation affecting your production? JSA has solutions

In today’s turbulent market, nothing is certain. This is especially true when it comes to large publicly traded and private equity held chemical suppliers. During the last few years, several medium to large chemical manufacturers have been purchased by larger organizations, resulting in the consolidation or discontinuance of numerous essential metal finishing and plating products. 

Supply chain issues and recent geopolitical developments have driven large inflexible chemical suppliers to eliminate products rather than research new raw material sources and components.  

“We’ve heard many cases where a product is no longer available and the customer is forced to use a less effective or more expensive alternative,” explains JSA business development manager Mike Lindemann.

If the new formulation is significantly different than the existing product, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) customers may require the metal treatment or finishing process to be requalified – a time-consuming and expensive process for both the supplier and the manufacturer.

The auto industry utilizes a certification process called PPAP, which stands for Production Part Approval Process. It outlines a rigorous set of testing and validation steps that are used to demonstrate that a manufacturing or finishing process meets the engineering design and product specifications of a part. Before a part can enter production, it must first achieve PPAP certification. When an input such as a metal finishing product changes, it may trigger the need for an updated PPAP.

“Certification requires a substantial investment of time and manpower. It’s not easy to re-certify parts, so OEMs and suppliers prefer to avoid it whenever they can. But with some of the changes going on with chemical suppliers and their product consolidations, they may not have a choice,” Lindemann adds.

Smaller shops feel the pain

Product consolidations and shortages are especially challenging for smaller metal finishing shops that have less buying power and may only need small quantities of certain critical chemistries.

Large chemical suppliers that are primarily focused on shareholders and profitability can’t afford to produce short runs of certain chemicals, so they either charge a premium for those products, make the customer buy a larger quantity than they require, or abandon those products altogether. “The little guys don’t have the clout to push back when these events happen,” points out business development associate Ben Zweiban. “They’re at the mercy of these changes,” he adds.

How JSA meets customer needs

Learning from past experiences to better serve its customers, JSA moved from representing a single large chemical company to partnering with multiple chemical manufacturers that provide the highest quality, best performing products. This has positioned JSA to thrive in today’s uncertain environment by providing a more diverse range of products to meet expanding customer requirements. 

The key to success is JSA’s customer-focused approach to doing business.  From the outside sales team covering 10 states in the Midwest, to the inside sales/technical support and customer service team, to their diverse chemical and equipment suppliers, everyone cares about helping the customer and providing the best possible service.  This includes finding direct replacements for customers that have been forced to change chemistries as a result of supplier consolidations. 

“Our partners have access to many unique formulations and are willing to blend them in smaller quantities. They’re more R&D-focused and they have unique technology that we didn’t have access to before.” Lindemann emphasized. “Their approach is much more aligned with the way we do business.”

“Our current suppliers are super-responsive. That, in turn, helps us do a better job of meeting the needs of our customers,” he adds. “Like us, they take a longer-term view of customer relationships. Everyone is willing to go the extra mile to help the customer and provide the best products to maximize their productivity.”

Zweiban shares an example of how one of JSA’s suppliers handled a raw material shortage: 

“One of our high-protection topcoats for zinc plating contains a raw material that typically comes from Ukraine, and because of the war the production facility is shut down. So instead of our supplier saying, ‘Hey, this product is discontinued,’ they took a proactive problem-solving approach. They informed us that they were having trouble procuring the raw material, but they have found an alternative that they have tested and confirmed will get the job done. It was 20 percent more expensive, but they could match our current price until they can get the raw ingredient again and switch back. This kept us from affecting production and raising the price to our customer in the short term.”

Metalline: A unique advantage for JSA customers

JSA’s sister company, Metalline Chemical Corporation, manufactures a variety of specialty chemicals for metal cleaning and finishing. Having its own manufacturing capabilities provides JSA with greater access to certain raw materials and increases its flexibility for providing critical low-volume products to its customers. 

“Metalline enables us to provide chemistries that our customers may not be able to get anywhere else. And we can do so in the quantities that work best for them,” Zweiban points out.

No other chemical distributor in North America has this level of chemical diversity and supply capability.

With a diverse network of mid-sized, flexible chemical suppliers and an internal manufacturing division (Metalline Chemical Corp.), JSA has an unmatched portfolio of options it can offer to customers who find themselves the victims of discontinued or allocated products.

“If you need alternatives to your current formulations, we would love to talk with you. We have the flexibility and resources to help you find practical, affordable solutions to your sourcing challenges,” Lindemann concludes.